We

Some of us have c-sections
and some of us labor.

Some of us do not have epidurals
and some of us do.

Some of us give birth
and some of us become parents in other ways.

Some of us put together nurseries
and some of us make room for our babies in our beds.

Some of us bottle feed and
some of us breast feed.

Some of us sleep train
and some of us are sleep trained.

Some of us go to work to provide
and some of us stay home to provide.

Some of us use cloth diapers
and some of us use disposables.

Some of us make up our minds
only to have them changed by experience.
And some of us make up our minds
only to have them changed by circumstance.

Some of us do a little bit of all these things.
Others across the world do very few.

Yet, even with the varied paths we take,
we are the same–
Bonded across oceans of difference
by our incomparable love
for our children.

Angels

There are many types of angels: guardian angels, messenger angels, archangels . . . and angels who swoop in from Oregon to rescue tired mamas from piles of dishes and laundry, watch over sweet babies while their parents have a few hours alone together for the first time in months, and smite ancient, peeling vinyl from bathrooms as well as molding dry wall from laundry rooms.  I call that angel my Mamatu (AKA Carl’s mom).  : )

For the past week, my Mamatu and my niece have been staying with us for a visit.  I was embarrassed before they arrived because our house is so far from being even remotely guest-worthy and with all the appliance/electrical craziness, I had no dishwasher or working dryer until this past Monday.  And even doing what dishes I could during baby nap-times and hanging clothes on the line to dry, I simply could not get ahead.  On the first day of her visit, she just got up, went into the kitchen and cleaned it.  Completely.  Dishes and all.  Over the next few days she breezed through the laundry, removed the nasty vinyl from the master bath, cut the molding drywall out of the laundry room, sanded and caulked the walls, and continued to do the dishes every day of her visit.

It certainly cannot be considered a vacation!!!!!!  But I am eternally grateful for the desperately needed help.  Now that the basics are caught up, I’ve already done the few dishes in the sink this morning and done meal prep for dinner tonight and the baby has only been sleeping for thirty minutes!  She gave me just the boost I needed to (mostly ; ) stay on top of things.  Along with that, she delighted and entertained her granddaughters every day with walks and silly fun, allowing Carl and I a much-needed date and freeing me up to reorganize our bathroom and clothes, removing the things we aren’t using so that we only have a few boxes to contend with each day instead of the fifteen or so we had been living out of for the past month.

In summary, God bless and keep my amazing Mamatu, who came and vanquished the worst of the chaos.

We all love you so very much and promise that the next visit will be more play and less work!  And thank you for the beautiful angel you made for us, every time I look at her, I think of how gracious you are and how much you’ve done to help us kick start a good, new life.  : )
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Temporary Insanity

I was standing in the kitchen when it hit.

Four sleepless nights in.

There were dishes on every square inch of countertop

coats in our chairs

stacks of mail

baby toys

dog harnesses and leashes and toys

an unopened toaster in the center of the table

the recycling overflowing it’s box in the kitchen

the garbage overflowing its can in the entryway

I hadn’t showered

the coffee was gone

I was trying to pick up

but there was nowhere to put anything

I grabbed a Coronita from the fridge

I knew I needed a moment

a quiet moment

a cold, little beer

and everything would look possible again

but there was no opener.

I began to feel a little desperate

rifling through boxes I already knew the openers weren’t in

and wondering for the fiftieth time this week why we didn’t have a key rack yet.

There are openers on ALL of our key chains

yet I couldn’t find a single one.

But I need this little beer!!!!

I need a little moment,

to close my eyes and imagine a completed kitchen, I love

A pantry with shelves

a living room with furniture

just one moment of peace

if I don’t get it . . .

Inspiration struck,

sweet college years

and sweet, ugly counter top we plan to rip out

so I felt no guilt as I held the beer against it’s edge

and slammed the bottom of my fist into the cap

on a grin

as it flew off with a satisfying pop.

Disaster averted.
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Morning Mama Thoughts

My favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is watching her choose where she would like to go and what she would like to do when she gets there.  She used to be limited to where we put her or what toys we presented her with, and now another layer of her personality is coming through.

My least favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is that there are now roughly 10,762 new and exciting ways for her to accidentally maim/injure/kill herself.  I have nicknamed her “suicidal octopus” because I swear she has eight, lightning-fast arms and they’re all reaching for something dangerous!

We are getting closer to the end of nursing and I’m both excited and sad.  On one hand, I will be SO happy to be able to wear whatever I want without thinking about how hard/easy it will be to nurse in.  On the other hand, because my wild child is always on the go, nursing time has been our snuggle time and I wonder if/how she will snuggle when there’s no need to stop and snack in my arms.

I think about my parents all the time.  Having a child of my own puts an entirely different spin on so many of my memories.  Like when I was twelve and I was riding my horse bareback, with a bridle I made out of baling twine and jumping the irrigation canal/all the irrigation pipe in the field.  If I remember right, my dad was supposed to be watching me, but he had to go handle a work emergency so mom came to pick me up.  She was terrified of horses and I remember seeing her white knuckles on the fence as we thundered up the way.  I have always thought that story was hilarious.  Now I can actually imagine the worry and fear she must have felt that I would be hurt.  To my  mother’s credit, she did not punish me; she signed me up for jumping lessons.  : )

Another hilarious thinking of my mom moment came when I was exiting the restroom and passed a woman and her young son going in together.  It struck me for the very first time that my mother actually taught me to use the bathroom!!!!  Thanks, mom.  : )

I am so happy to finally be in a permanent living space.  Every situation we’ve been in since she was born has been temporary.  She’s been shuttled across the country multiple times, spent countless hours in the car while we looked for vehicles, then apartments, then houses.  She seems pretty happy wherever we are, but I think she’ll feel the difference as we get settled.

