Dropping Him Off at School...

"I'm excited, Mommy!" Words that I love to hear as we battle the traffic to the other end of town, counting the dump trucks as we go, making our way to Sam's new school. Also slightly bittersweet, his desire to be somewhere where I am not, these small steps of independence marching him towards a more grown up life. My little boy who, as cliche as it sounds, was only a baby yesterday. This smart, small person who has great ideas, remembers all sorts of things and shows kindness and empathy to others. I pick him up from school and try to dig the answers to my prying questions out of him-what did you do today, did you eat your lunch, how long was your nap, did you play with any other kids...I want to back off, give him space, let his experiences spill out of him as he relaxes back into being with his mom and sister. But I also want to know that he was happy, felt safe, had fun, laughed, was nourished and loved for who he is...big wants, full hopes. Honestly, there is a part of me that is also excited to drop Sam off at school. To have time to just be with Phoebe or to be by myself, to flex the weak muscles of the other aspects of my being and pretend, fleetingly, that it is just myself whom I am responsible for. With that, I end up missing Sam desperately, entering the familiar dance that is such a big part of parenthood: wanting to be close to my children and wanting to run away from them.

It feels good to return here to this blog, to get something down about this journey, to continue to try to make sense of parenting while surrendering to the realization that it will never be completely figure-outable.

Transitions

The ups and downs of ones life take shape on a daily, monthly and yearly basis like the rise and fall of a chest with breath. The up is really no better than the down except that it might feel more enjoyable in the moment. Really all the mountains and all the valleys are equally significant to a full, ever expanding and miraculous life. Like most, change is difficult to me. I used to be the little girl that would cry at night in her bed because I didn't want to grow up, I didn't want childhood to not be mine anymore. I still cry about growing up. And can so easily romanticize the past to death, especially as I notice my body changing, my capacity to stay up late dwindle, and motherhood alter my independence. Change is so necessary though (and inevitable), movement that adds challenge, exploration, discovery and beauty to our lives. How dull it would be to have everything stagnant. To have a body that never changed. To eat the same foods day in and day out. To live in the same house, do the same job and have the same routines until the end of your life. To not be able to experience all the stages of raising a child.

I have to remind myself of this last statement often these days. The growth in Sam has brought greater connection, as his comprehension has blossomed and his attunement to the world has awakened. Like a little flower bud, he has unfolded to the light of this big world. And with growth, comes challenge. With awareness comes a greater sense of personal want, of the ability to express (in cries) what is desired. No longer go with the flow and whatever mom and dad wants. Alive to the world is a little man that knows what he wants, likes his own routines, and is developing preferences.

It is hard not to pigeonhole this stage of development, see the immediate frustrations as so big that they block out the bigger picture of why we are even raising a child. Why are we raising a child? I have asked myself this, usually in the moments when I am mourning my past childless life. Why did we choose to bring a child into this world? And then there are moments that explode my heart open, that take my momentary wonder and love and happiness to another degree never thought possible before Sam. His smile, his personality, his laugh, his Samness, even his cries which signify his desires, which means he has a voice. I chose to have a child because it is the greatest creative act ever. I chose to have a child because I get to relive childhood in a way, get to experience all the fun of splashing in mud puddles, reading the same book over and over again, and getting messy with fingerpaint.

August 1

Gratitudes: 1. The sunset this morning, the wind blowing the warm air. Taking a moment to breathe it all in.

2. My children. They challenge and delight me and leave me a better person for it all at the end of the day.

3. A day spent on the water, paddle boarding, seeing beavers and osprey.

4. My bed and now nice it feels to sleep in...now if we could only get a little more!

5. The smell of the hollyhocks while I sit on the porch. Big towering flowers with a soft scent.

Last Day of July

Returning to this, needing to write, not sure if this is the place I want to be most honest on. 1. The wind in the trees behind me, refreshing breeze after a hot day.

