I’m usually the one behind the camera but here I am. Not alone, but happy and in love and just as obsessed with high-neck collars as ever.
He's here! Solfinn Koseli Cummings was born August 12. We're just over two weeks into having him here with us, but it feels like he's always been here. He's a super cuddly, sweet baby and luckily for us, still in the sleepy newborn stage. Adjusting to four kids has not been easy but we're really grateful to our friends and church community for bringing us food, taking our kids to the park, and just generally being awesome. My parents also drove 12 hours to be here with us for a couple weeks. There's nothing I love more than watching my friends and family love on my kids. It's been a really special couple of weeks.
I'll be taking a break from freelance copywriting and content strategy to enjoy my time with my family for several more weeks, but I did register for Alt Summit 2019. Are you going too? I can't wait. I'll be accepting client work again beginning October 1 but you're welcome to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow along with me at @koswriter on Instagram and subscribe to my podcast about creativity, tech, and motherhood, Little Things, wherever you love to listen to podcasts.
Happy Baby Days!
I can't believe I'm writing this. I feel like I'm on hyperdrive, experiencing pregnancy whiplash, dramatizing what everybody always says: It goes so fast. But it really does. In less than two months, we'll have a Baby. Another boy baby. Rounding out our family nicely with our current three male children. I'm excited/nervous about birth/excited.
I spent two weeks with my family in Southern California and in Salt Lake City. We played in the sand, watched movies, fell asleep to the sound of waves, and ate lots of dark chocolate. In Utah, we hung out with bestie aunts, uncles, and cousins, ate fresh lettuce from the garden, and attended a dear family friend's funeral. It was a bittersweet visit.
We're back in the Bay. Back to our routine, however different for the summer. Some camps, some preschool, lots of park time, lots of backyard time. I made yogurt for the first time. I spent Fourth of July in the hospital. (All is well.) I'm reading everything I can get my hands on. I took a break from the podcast/blogging/social media in entirety. It felt/feels so good. I'm wrapping up a couple projects and then I'll be home free for several months. I self-prescribed maternity leave from August-October to relieve my mind of what-ifs. I've learned from past mistakes to set boundaries and respect myself and my newborn.
When I had my first baby, I was responding to client emails and making changes when he was one day old. Recalling this makes me quite, quite angry. I didn't know what I didn't know.
The baby swaddles and knit rompers are washed. The bouncer, car seat, and bassinet are ready. I look like I have a basketball stuck to my belly--and have been eating too much ice cream. (I have.) I've only seen him once, at twenty weeks. He was beautiful. Same ski slope nose as his brothers'. Strong heartbeat and kicks. He turned and looked right at the camera, showing the tech and I picture perfect Nightmare Before Christmas skull shot. Still, he looked beautiful. I can't wait to hold him. Have him safe in my arms, anxious to eat and sleep. Give him his name. Dress him up in all his gifted baby clothes and ridiculous bonnets.
I've switched gears entirely from leaning in, to curling up, laying on my left side, holding my stomach, and quietly reading. It's all about the bubble now. Keeping it secure, keeping us safe, and getting through the home stretch.
Approximately six weeks to go until I officially meet this little turkey. I can't wait.
Over the last year, I've worked with Tubby Todd on a variety of projects. Product naming, labels, blog posts, Instagram captions, photo shoots, marketing campaigns, etc. You name it and I probably worked on it. But the most exciting thing I've worked on is a book with the co-founder of Tubby Todd, Andrea Williams. It's called You've Got This, Mama and it's an illustrated guide to help mothers take better care of themselves. It's full of brief personal essays by Andrea, mini journal prompts, and thoughtful activities to offer practical advice and guidance in your daily life. It's absolutely beautiful if I say so myself. I'm so proud to have co-written this book with Andrea. I admire her so much and love how much her confidence and warmth shine through this book.
You've Got This, Mama is now available on Tubby Todd.
We keep two jars in our kids' room. They're mason jars, half full of colorful wool felt balls. Whenever someone hits, yells, or does something typically naughty, we take out a pom pom. Whenever someone does something extra kind or helpful or asks for extra jobs (and we remember to), we add a pom pom. This has created an ebb and flow of pom poms in the jars. Honestly, we thought the jars would fill up a month ago. But alas, sneaky punches and tearful, exasperating breakdowns hold us back. Keenan even created a Pinterest board called Pom Pom Toy Shop, where the boys can pick one thing once they've filled their jar. A seaworthy Octonaut ship, blocks with gears, a Millenial Falcon. But still, no pom poms redeemed or jars emptied.
