The only thing I can think of is Mama. Life is so wrapped up in that aspect of my being right now that it is the only thing that comes. Well, monkey did too, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything to write about a monkey. I did think about describing the Littlest Pet Shop monkey we have, but being so small, that wouldn’t take long. It is purple, by the way.
Mama is the thing I wanted to be most of all. After a certain point that is. I also wanted to be a model (at age 13…), and an artist, and a writer and finally a professional stage manager. I managed that last one. There’s an M word…manager. I am a very good manager. I can take a lot of things in stride, and sort through chaos pretty neatly. I even won an award as a manager.
But Mama…now that is something else entirely. From the beginning the journey wasn’t easy. After years of constantly being worried about accidentally getting pregnant, it turned out I was infertile. And husband was sporting a few million less sperm than he ought to. We tried to get pregnant. Then we went to a doctor and had tests. Then we tried some more things to get pregnant, finally succeeding after nearly 4 years, and we had a baby. A brilliant, gorgeous, blue-eyed baby girl. She was the best and most important thing that ever happened to me. She still is.
Being a mama was a challenge, but a good one. One that made me grow and stretch and that felt fulfilling. I loved it. My daughter and I were incredibly close. It was joy to be with her and watch her learn. We came up with adventures to go on and things to do each day. When she reached 5 years old, I knew that we would homeschool because I adored being around her. I love teaching her and watching her discover things. I love listening to her narratives.
And I thought that was it. That was my picture of Mama. Me and my girl.
And then…turns out infertile doesn’t mean sterile. After years of knowing we couldn’t conceive on our own and years of thinking that we would need help and a lot of money to have another child, after wrestling with the fact that we only got to do this whole journey once, after coming to terms with that and being okay with that…after all that (roughly 6 years of all that) it turned out I got to be mama again.
She arrived fast, and with a full head of dark hair. She was a surprise in every way possible, from the hair, to her size, to her dark eyes, to how angry she got. Born in Leo, in the year of the Dragon, and she was going to let everyone know it. Everything was different with this baby. It was not a peaceful gazing at the baby and becoming a mom. I feel like I was still slightly surprised by her until she was nearly 6 months old. She had a tongue tie and a lip tie that made it hard for her to get enough milk at first, and she would get a lot of air when she nursed. This made her gassy, and hungry and MAD. So mad. I was shocked by her arrival (40 weeks is not enough to get over nearly 10 years of infertility), and then shocked that she was always upset. Except for the brief hours when she was sleeping. It was nothing like the mama I had envisioned. It was hard, and exhausting and finally at 4 weeks old we got her tongue tie clipped and everything seemed to let out a breath.
Here we are now, big kid is 7, and tiny is 15 months (as of yesterday). Mama looks a lot different from here. Mama is tired. Mama is trying. Mama frequently finds herself short tempered and stressed out. Mama is trying to not yell. Mama is trying to learn new languages to speak to her kids the way she wishes she had been spoken to. Mama is trying so hard to let her girls know she is there for them. Mama is being a mama.
That is the only M word that comes up for me because it is so much of me. There’s another M word: ME. These days, Mama and Me are one and the same.
Finding the language. This is my fight right now. Finding the language that will convey what I am feeling, that will make people sit up and notice, that will relay a message. I feel like right now everything I say is bogged down. Either in trying to not blame someone (or make sure they don’t feel blame), or in trying to translate into 7yo-ese, or toddler-ese, or just because I don’t have the words. I have always been confident in my ability to communicate clearly. I can illustrate and teach, give examples and craft words. But now….right now…everything seems sticky. LIke wading through tar. All the things I am trying to remember are cramming up into the same small chute, trying to come out in an organized manner and get themselves HEARD, DAMMIT!, and instead I end up with word salad. I use words too big for my daughter to understand, and she tunes me out. I ask unreasonable things of my baby and she gets frustrated. I try to convey what I am feeling to my husband and nothing registers. Is it me? Is my universal translator broken? Am I really, finally not making sense?
Where is the language that can convince big kid how much I love her? How much I think she is the most awesome and lovely and kind and smart girl I have ever met. That I think she is incredibly talented and that I hope she chases her dreams down and sits on them until they give. That I want her to be happy more than anything. That I miss the time with her when it was just us and we were a team.
