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Archive for March, 2009

Tonight is a normal night. Nothing too awfully unusual here.

Delaney went to sleep virtually the same as any other night and predictably woke 45 minutes later to be helped back to sleep. She’s been asleep since then.

Kyle just headed up to bed earlier than me in preparation for another busy week. He’ll be fast asleep by the time I am ready to turn in an hour to an hour and a half from now.

And here I sit, relaxing, for the first time since I opened my eyes this morning.

Oh, don’t get the wrong impression. It wasn’t that I worked all day or anything. Far from it. I spent a wonderful day with my mother and Delaney while Kyle was at the SU game in Miami.

It’s just that even as a stay-at-home mom, my days are a different kind of full these days than they were just a short seven months ago. They’re nonstop, but not in a way that’s as measurable as when I worked full-time.

So, probably like a lot of new moms, I always look forward to the time of the evening when I’m sprawled out on the chaise-loung portion of our sectional, a kitty on one side and some fluffy pillows on the other. The right television show and the laptop on my lap (where else?) just add to my contentment.

Aaaaaahhhhhhh. Peace. Quiet.

Yes. This is great.

Yep. Quiet.

Nothing to do.

Paradise.

Damn. I don’t know what to do with myself. You’ve got to be kidding me. So many options. I could really do anything.

Anything.

That’s the word that seems to fill my head with confusion and uncertainty.

Anything.

During the day, there are boundaries of sorts. Nothing firm, but just generally our lives–the things that keep us moving: changing diapers, feeding, playing, sleeping, and any short outings that fit into those other categories. 

It’s non-negotiable. These are things that need to be done. And I enjoy every minute of them.

But of course I look forward to the nights where I have some time to just spend with myself or however I choose.

However I choose.

Sounds wonderful, right?

In theory, yes. But I become paralyzed with the options. They call to me, asking me to take responsibility for my own wants and needs or simply for the things around me that are important.

They remind me of the many times I say,”I don’t know, you choose,” to Kyle when he asks me the simplest of questions.

They taunt me about unfulfilled dreams and remembrances of how much I loved to write as a child. Or the wreckage of many incomplete projects strewn about my past: massage therapy school or a doctoral program in psychology.

They sit, stacked on top of one another, like musty, yellowed newspapers in a crowded attic. 

And they serve about as much purpose. They are only there, because someone–me–puts them there. Like the elderly woman that hoards old newspapers, so do I. I hoard useless, outdated thoughts.

I hoard doubts and fears about myself.

During the day, they are kept at bay by the successes I experience as a mother.

“Oh, she’s doing the cutest thing with her eyes now . . . come look!”

“Music class was so cute today. She was so funny with the drumsticks!”

“Yep, she ate all of her banana and rice cereal today. What a big girl!”

And I love all of them. They are so much a part of everything that makes me happy right now.

But when the night comes, I am reminded of the same doubts that have been lurking inside me for so many years. And they remind me of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever  You Go, There You Are, because, although geography and life situations have changed, the core of my experience has remained similar.

There are things I know, and I don’t discount those. They are tough things. For example, I know that we are on the right path in raising Delaney the way we are. I know that I’m a good mom and that it’s the best thing I’ll ever do in my life.

But when the day slows, and she sleeps, I remember who I was before she was born, who I still am. And that is where I sit right now.

There never seems to be enough time. Except for when there is. And then?

Cheri Huber, one of my favorite authors, recalls her joy at entering a Buddhist monastery. She just knew that all the issues and haunts would be gone, because, after all, she was going to be a Buddhist monk. Surely that would clear all the ugly uncertainties away. Monks don’t have baggage, right?

She was stunned to find that after just a few short hours of silence in the monstery that her mind went running down the same path it always did. She projected all sorts of things onto the other individuals there and began to story all kinds of things about them and herself.

Buddhist monastery or home on the couch.

Wherever you go, there you are.

So, my point in writing all of this is that an hour later, here I still am, having written all of this. I feel more productive, because I completed something that goes into the category of “productive” in my mind.

And if I hadn’t?

Nothing, except for what I would have thought about it.

And there’s never enough time to do nothing around here.

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So, this weekend was garage sale weekend for our neighbors and us. Preparing for and having a garage sale is a much bigger deal than I realized, but we made it happen. As with so many things in my life, if my mother had not been a part of the preparation, it probably would not have happened with such ease. But she was, and it did.

We were all up while it was still dark out, which is extra weird living in Florida, where there is so much sunlight, you can’t imagine getting up while it’s dark. It’s just weird and makes me feel drowsy just thinking of it. I digress . . .

We were all up early, Delaney included, because when mommy wakes, Delaney wakes. She used to sleep well past my waking, but not at this point. So she was already short an hour and a half of sleep, which is pretty substantial for her young age.