The jars are half full. Every day they go a little up or a little down, but we're pushing hard pre-Christmas break to get those freaking pom pom jars filled to the brim. The boys need to see a positive result faster and we need to see that they can pause fighting long enough to redeem their tiny wool balls.
Sometimes I write personal essays on motherhood. This is one.
We’ve been here for only a minute. I glance down at my red-faced infant. The desperation on his face echoes the ache in my breasts. If we don’t find a place to nurse in t minus 15 seconds, we’ll both explode.Read More
Five and a half years ago this dance felt unnatural, forced, and lonely. Today it feels full and fleeting. The only thing that's really changed is me.Read More
This is my first post in Artist in Motherhood Residency series. You can read more about it here.
I wonder what Vincent felt as he blended sunset hues or scraped greens of every shade. Did he ever get hungry? It's hard to imagine a genius getting hungry. I imagine him, head down, blending blending blending, then tool to canvas, deliberate and sure. Brows bunched, muscles tensed and stretched. Perfect awkwardness translating a perception in his head into an image of such depth and beauty.
When I saw these paintings this summer at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, I froze. I had just seen this sculpture, which is the most beautiful work of art I have ever seen. (I had just seen the original Christus, so this is saying a lot.) They were so beautiful. I had never seen these paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in any book. I felt a little miffed that I never knew these existed. As if the world had some obligation to me that I should know every work of one of the world's most famous artists. It struck me: somehow Van Gogh painted these masterpieces, in his own corner of the world, and so few (proportionally) knew or know of them. How does this happen?
Recently, we lost a family friend. Not just a family friend, but someone we really, really loved. He was like family to us. His name is Aaron. I can't say "was" because it's still surreal that he is gone. He was a really good person. So sweet. Really funny. A really weird, surprising sense of humor that bubbled out in this warm, quiet way. It manifested itself in surprising texts that truly made you LOL. When he talked to you, he really listened. He made you feel loved and cared for. He was exceptional. Above and beyond in all the things that really matter.
I'm feeling the textures of my life. The paint pushing up against the canvas, the imposing shades of light and dark. The sun setting every evening leaving exhaustion and frayed nerves, or gratitude and serenity. Perhaps it's okay if the artist admits defeat and sets the canvas aside to begin the masterpiece anew. Paint smudges on a smeared palette wait nearby.
The dreaded question. "And what do you do?" My mind stumbles over Stay at Home Mom, Freelancer (but not these last few months), Cummings' Family Manager, etc. I need one of those terrible sweaters that's covered in cutesy embroidery listing, Nurse, Teacher, Chauffer, Chef, etc. with a checkmark next to each label. I'm all of it and more. I'm none of it but more.
I hate that conversation unless I'm talking to someone who might get it. Doesn't have to be a woman, but we probably need more than a couple minutes. Once I stumble over my answer, there's a nervous laugh and an understanding "Yeah..." and then we talk about the things we love, what we want to be working on, something new we've discovered online or in the Bay. It's an inadvertent ice breaker because I've realized none of us know what we're doing. We're taking care of kids while caring for our own finances, relationships, and minds. Behind every halted answer to, "And what do you do?" is a field of commonalities that stretches and falls with the seasons of our lives.
I'm deep in a season, calling it whatever feels right at the moment. I really need that sweater. (AND Beverly Goldberg in my life, for real. I LOVE HER.)
All images by Lenka Clayton
Three years ago, I wrote about Lenka's Artist in Motherhood Residency on Design Mom. Lenka Clayton is a fine artist who had a tough time finding a residency that would accept her because of the constraints of having a child. So, she created one herself and called it Residency in Motherhood. She printed business cards, scheduled part-time child care, and established her own "studio space" where she dedicated herself to exploration and creation and journaled the process for the world to see. The result is beautiful. (Alain De Boton agrees.) When I found Lenka's project three years ago, it moved me. When she photographed objects she found in her child's mouth (63 Objects Taken From My Son's Mouth), I laughed. I got it. When she typed interrupted, stunted, exasperating events of the day (What do we do all day? jpg file name "nightmare"), I was right there with her. I was her, and she was telling the story I didn't know how to tell, but felt. She was the Artist of Motherhood, accidentally painting a dizzyingly poignant picture of my personal motherhood.