A lovely friend sent me a lovely book (The Magic of Motherhood) and though it’s hard to find time to read, my favorite line from the early chapters is, “Your body will be a home to your children.”  How very true.  My body doesn’t look or feel quite the way it did before my Sunshine came along but there is no place where she feels as safe and comfortable as my arms.  No other body will do, it’s only mine that gives her such peace and security–how beautiful is that?

She is swinging in the living room, fast asleep while I sip coffee and write.  Occasionally, I look up and her face swings into view.  If I had known before getting pregnant just how much I would feel as a mother, I might have chosen another path.  It’s frightening sometimes, the depth and breadth of it.  What I know now that she’s here is that I’d feel it all a thousand times for just one of her sunny smiles.

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Thursday

I am in the shower taking my time, shaving my legs, washing my hair . . . glad to be rediscovering some semblance of the vanity I knew before months of sporadic bathing and routinely forgetting to brush my teeth–before motherhood, that is.  Out in the kitchen, my husband is dancing to Mambo Italiano with our 8 month old daughter.  When the song ends, the sound of their mingled voices gets closer.  I hear him say, “A is for Astronaut or Aerospace” and in my head, I think “or appaloosa . . .”  She babbles back and they move on to “B.”  This time the word is one I don’t know, likely something to do with space and/or engineering.

Today is swim class day: one of my favorite days of the week.  The pool is always fun and even though the class is short, it wears out my sweet Sunshine for the rest of the day.  Taking a sip of my coffee (another rare treat, shower coffee, usually these days my showers are too short to enjoy a cup of joe), I think about my life a year ago.  I was tired, very pregnant, worried about the future, and so sad to be leaving a life I loved so much for a complete unknown on the other side of the country.  I didn’t enjoy being pregnant and while part of me wanted so badly for her to be born so I didn’t have to be pregnant anymore, another part of me desperately wanted to just stay pregnant forever so nothing would have to change.

In the kitchen, I can hear they’ve moved on to “E,” which is apparently for “Electromagnetism.”  In my head, I think, “or eventing.”  I take another sip of coffee and realize it’s getting late, I should hop out so Carl can head in to work and Sunshine can start her nap.  But before shutting off the water, I stand there just one more minute listening to my new life.  It isn’t perfect.  I still miss my Idahome so much I ache sometimes, and Lord knows I’m going to have to make a friend or two here before I completely forget how to socialize like a normal, adult human.  But the beauty of this new life takes my breath away sometimes.

I knew I was going to love watching Carl be a father, but the reality of it is beyond anything I imagined.  I hoped we would find a house in the country, but our little farm is straight out of a Robert Frost poem.  And I was sure I would love my baby, but what I feel when I hear her little voice babble along with her father’s in the next room makes me wish we had more words for love.  I realize I’ve been standing in the shower crying for several minutes now.  My coffee is cold, but my heart is warm.  Drying off my tears along with the rest of the water, I step out into the chilly bathroom.  Carl comes in to remind me he’s late, the baby reaches her sticky hands out for me with a big, drooly, two-tooth grin, and . . .

I’m happy.

 

A Thousand Loves, A Thousand Losses

To be a mother is to love and lose a thousand children within each one.  I have already so fiercely loved a newborn who is lost to me forever.  She will never again fit into her tiny, newborn clothes or stare up at my face while she nurses, blinking eyes that seem big enough for the world to fall in.   I have already so deeply loved a three month old, working so hard at mastering her hands and expanding her voice.  I can never again hear her first giggle, never again watch in awe as she rolls over for the first time.  Just as I am catching hold of who she is in a given moment, she has already changed and developed into the next; which, undoubtedly, I love every bit as much as the one that came before it, even as I grieve what and who I’ve lost.

She is six months old now, stronger and more vocal: practicing standing up on her chunky legs with little help and babbling at me throughout the day.  I love her so very much I ache with it when I hold her as she sleeps, feed her, and watch her play and yet, I know it is almost time to let go yet again.  My sweet Sunshine, who once needed me or her father for absolutely everything, is getting closer and closer to crawling, eating, and standing on her own.  I get it now.  I understand why people say, “It goes so fast!” a phrase I grew tired of hearing when I was pregnant.  They aren’t talking about time.  They are trying to give you a hint about what is to come–a thousand loves, a thousand heart-rending losses, all worth it for the incredible joy of watching your child grow . . .

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Tiny Stranger

She wears purple and ocean colors–my favorites.  She goes on long walks with me and we visit the alpacas at the end of the lane, the coyotes and elk in the field, and the neighborhood horses.  She loves milk and staring at ceiling fans but intensely dislikes being swaddled and chirps like a little bird when she’s first waking up.  Beyond these things . . . well, I know very little.

She is our tiny stranger–depending upon us for her every need while at the same time confidently demanding food, snuggles, and entertainment.  I soak in her baby smiles and sleepy chirps knowing she will continue to change at a pace I’d heard about, but only came to understand in the two months, four pounds, and four inches since her sunny, Sunday arrival in July.

It is strange to think that I’ve been with her every moment of her existence yet hardly know her at all, and it is both lovely and bizarre to realize I won’t for years to come.
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