2. Oprah and Deepak meditations. Wanting to live this life more gratefully and therefore, more gracefully.

3. Being open and sharing with other moms, honest about our experiences and our thoughts.

4. Sleeping in and waking up to Phoebe grins and shakes.

5. Being on KHOL today and feeling part of this community, love certain aspects of this place. My home.

I am on the cusp of big growth. Feeling scared and fearful but knowing that the only way to comfort is through vulnerability. I had the thought today, as I looked across the street at the house of my perpetually unhappy neighbor, that I don't want to end up like her. Angry and bitter. What do I have to lose? What is the worst thing that could happen by using my voice? Speaking in mumble jumble here, but it still feels good.

Finding Joy in the Chaos

A trying day, a learning day. Each day a new way to grow as this parenthood journey leaves me bruised but braver, crazy but clearer. Gratitudes:

1. The hummingbird at the feeder, buzzing her tiny wings.

2. Phoebe's recognition of me and the light of her smile.

3. The sunset this evening and the peace of the sky.

4. The smell of muffins baking in the oven.

5. Being with my friend Meg, surrounded by beautiful art.

Day Two

Gratitudes: 1. Sunshine breaking through the fog, bringing warmth to the house.

2. Barre class, sweating, working out, feeling stronger, moving.

3. Breathe and remembering to use it in trying and hard moments.

4. My children's wide mouth grins.

5. Recognizing the struggle of parenthood with Jamie, having him to lean on.

There is so much to be grateful for. And I am.

Return

Gratitudes: 1. Sam's sweet gestures towards his friend, kindness on his face, caring in his actions. This little boy delights and challenges me daily.

2. Phoebe's opened mouth and newly expressed smile...laughter sometimes accompanies it already. It means so much to have a happy expression, to know that she recognizes and responds to who I am.

3. Being able to talk to my mom on the porch in the sunshine with the birds chirping all around us. Being able to see her and my dad daily.

4. The fierceness of the evening storm, mirroring my mood, ending in pink light. Trees thrashing, wind howling, the distant grumble of thunder. Softness following the turmoil.

5. Good, healthy food.

Returning to this blog feels clunky but important. As my feelings towards motherhood swing like a pendulum from side to side, sometimes changing in the matter of hours, the need to document and express becomes even more paramount. It amazes me that my reactions towards my current situation can go from pure bliss and awe in the fact that I get to be mother to two inspiring creatures to the feeling of wanting to flee and start a new life somewhere on my own. This is all such a practice, a process, just like art making. Ahh, art making...I will return to you one day soon.

Decisions

I have recently been offered the opportunity to take a part time job at a local school, teaching 9th and 10th graders art a couple of times a week. It is a wonderful school, and I am sure that I would learn so much about myself and how to guide teenagers through art-making practices. But I am so on the fence about whether this is how I want to use my time away from Sam. Use my time away from Sam...it is deeply precious and not to be taken lightly. Time with a baby is such a different experience. I sometimes think about how I used my time pre-Sam and shake my head at my naive and frivolous self. I try not to spend too long dwelling, as the present is all I have now to shape and form, but it is obvious that time has recast itself in a different role that plays supporting actor to my little son. If I am not going to be with Sam I want to be doing something that feeds my soul and furthers my dreams. I have such a fortunate situation with my parents coming to help take care of Sam and it seems like a gift that needs to be taken with reverence and respect. How do I want to use that time that is just for me? Do I want to teach high schoolers art? I could get so much inspiration from them, it is true. Or do I want to work on my Community Supported Art program, my new Starters project, and a body of work that has been in my head for a little while? I would need to provide structure for myself.

It is time to take some big steps that lead me down a path. I want to get clear on what to say yes to and what to say no to. Although I can see the beauty in so many directions and have interests that run the gamut, there is such peace in saying "yes" to one opportunity and seeing where the twists and turns take you. It is time to stop turning away from my own art and making a myriad of excuses for putting myself out there and using my creative voice. As I have written before, little Sam is my guide and my inspiration for moving forward towards a more creative light.