Three years and two more children later, I rediscovered Lenka's project. I don't recall what I was doing on the desktop computer—I'm so rarely sitting down in the office these days—but I happened upon her personal update. She's shown art in the Guggenheim (among so many places!), she's waiting for her second child to arrive, and she's created a Artist in Motherhood Residency kit so anyone in the world can create their own "formal" residency at home or at a studio, and even seek a grant. It moved me again, just like it did three years ago. But this time I did something about it. I pulled a sheet of paper out of my notebook and scribbled down the following mess:
And just like that, I am an Writer-Artist in Motherhood Resident. (Albeit a Bachelor-watching, stick-figure drawing, part-time one. Baby steps, right Lenka?) If you want to join me, sign up and put your name on the world map and let's keep in touch and follow each other to see each other's projects. I'll be sharing some of my thoughts here since I am calling myself a Writer-Artist, but most in my private physical journals. (I still keep those, but alas, no key.)
PS One of those links in the Design Mom post now takes you to a Tumblr featuring breast augmentation. LOL
As I sit here, all is still. Two of my three beautiful boys rest peacefully upstairs and the other two boys in the house are out. Today is Mother's Day and it's been a special one. Breakfast in bed, kids singing Mother's Day songs in church, a sunny walk by myself. All is well.
Hope you're all having a nice Mother's Day too—my thoughts are with those of you that struggle today. It can feel like a million feelings rushing past. Lots of love to you, whatever you're feeling. xo
On January 14 at 1:22 PM I had our littlest boy, Sigge (pronounced Siggy). He is absolutely perfect and we're doing great. After weeks of all five of us home together, we've all settled into a semi-routine with the new baby in tow and Keen back at work. It's been the smoothest recovery and transition yet and I think it's mostly due to Keenan's glorious paternity leave. I can't say enough good things about that time we had together before/after the baby arrived. It's been wonderful.
I'll continue to share thoughts on motherhood as they pop up (and I get a chance to sit down and write them). I'm so glad you've stuck around. I hope to write a lot more this year. I'm feeling it.
I'm currently working on Sigge's birth story as a submission into a book. I'm really excited about it! So if you want more details, I'll be sure to share that in the future. I love hearing others' birth stories and I hope you enjoy reading mine.
Recently a friend asked me what it feels like to be expecting our third child. (I'm now 25 weeks!) Lots of people have three or more kids (but fewer than most) and I don't feel like I'm uniquely capable of sharing what it's like because it's so different for everyone, but I do have a few thoughts now that some of the pregnancy fogginess has cleared in the second trimester.
1. It's awesome.
It's awesome just like it was the first time. I mean awesome in its purest sense; "causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear" Yep, conception, pregnancy, birth, and parenthood does all that. The first kick, the growing belly, all of that is just as amazing. What's been different is how fast it feels its going. It's flying by! I also haven't taken any pregnancy pictures of myself or journaled the pregnancy as much as the other boys. There's just more going on so I can't devote as much time to recording or "cute stuff" like I once did.
Haven't touched/probably won't touch a pregnancy or birth book. It's a beautiful thing to feel more confident and knowledge about how your body labors and what works for you when you deliver.
I do have the What to Expect app so I can show videos of the baby's development to my kids and track the baby's size. (I really wish there was a better pregnancy app out there.)
2. It's uncomfortable.
In every way, but not all the time. 62% of the time I do not think about being pregnant. I'm just doing my thing, as me, and honestly only remember that I am with child when somebody comments or I'm doing something otherwise normal and it's more difficult than it normally would be. (i.e. picking up a glass on the floor, buckling my sandals, carrying my two year old.) One of the strangest things about being pregnant is feeling like you haven't changed, but realizing that to everyone else, YOU'RE PREGNANT. It's the number one topic and commentary everywhere. It's mostly fine and fun and I don't care but sometimes I do feel like, Alright. I've had quite enough pregnancy talk.
It's also just more uncomfortable. Whereas I could fly under the radar (which I prefer) with Silas until about six months, I've been showing with this one since mid-first trimester. Pregnancy-related pain is just more, too. Back pain, leg aches, stiffness, bruised rib. It's all happening.
3. No one has tried to touch my belly.
I'm good with this. Maybe I have a little RBF this time around...?