Where is the language that will let my toddler know that she is an amazing surprise and every day I fear I won’t have enough time with her to get to know her. That all I want to do is cuddle and hang out and love on her. That when she gets so frustrated that all she can do is cry, I want to move the world out of her way and make it better. That her hugs and kisses make my world right.
Where is the language that shows my husband that I am running on the edge? That the juggling act I am performing is in dire danger of falling to the ground. That each day seems a bit harder to get everything done. The language that explains how much I feel like I’m missing with my kids each day trying to manage it all, and how much it hurts my heart when I have to juggle the kids to do something I hate. How do I find the words to let him know that I know work is hard on him too, and I miss him and I’m sorry I complain so much?
Do they know? Is any of the language being found?
Much as fall is my favorite time of year, twilight is my favorite time of day. The precipice between day and night has always seemed full of possibility. I am, as you might guess, a night owl.
I discovered the word gloaming during an involved romance novel phase. I believe it was a torrid Scottish affair, with not much plot, and a lot of racing over the heather strewn hills in pursuit of one another. The word though seemed to describe the time if day so much more aptly than dusk or twilight. Dusk and twilight only seemed to describe the color, or how much light was present. Gloaming, though, described the experience. The moment the sun drops behind the hills in the west and the light becomes diffuse and indirect. The way the street lights begin to come on, and how you can see into people’s houses in the moments before they close the curtains. The hush that falls as the daytime sounds fade and the birds stop singing. The feeling of resolution of the day.
I used to head to work about that time of day. In the autumn, I was unlocking the theatre and awaiting the actors arrival right about the time the sun would be touching the mountains. In those days I would sit on the loading dock with a cigarette and a cup of coffee getting ready to start my day as I watched other folks walk home. As full dark fell I would head inside to start my tasks and begin to set up the world of the show. This time of setting up mimicked the quiet of the gloaming. The pause before something else starts.
These days, I barely have a moment to note the sun is down before it’s time to make dinner and sort out the kids at the end of the day. Now it’s my favorite time if day because Daddy is coming home soon, and bedtime approaches. I miss the ritual of watching the night fall. Whole I may not be able to do coffee and cigarettes, perhaps adding so thing to our daily routine would not be amiss.
I used to say I didn’t have any regrets. That every single think I had done had move me to where I was, made me who I was. I still stick to that – mostly. I never saw the point in spending a lot of time regretting what I had or hadn’t done. I couldn’t change it, I could only move forward.
Even now most of my regrets are about smaller things. I regret not saving more money, or using my credit cards too much. I regret not getting good grades in high school (and college). Small things in the grand scheme. Things that can’t be changed, and that I didn’t need to dwell on.
But there is the one thing that I have come to regret. While I was pregnant with Tiny, the situation in my house changed pretty dramatically. And it wasn’t awesome. For me, for Big Kid. I was not the mom I wanted to be, and I am still getting my parenting legs back after that. But the thing I regret is that the last 6 months I had with just Big Kid was derailed and (I hate this word, but it fits) ruined. I was focused on things that were ultimately not my problem and shouldn’t have been my focus. I can’t get that time back ever. I can’t go back to it just being me and Big Kid and have those months back. And I bitterly regret that. It is going to be a while before I can forgive myself for making the decisions that led to the situation.
I dislike having regrets. I feel like I need to make up for it, to fix it somehow. It feels like a weight that I have to carry around with me all the time. All interactions with Big Kid are weighed on that time, and how much I failed her, whether or not she is mad about it, if she will remember it. I can’t change it, but I haven’t quit figured out how to let go of it yet either.
*warm weight of someone small sitting on your lap
*a child’s accomplishment
*settling into bed at the end of the day
* a perfect cup of coffee
*hugs from my husband
*the smell of good food greeting me as I come home
*walks on brisk days
*quiet moments, letting my brain soak in the silence.
*hand knit socks.
*the smell of pine
*watching the snow fall (while inside with a nice cup of hot chocolate)
*being able to love the people in my life
following the daily prompts for November from Writealm.com