Valley Locked

Feeling locked into the hole that is Jackson is a common situation come spring. The need to escape and see new environments and strange faces is most poignant as the winter season dies down and spring-like signs begin to emerge. I think that this may be one of my longest stretches ever of being here without escaping to the east coast, a bustling city, or a climbing adventure. Life takes on a different flavor with a child, for sure, but I am realizing this is not to be used as an excuse for inaction. In fact, travel is more important than ever. I am not just referring to grand trips abroad with tons of planning and forethought...These trips are definitely important, especially in order to expose yourself and your family to different customs, cultures and people, but even day trips an hour away add new perspective to life. This past weekend we treated my parents to a day spent at Turpin Meadow Ranch. A remote destination down Buffalo Valley Road, just a little ways past the turn-off to Moran, Turpin Meadows offers a feeling of escaping, even though the towering Tetons are still the backdrop. The meandering, now frozen Buffalo River winds by small, updated cabins and a larger lodge that houses a cozy fire, an amazing kitchen, and ski rentals for the variety of cross-country travels on the grounds. Laidback, quiet, and food that rivals anything found in Jackson, it was hard to just do a day-trip. I wanted to stay for a week. Jamie and I wanted to be the ones running the place in fact!

Just driving away from familiar town, north into the Park where the sky opens up and the snowdrifts grow, felt refreshing. The rest of your life gets put on hold in new environments because your senses take center stage and bask in the discovery of new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Pulling Sam in the Burley on three miles of groomed track, sighting wolf tracks and hearing the birds chirping, surrounded by Ponderosa pines and dazzling blue sky. A warm, crackling fire and friendly hosts, homemade goodness on the tongue, the smell of real food being cooked. The slowness of pace, the simplicity of action, food, conversation. The quiet of being in the woods. I came back to Jackson rejuvenated because I had experienced something new, with my family, and turned off parts of my brain that are really automated (and not always helpful) in my familiar surroundings.

The weekend reminded me of the importance of getting away. How doing so reminds you of who you are at the core and allows your imagination to open up to what you can aspire to be. We will be back to Turpin Meadows, maybe in a new season so we can experience it anew. But the take away message is to explore, be curious, get out of dodge, and bask in the newness of experience.

[contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

Reason

Yesterday I was in love with motherhood. Today I just liked it. The ups and downs of this journey amazes me constantly, how quickly the emotions rise and crest, jumbled into one wave. This is the most exhausting thing I have ever done, being a mother, and there are days when being in the moment seems impossible. I long for interaction, for adult conversation, for busyness, and completing a to-do-list. When I can stop thinking about the future or reminising about the past and really just be with Sam, my mood definitely improves. Going through the rough stuff, the moments when I want to run away to a different life, are important to acknowledge though as well. Today as I was watching my friends little boy, getting a taste for how it would be having two toddlers in my life, I was listening to Teri Gross on NPR. She was talking to Jennifer Senior who has written the new book All Joy, No Fun: The Modern Paradoxs of Parenthood. It was so interesting, and I want to go back and listen more carefully and read the book because there were nuggets in what she was talking about.  She spoke a bit about helicopter parents, about how in this day in age so many more parents have time to be involved in every aspect of their child's life. How that isn't all that good, really. Autonomy and the ability to do something by yourself is of great importance, a quality to start nurturing at a young age. I love watching Sam play by himself, how he dives into a book or creates these little made-up games. He can be by himself. I want to give him the space to explore, to make mistakes, to create successes. I want to keep my mouth shut more. And not do things for him when he is perfectly capable out of a desire for a quicker outcome.

Senior also spoke about how reasoning with a toddler is impossible because their prefrontal cortex is not developed and they have no comprehension of time. I had to chuckle as I am already starting to experience this phenomena with Sam, in his ripe old age of 13 months. Toddlers are completely in the moment, again that concept, and if we adults can relish that and recognize how much there is to learn from our little ones life will be a whole lot easier. There will always be the days when everything feels off...eating, napping, timing, etc. But there is beauty here too. Beauty in the chaos.

Starting Here

Returning to this practice, this place of emptying, spilling my day onto the screen for others to view and me to remember. It is getting to the point in motherhood where my life before a child is fading and my present is expanding into a forever future of being a mom. To a baby now a toddler, to a teenager to a young adult...the cycle of life will play out before my eyes as my own life continues onward. It is absolutely gorgeous and stunning to witness the transformation of your child, while at the same time the expansion of your heart in a way that you never knew it could stretch. Such deep welling of emotion that shocks me at moments, regular moments, with its intensity. Sam is love, utter love.