4. Advice Magnet
Almost everyone offers advice. Old me used to care, new me laughs and only cares 2% of the time when it's hard to let that especially insensitive or stupid comment roll of your back. People mean the best and are just trying to relate. Sometimes they give legit good advice, so you never know. If I'm in the mood, I beg for advice and wisdom from friends who have 3+ kids. These people know things and I want in.
5. Nice Magnet
Almost everyone smiles, says congratulations, compliments my two boys, or says God Bless or Good luck or You've got your hands full or No girl? And frowns. (I'm very happy we'll have three boys, for the record. 200% okay with it)
6. It's easier asking for help.
Most people are overwhelmed at even the sight of two toddlers and a pregnant belly and are more than willing to do whatever to help you out. I get my groceries (Costco, Target, TJs, EVERYWHERE) carried out, UPS and FEDex guys carry packages in for me, etc. It saves my back and is a nice little way to bond with a store employee. :)
Our oldest is in preschool (Bless Preschool!) and we also participate in weekly park groups and a nature preschool. My friends are the best and we all like each other's kids so we help each other out during play dates, or a random afternoon. Mom friends and scheduled weekly activities for the win! I also love local Facebook groups and listservs for meeting people and hanging out.
7. You take care of yourself.
It's no one else's job to take care of your health (duh), but for some reason I've just let things roll before now. Now I say "no" as much as I need to, talk to my doctor often and never feel like I'm inconveniencing her to ask questions or email her, hold sleep as the holy grail and get a good fat chunk every night, buy giant pregnancy pillows, buy clothes that fit and flatter(questionable but trying!), read good books, and eat what sounds/feels good to me.
It's easy to forget that pregnancy is an ideal time for extra introspection, self-discovery, and self-nurturing. But for me at least, it's like I gain this sixth sense for what's important to me and what I want. There's more meaning in the every day things, and since my physical body is slowing me down a little, and my brain is sedated with hormones, I live in the small moments because I can't even with more than that.
8. You savor it.
It could be the last time I'm pregnant. For every stage and in-utero development, I think about that and want to freeze it in my memory. The first time my oldest felt the baby kick. The first time he jumped in response to the boys'. The way I look and feel.
9. You know your baby.
Let's see if I can even write this without crying. The second I held Silas, I knew he knew me. And I knew him. He was crying like a little pink piggie and turned his head to me, stopped crying, and stared. Then snuggled against my neck. It was the same with Sondre. The nurses placed him right on my neck and chest and we just snuggled and loved each other, finally. Oh man. We already knew one another—we just happened to be meeting for the first time face to face. Circumstance, you know. I feel the same way with this baby boy. I feel him with me all the time and feel like we're just getting to know each other until our actual sit-down date in January. When we get real close, real fast. I cannot wait to meet this little guy.
10. You know it's a miracle.
Although we have had three healthy pregnancies and babies, we have experienced loss and high risk during the last four years. Anything can happen at any time and every day I am so grateful that this growing baby and I have made it another day. I can't even wrap my mind around how incredible it is that a woman's body can grow a child. It's the most miraculous, beautiful gift and I am honored to be pregnant with this little boy. *cue lots of kicks in my ribs*
Sat down and wrote this in one spell while the baby was sleeping. Felt so good to write. Thanks for sticking around even when I write more posts in my head then I publish. xo
Last week, I made a salad that would make angels sing. No, really. And it didn't even have bacon in it. Local market arugala, organic spring mix, really good olive oil, salt, pepper, and half a lemon's juice tossed together. If I'm feeling crazy, I slice heirloom tomatoes on the side, and throw in chunks of nectarine. AMAZING. Oh my gosh. It is magic. When I eat this salad, I feel like a freaking queen. This fact could either be incredibly depressing, or you could be a person like me who's not very good about sitting down and eating your vegetables. Or food you love. In a quiet place. On your own plate, with nice utensils, an icy drink, with greedy chubby fingers no where to be seen. You could be a mother.
In the background of my mind I'm always chanting simplify, simplify, simplify but my legs and mouth are running. I'm torn between boundless energy and depleted self, trying to direct money and time and me towards the best possible people, places, things, preschool activities, playdates, family, brands, food, freelance, etc., etc. It's a lot. Raising kids is just a lot. But it's not just raising kids; it's doing everything else you have to do on top of raising kids. And I have it so easy so I'm embarrassed to say it's challenging. If there's one thing I'm learning, and I'm only a few years in, it's that it's worth every ounce of fight, assertive push, "no", and amount of money to (re)assert your Self as a mother. You owe it to yourself. You're a person, you're awesome, you're somebody amazing regardless of your baby(ies). You love stuff, you deserve to love the stuff you love, you thrive when you follow your heart and do the stuff you love, and nobody can tell you you're bad, thoughtless, negligent, or wrong for doing just that. It's your life, your motherhood. Yours.
