Papa was out of town for a few days this month, working on a rental property we own, so it was just us chicks kicking back and running the show at home.
I almost feel guilty typing this, because I know how it could be misconstrued as quite the mom brag, but it really wasn’t a big deal to fly solo in parenting for a bit. Even though you ran a fever after your 4 month shots, vetoed any naps, and sister Ivy puked all over the house from eating goose poo (after she painfully twisted mamas wrist by yanking on the leash to say hi to a neighbor), I’d say we pretty well held it together and managed to look good doing it!
Sweet, smiley Saylor: Truly. You have made this transition into motherhood so...dare I say...easy.
Sure, there have been moments more difficult than others. Some have surprised us (you’re telling me it’s natural for my nipples to feel such immense pain at the start of nursing?) and others are kinda “duh” (living far from family/help is a freaking drag). Motherhood has felt like slowly unpacking a mysterious treasure. My approach thus far has been to remain as humble, present, and grateful as possible. This mentality works for us. You are a breeze, a joy, a gift to care for.
Quite a few well intentioned folks have made off-hand comments when I tell them about your gifted grace, saying things like “Just you wait until her sleep regression!” or “Wait until she is mobile!” or my personal favorite; “That just means your next kid will be a nightmare!”. And I gotta tell ya, these don’t sit well with me. I started letting these words seep into my mind to the extent I actually found myself describing your easy going nature recently by including a disclaimer. Placing a verbal asterisk next to our truth with an awkward “but I know that means our second will be super hard, haha!” - essentially attempting to beat them to the punch or down play our good fortune so as not to offend anyone. I started to accept the projection of hard times ahead in a way that implied we deserve them, versus expressing deep gratitude for the positive rhythm we have now. Worst of all, I started to let myself believe it was necessary to feel anxious about whatever may lie ahead.
Now, the most generous assumption I can make in these instances is that folks are striving for some combination of misplaced connection, a place to vent struggles, a desire to share experiences or “wisdom”.
Sure. I get that. I know there will be tough stuff on our journey. I know we will be excruciatingly tired or stressed or scared. I know this without many months of mamahood under my belt because what I lack in parenting experience, I make up for in having fully lived my own life. And that is part of the trade; to experience this new kind of love that aches and pulsates in my chest, I must also roll the dice on fresh potential for pain.
It’s what I signed up for.
Recently, while volunteering at one of our Young Mom Connection meetings for teen moms, I fell into this pattern of negative future talk in response to a fellow volunteer saying “the first one tricks you into having a second - and then the second is way harder!”
Ms. Connie, the founder of the organization, overheard this. Gently shaking her head, she firmly whispered to us “oh, no. that won’t be true”. I’m not sure what it is about Ms. Connie (other than her absolutely beautiful, generous, soft spoken soul) but her simple words and loving energy behind them set us free. I physically felt a weight lifted, Saylor, as though she had passed me a secret permission slip to not buy into any narrative that didn’t feel true for us.
And so we practice being here and now with you, instead. We shake off any invitation to fear your growth or the path of your life, understanding that worrying in the present won’t help alleviate struggle in the future. Brene Brown (you’ll hear mama quote her A LOT) has a perfect way of speaking on this. To summarize: she teaches us that joy is the most vulnerable emotion we can feel, and 'practicing the hurt' is simply a way of engaging with foreboding joy. It tricks us into thinking we will be more prepared for struggle if we spend time obsessively thinking about it, but it simply isn’t true. Hard times will be hard, no matter how much you future trip on them. Anxiety strips us of the full potential for joy in the moment and therefore negative planning is hardly ever worth the mental bandwidth. Practicing mindfulness each day doesn't have to be perfect for it to be worthwhile, either. Just know it is a choice you can always return to.
How does that silly Bobby McFerrin song go? “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double"
One of my favorite moments in any yoga class I’ve ever taken comes at the very end, when we bow to one another as a symbol of acknowledging our shared life. Namaste, we croon in unison. Roughly meaning: The light within me sees the light within you. Some folks simply dip their chins at this time, or lean slightly forward, but I’ve always felt compelled to bend all the way over my lap until my forehead just about grazes the floor. There is a humility that washes over me after I practice, not unlike the humility I feel each day with you.
In this space of deep gratitude for the experience of being your mother, I feel compelled to say:
Mamas of sick children - I bow to you.
Mamas parenting solo most, or all, of the time - I bow to you.
Mamas whose babies need extra help learning and growing - I bow to you.
Mamas of multiples - I bow to you.
Mamas who love their babies so much that this love aches and pulsates in their chests, reverberating out into the world with a purity unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, but who also just need a gosh darn MINUTE every now and again - I bow.
May the present offer you all the goodness you are worth, Saylor. May you trust yourself enough to believe it.
Loving you always, my girl.