I am such a different person than almost two years ago. Crazy to think that around this time in 2012 Jamie and I flippantly decided I should go off birth control and see what happens. Our life would begin to change only a couple of months later, although deep denial kept us holding on to our independent lifestyles for as long as possible. I wasn't as brave then. Although courage is something that will always be a continuous struggle, I recognize that with the emergence of Sam in my life I try a little bit harder to be the person I want to be. At the same time, to like the person that I am. I have written about this often, about how Sam has changed my life for the better, but I am amazed daily at the impact that his little but humongous being has on my life. Again, Sam is love.

He puts himself to bed now after nursing. Eager to get in his crib with his Norman and blankie, to see the soothing lights from his turtle nightlight. Talking and laughing himself to sleep, happy till the very end (most nights anyway). So many lessons from this little one....I love you Sam.

Gratitudes

1. This beautiful morning with the sun glistening off of the snow and the magical mountaintops. It is going to be balmy out today! 2. For Jamie taking little dog up on the Pass with him...someday I will exercise with her again.

3. For my parents, my Mom walking Olive yesterday and my Dad putting up trim downstairs.

4. For the slowly growing paperwhites on the dining room table, about to open and share their white faces and sweet smell.

5. For my friend, Dreh, who came over yesterday and worked her magic on my poor hurt foot. Feeling better today!

 

Gratitudes: December 3

1. For Sam's sweet snuggle this morning, his downy baby hair against my cheek. 2. For our beautiful Christmas tree and the white lights that decorate it. It smells so sweet in the house.

3. My parents and their complete adoration of Sam.

4. The cool, crisp air in my lungs as I ran around East Jackson, Olive racing ahead of me.

5. Honest words.

Gratitudes- December 1

I would like to be on this blog more. If nothing else, I am planning on coming each day this month and posting my gratitudes. I want to adopt a regular gratitude practice and this feels like the right spot to begin at. 1. Sam's smile-continually lights up my life

2. My hot cup of tea this morning: Earl Grey with honey and half and half

3. My mom's muffins

4. My dad getting his knees wet while he sawed down our Christmas tree.

5. Our twinkling tree in the living room...Thank you tree.

Limbo

The fog swirled around the valley, small pockets of blue sky offering some relief from the heavy clouds, as I made my way up and over the Pass. It felt like I was leaving a piece of myself behind, despite the feeling of utter freedom and the welcome silence of the car, the only sounds KHOL and the spinning of my tires against pavement. How did I get to this place? The mother-to-be who was so scared of sacrificing her alone time for a little one seems light years away from the mother who finds herself missing her child after half an hour. The conflicting feelings of wanting this opportunity to see my best friend without interruption, like the old days, and the desire to turn the car around and give little Sam one more hug. I have become someone that would be a stranger to my former self, who prided herself on her independence and relished in her ability to get up and go to NYC when she wanted to. I miss that woman somedays, other times I barely notice that she has taken a backseat. I think that this limbo between feeling nostalgic about the past and the inability to concentrate on anything but the present moment is territory that comes with being a mother. At least this mother. Some days I am on cloud nine with my life wrapped around Sam's, flowing with his needs, responsive to his requests. Others days (although they are frequent they are still well known guests) I think fondly of my former ability to do exactly what I wanted when I wanted.

It was wonderful to get away from Sam for a night and be with Claire. To fully dive into our friendship and relish in the deepness of our conversations and interactions. My full attention given to her. No interruptions. No crying. No jumping up to follow the now crawling baby around. To spend two hours in the Patagonia Outlet without fearing a meltdown and to stay up late drinking wine on the couch, not worrying about the alcohol effecting my milk supply or trying to get to bed in order to wake up with Sam at all hours of the night. I revived a piece of myself that had been dormant and that I realized is still hungry, hungry for the space to stretch herself and relax her body and be quiet. And that need is paramount to being a good mom because I missed Sam so much some moments that it hurt. Missed his little laugh and his concentrating face and his bravery as he conquers the great feat of crawling.