I have a thing with salads—I love them, but I've never been able to make a good one. I'll make it but it's got a million things in it and I get a few bites in and I'm like, Ugh, I kind of just want a quesadilla. It's a texture thing. It's a tired thing. (Pretty tired to be too tired to chew celery?) But then I found my new signature salad, this arugala and mixed greens with a light lemon vinaigrette and I feel so good. I feel like I found the salad I'll be serving at dinner parties for the rest of my life. I'll never have to think about what kind of salad to make, because I'll know: the arugala and mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette. It's exactly what I like, I stand 200% behind my salad, and I feel really good about feeling disproportionately passionate about a stupid salad. I love my decision that much.
More and more I'm realizing it's so much more about weeding out the stuff you never wanted in your salad in the first place. If you feel you've retreated, side-stepped, or even disappeared behind more colorful happenings or bigger personalities or trying toddlers or a body you don't know or friends you once had or ideas that stretch, now is the time. It's your time. Step up now. Laugh to yourself when you sit down to the most beautiful, colorful, delicate salad when you feel full and good and You. You did it. You're doing it. You do you, mama.
Lemon Arugala Salad
Fistful Organic arugala
Fistful Organic spring mix
1/2 Organic lemon, squeezed
Drizzle Olive oil
Toss and enjoy.
I've been thinking about Brooklyn.
One evening, about 30 women gathered in the upstairs of the church building. It was an activity I'd helped plan. We were sitting on the floor on dozens of blankets, a spread of delicious food on a low table to the side (good food and church always go together, don't they, or at least they should), and strings of twinkle lights surrounding us. It was dark out but it felt incredibly warm, being together; missing the pieces of our puzzle that couldn't make the Saturday activity, but feeling a little more whole and a little less heavy just being together. There was something that ran much thicker in my Brooklyn Relief Society than I'd ever experienced in a prior congregation. There was a spoken and unspoken need for each other. Different women filled different holes. When one person left, that hole reverberated through the group. We weren't perfect but we all cared and were trying. We loved each other. "Charity never faileth" in its imperfect form.
We got it when somebody said their husband had been working a lot. Oh, we got that. Or when somebody lost their job, or found out they had to move because their apartment building had been bought by a new company and was tripling its rent. Or when somebody had mice, or lice, or the worst: bed bugs. (The worst!) Or when someone's family came to stay too long (and slept on their bed, or couch, because where else?), or lost their wallet on their subway, or had a mortifying experience on the subway, or with a stranger passing by. Or having a baby, or not having a baby. (Again.) Or finding a new favorite restaurant that has room for strollers to park, a beautiful grocery store with pretty good produce, comfortable sandals, a gem on Craigslist apartment listings, or a dream job and a nanny they trusted. There were all these little things tying us together. We loved and hated the city together and there was nothing more funpainful we'd ever wanted.
For the activity, we were sharing our favorite things. Each person brought one physical object and explained why they loved this thing, what it meant to them, etc. It was surprisingly sentimental and thoughtful. I mean, I knew people would be thoughtful but wow. Every person had brought something so funny, or beautiful, or amazing and it just kept getting better and better. Then a friend stood up and shared this:
She shared that in a moment of total craziness while trying to put her three kids to bed in one room (New York!), she had a moment of clarity. She grabbed her phone and started recording audio. She let it record through the kids' back and forth, through nursing her youngest, then through story time, then prayers, then the kids falling asleep together with her arms around them. She let it record the quiet, thinking of each of our children and the period of life they were in. Just relishing the moment and letting herself be.