Obviously, it wasn’t a normal morning, in that nothing routine was happening. We usually rise fairly slowly, lazing in bed and singing morning songs while Daddy is getting ready for work. We nurse, eventually rise, change diapers and clothes, and get ready to go for our morning walk. All of this at a pretty leisurely pace. And on top of this, I am always focused on the tasks at hand, because that’s what I focus on in the morning.

That’s my morning world, so I’m in it.

Today, not so much.

I rolled out of bed and into the shower while Delaney was still stirring, so she woke up to no one. In itself, not tragic, but not customary in our house. After my shower, I took time to sing good morning songs and say hi and then immediately moved into task mode. Kyle had joined us to say good morning, and we divvied up the tasks to get it all done before 7:30, when the early birds would surely be arriving:

Change Delaney’s diapers: Kyle. Check.
Blow dry hair: me. Check.
Pick out Delaney’s outfit: me. Check.
Get Delaney dressed: Kyle. Check.
Make bed: me. Check.
Get change for garage sale: Kyle. Check.
Make coffee for Grandma: Kyle. Check.
Feed Delaney: me. Check.
Open for shop: Kyle and me. Check.

And now the day is moving, but it’s moving with such a different energy than we usually have. Grandma and Grandpa arrive at 7:30, and Kyle and Grandpa are out the door to go golf. Grandma gets her coffee and heads out to greet the shoppers. I’m scurrying around, trying not to leave my mother completely responsible for the garage sale we–not her–are supposed to be having.

People come and go. Garage sales are interesting, because people breeze through and judge your stuff. You can see it on their faces. Raised eyebrows: hmmm, interesting, I like. Scowls and head shakes: no, not that, that’s not what I want. Picking things up, wondering if $3 is negotiable or not.

Is that breadmaker still working? It’s not in a box.
$50 for a PlayStation 2. That’s more than I want to pay.
Ooh, VHS tapes for $1. I wonder if they have Legends of the Fall.
Is that a real Gucci bag? I doubt it.
Who would buy a down comforter in Florida?
Wow, lots of baby clothes.
Milk glass . . . I wonder if it’s authentic.

It’s quite a study. I was amused at watching people play it cool as they negotiated. It was kind of fun.

But it was a distraction, and Delaney knew it. Already so overtired, she was a trooper. I had her in my Moby, so she was content to be close to me. She was taking everything in with her Daddy’s serious face on. She would occasionally growl (she does this . . . it’s a redhead thing, I think), but she was generally very quiet. She looked very tired.

And where I would generally be tending to her and the dog in the morning just getting our day moving, I was rushing around moving things, talking to people, trying to make our displays more attractive (garage sale merchandising–big business), tending to my mom and getting her coffee, all of that stuff. When I picture it, I am moving much more quickly than I actually was, but I was still just preoccupied with stuff. Again, in itself, not tragic, just not customary.

Around 8:45, Delaney showed the “big tired” signs that prompted me to take her upstairs to try to get her to nap. I laid down with her to nurse her, as we always do, and she nursed and flailed and twisted and turned and nursed and fussed and cried some and grunted and flailed and twisted and turned and nursed more. This was followed by more flailing and fussing and twisting and turning and nursing and crying and grunting.

At some point I caught myself and I found the moment. I stopped. And I realized that I was floating. That’s the best word I can find for what happens when I’m preoccupied and not present. I’m light, airy, ungrounded, and my mind is swirling and twirling–upward, it always seems.

Anyway, I caught myself as I looked at her little body and I thought: of course she’s flailing and twisting and turning. She’s the physical representation of my mind right now. Moving, distracted, unfocused, unable to settle.

And I stopped.

I put my head–formerly being supported by my hand and arm–down on a pillow and I breathed slowly and steadily. I imagined that every exhale pushed my head further and further down in the soft billowy pillow.

And I settled.
And she settled.

Slowly, we both settled.
Life slowed.
Everything became a bit more still.

She nursed very calmly and with purpose. It was rhythmic and natural, and I had the sense that we were part of a knowing that was so much bigger than us.

Eventually, she fell asleep, and her breathing slowed and deepened. She assumed her usual arm-over-the-eyes position and slept.

Peace.

Which brings me to my title of this blog.

At this point in her psychological development, she is undifferentiated from me. To her, I am her, she is me. My movements are her movements. My moods are her moods. My happiness is her happiness.

My agitation is her agitation.
My settling is her settling.

She is teaching me to capture moments. In just attending to her, I am attending to the present and also to myself.

She is my mirror.

And I don’t mean that to suggest that this is her purpose in life–to be my mirror. That’s my lesson and something I attend to through her.

But she is, in fact, the most accurate mirror.

In order to care for her the best I can, I have to find the present moment again and again and again during the day. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done that requires me to do that.

So interesting.

Life lessons spring forth from a community garage sale.
And I am humbled once more.

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