I have an amazing husband. Without a trace of doubt in his voice he offered for me to take the weekend away. He did the feedings (the stipulation was that I left him a good supply of milk), he put Sam to bed, he changed and clothed and cuddled with him. He sent me updates that put my heart at ease. Along with my parents, he made my adventure north possible and peaceful.

One thing I realized on the couch with Claire, is that Sam is not only my catalyst for taking more action in my life but my dedication to him, my full-time job of motherhood, has made me calm down with "finding my purpose in life". And with that lack of obsession hanging over my head I am now finally finding more purpose in my life, through Sam, with Sam. I am not dwelling so much in my head but listening more to my heart and just doing. Funny how life works....

Sleep Monster

I realized that I never published this...written weeks ago, but still partially relevant now. Recently at night when I wake up naturally by body waits for the soft mumblings, the cries that escalate as the minutes tick by from quiet murmurs into come-and-pick-me-up-now wails... It is almost as if I can sense when Sam is about to stir, as if I am gearing up for the earful that is about to wind its way from his bedroom into ours. Our champion sleeper has turned  into a pretty-good-sleeper-most-of-the-time. He is more aware of the world, on the cusp of crawling, about to cut his first tooth and really loves his mom and his dad and just wants to hang out with us. At three in the morning. That is his witching hour, when sleep is boring and lying on the couch kicking and throwing his arms around and inadvertently hitting one of his half-asleep parents in the face is much more entertaining.

It still amazes me that I have to get out of bed and rescue the little man. That our lives have come to this. Not that it is bad, just extremely different from the autonomy and independence that my life once held. Our lives are really not our own. We get up at any hour if the howling is loud enough and work hard to calm a crying baby. We have tried the cry-it-out technique. But the sound of Sam gagging on his own tears and his little chest gasping through phlemy breaths is heart-wrenching. Maybe we are soft, but lying on the couch and being near him seems to comfort him. And that is rewarding. In the moments in the dark when I wish only to be back in my own bed under the warm covers, I try to remember that these episodes are fleeting. That at some point Sam won't need me as often and later he won't want me to snuggle with him. For now, Dad and I are his world and what a privilege it is to occupy such an important and inspirational position.

Roller coaster

I feel like I am on one often and, not being a huge fan of carnival rides, I would really like to get off and walk on my own two feet, upon the earth. I recognize that I have a choice in this, whether to partake in the ride or resist the ups and downs.... I wrote the above last week and have since then been working hard to remember that I have a choice in every moment. I can stop my own meltdown by breathing and then moving Sam and myself on to our next activity. This is a period of great transformation, for both him and I, I am discovering. He is in the grips of the 8 month growing spurt when suddenly teeth are erupting and the frustration of not being able to move himself around is hitting him hard. He is more aware to the world, his brain capacity growing rapidly, and his little personality opening up like a blossoming flower. A flower that screams sometimes, especially when he is tired or does not get to stand with parental support. I am attempting (although not always successfully) to just be here in the now with him, to take his good days and his bad with as even a demeanor as possible, breathing through it all with the awareness that this too will pass. And before I know it I will have a toddler, a tween, a teenager. An exercise in savoring the multitude of moments that are Sam, whether he is smiling or frowning.

I have been meditating daily with Oprah and Deepak Chopra on their 21-day Meditation Challenge, invited by my mom to participate. I think that it is changing my life or at least making me think a little deeper than before. The quiet practice that occurs during Sam's morning nap is a delectable treat, Deepak's soothing voice like honey in my ears. There are so many important points to take in that I wish that the challenge could just repeat and repeat and repeat in hopes that the lessons would become engrained in my memory. If only practice and meditating worked like that. It actually takes a great deal of work to think about how others spirits are mirrors of your own, that energy is real and can be influenced by your mood and behavior, even that gratitude needs to be extended to everyone that you meet. I have realized how quick I am to swear in the car as someone cuts me off or how easily I judge someone by their mannerisms, whether I realize I am doing it or not. But I am recognizing these patterns and, with Sam as my catalyst, am working to change these behaviors that do not serve me or this planet.

There is so much more to write, but I promised myself tonight that I would get to the blog and just get something out. Tomorrow can be another topic that has been on my mind. Take is one post at a time...and stay off the roller coaster:)