Of course I cried. This was during the Wander/Days days—my husband co-founded a start-up and the pressure and time demands for those years were beyond anything we'd experienced prior, even with lots of late nights and weekend freelance work under our belts. I was pregnant with our second child and overwhelmed by what ifs and loneliness from anxiety and motherhood. In so many ways, I had thought I was built to be a mother. My disposition, the things I like, the things I hoped to do with my life, the way I was raised. It all made sense in my head that becoming a mother and raising my children day in and day out would be the fulfillment of my childhood dreams. I'd apply my education and work experience and just be on cloud nine all the time raising chubby blonde babies. (A dose of naive with your naive, anyone?) Anyway, that was not what was happening so I felt the weight of her words in a very real way. I wanted to let myself be. Enjoy my baby. Love my baby. Love myself. Do what was best for myself, but what was also best for my family. I felt pulled, bored, and sad with intervals of being totally fine. (As a person does.) But at that moment I just wanted to go home, curl up next to that warm sweet-smelling body of the little boy that really made me the happiest person in the world and relish the moment in peaceful bliss. Understand the miracle I got to create with the other person I love more than anything else in the world. Remember the trying times during pregnancy, how I waited every day to have another miscarriage or loss just like before, how scary placenta previa was and the three weeks of full bed rest, how that "bleed" and hospital stay threw everything into perspective: I'm having a baby and all I care about is getting that baby safely here. No matter what. Nothing else matters. I knew I could focus and love—I just needed let myself do it. The rest could work itself out. Love first, everything else after. Us. Us first. Then everything and everybody else after. It's love first and then everything else.
So. Ever since my friend talked about her voice memos on her phone, I've been recording my life in audio. Just here and there in the most random places and times. When I give the boys a bath, or when we're driving in the car at sunset. I'm always really specific when I label them because I've realized I'm a word person, so I've got to have the voices and the context. Reading Busytown + Toots and Afternoon Bath Time on a Rough Day are some of my top picks. (Those are the real titles.) But my favorite are the times I've recorded car naps. Yeah, like I've intentionally recorded my kids sleeping in the car when we're parked somewhere. There's just snoring, and the occasional sound of cars going by but it's incredibly relaxing to me. And it makes me laugh because they snore SO loud. Lil' pig babies that played so hard and are happy and healthy, sleeping in their car seats. I made those! I did it. I'm doing it! We're alive. The recordings ring nostalgic for just the two months that have gone by, which is just what I need when it's hard to grasp the passage of time: you stop and think and it's been like three years and you have two kids. It's freaky. Voice memos has been a little way for me to snag moments and freeze them.
So now I can flip through pictures AND audio after they're asleep at night. Year of My People in full force.
There isn't a moment that goes by that I don't wonder what I should be doing. Should I be working full-time? Should I share that post? Maybe the dishes instead of laundry? Can I write? Is another show too much? When's the last time we ate, Does anyone know what time it is?, Is it more than a cold? One commitment, or another. There are so many, but sometimes it feels like there's not enough. A dear friend once told me her mom would always say, You'll fill whatever time you have. Isn't that the truth? But when you attempt to trace the points of, I did this, or Oh, I finished that, it's hard to recall. Or is it hard to recall for just me? (I'm so tired.)
Something I didn't realize before I had kids is that you can't just teach your kids how to sleep. I mean, you can, in like a hundred different ways and those can really, really help but babies are still people (I forget that.) and sometimes they can't be put down like sleeping robots only to wake up after the sun is up twelve hours later. There's nightmares, wet diapers, thirst, strange noises. It all adds up to a wail from the other room, or pitter patter feet to the bathroom. (Or our room.)
I don't want to look back on now and think, I wish I had been there more. I'm here all the time but I don't want to have regrets. I think the only way to fulfill that wish it remind myself every day. You're here now. They're this little now. It doesn't have to be perfect, the hard stuff is temporary, it's already gotten easier. Look at his baby hands. Look at his brother's slappy feet and easy smile. Look at that backwards shirt, those rosy cheeks, smell them they smell like outside. It's going to go by so fast. I know it. Hold on.
Yesterday our oldest slipped out the back door and when he looked back to see if I saw him, I laughed. He smirked at me and said, "Mom, what's wrong with your eyes? I can't see your eyes when you waf." Later that day, when we put the baby down for bed, he jubilantly yelled, "Nite nite Sondre Star Sondre! Wuv you!" and Sondre solemnly waved, waved, waved back at his brother, sleepy and just as serious about their nighttime traditions as his brother. Si trotted his brother's warm bottle up the stairs because "it's too heavy for you, mama. Too heavy when you have to carry Sondre too." and pushed it over the top of the crib bars, into the bed, just where Sondre would find it.
There are few things that feel clear when my head is tired, but I feel so full. I feel so lucky. It turns out Year of My People is a team effort.
Last weekend, six of my girlfriends and I got together and stayed in a hotel overnight in a nearby suburb. We grabbed In n' Out on the way out of town, then met at the hotel. We celebrated our friend's birthday, hung out in the hot tub, and stayed up late talking and eating junk food. It was hilarious and giggly and so relaxing. It was the best night's sleep I've had for months and months (Black-out curtains! No kids!) and the first time I hadn't woke up to crying or screaming since our trip to New York City in September. It was the best idea ever. How have I not done this before?! Have you done a trip with friends? I'm thinking this should be a quarterly thing....
P.S. A couple of my friends have nursing babies that don't take bottles so they stayed late but left when they got a text that the baby was awake. We stayed in a hotel close enough that this was possible, but far enough away from Berkeley that it felt like a getaway. (And it was cheaper to get out into the suburbs.)
The boys are asleep and the house hums with the sounds of the dishwasher, Sarah Sample lullabies, and the train in the distance. Our house is always a little cold—single paned windows and what I guess to be zero installation in an old two story. I love this house. I want to do so much with it and at the same time I'm letting it settle. Figure out exactly what I want.
Si started preschool this week. A part-time set-up close to home with kind teachers, an indoor treehouse, and lots and lots of outdoor time. We picked him up in the sunny afternoon and I saw him before he saw me. He was talking with a little girl, perched on a bike much to small for him, his hair gelled and a peanut butter smear on his right cheek. He looked a little sun drunk, a look I know and love. (A signature Silas look when he's played outside long and hard, just the way I like it.) She was telling him something with persistence, he responded with confident staring and a few words I couldn't hear. Then, he glanced over and saw me, looked away, then looked again. It's like I could see him shifting worlds. His new 'school world' and his 'home world'.
All he's ever known is his home world. Keenan and I. And for the last year, Sondre. Friends have come and gone, apartments, playgrounds, cousins, even grandparents as we traveled and trekked the first three years of his life to pursue career opportunities. I'd like to think we helped him see a kind side of the bigger world—exploring New York City together since he was three days old. (Even the taxi ride to the hospital in active labor was exciting.) He's played on the carousel in Central Park, eaten chocolate ice cream under the The Brooklyn Bridge, chased pigeons in Strawberry Fields, learned to hold on just so on the subway. Not uncharacteristically, our move across the country hasn't been a big deal for him. He's adaptable, observant, and most of all, a really chill guy. But it all comes back to home.
Once, on an awful, awful mom day, where I yelled and cried and looked at the clock one million times, I saw Silas as a person. (A three-year-old person with no pants and chiclet teeth, but still, a person.) I realized that this is his whole world. This. Us. Our House. What we do at home. What he eats in the morning. His favorite show. His favorite grey lounge pants. Books. His blankets, his sippy cup, the toilet even. The way he likes to ring the doorbell and the bond he feels with our car. The things he learns at church, his friends, his observations that are never more than an armslength (it seems)—from me. From both of us. I was so ashamed. It's like I betrayed the sacred trust he and I had that it's about people first. Us. Us first. Then everything and everybody else after. It's love first and then everything else. I had forgotten that most important thing somewhere between hangry, bored distraction and mopey, self-inflicted creative unfulfillment.
Now they share a room. Just yesterday I pushed their beds to nearly touching. Brothers. They sleep better together. We sleep better having them together, down the hall. (I get teary even saying brothers, gah.)Maybe sibling love will help fill in the parental gaps?
For 2015, my goal is People first, everything else after. I love changes and I know 2015 will bring many. I feel grateful for that. That my life is full enough that there are peaks and dips and things happening all the time. I love living like that. Keeps you on your toes. 2015 will be the Year of My People (<in big banner letters>). Also, I'm going to eat more vegetables (specifically leafy greens), become a blog or magazine contributor again(on the hunt!), and publish something(in print I hope!). I'm excited.
I wonder if there is one woman out there who has never felt frustrated with her motherhood, in any way. If there is, I do not want to meet her.Read More
I couldn't wrap my head around a post today and I got lost in old iPhoto images. Snapped these a few weeks ago after I turned around and found this sweet boy sound asleep. *heaven* Some days may be frustrating but overall, overall: Look at these people I get to raise. I mean, come on. Lucky doesn't begin to cut it.
P.S. Have you seen this? I held a baby and inhaled. So good.