Category Archives: Mindful Parenting

The Climb

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da boys

I am home with the kids and revising all the time what that means to me.  I am not gonna lie; at first, I  had every intention of going back to teaching in September, when my youngest was six months old. After all, teaching and being a working person has  forever been part of my identity.  But… the economy had different plans and after several job applications and interviews took me nowhere, my partner and I revisited our family budget and realized that it more than works for me to stay home.

Budgeting aside, it’s been far from easy.  This baby was not a regular sleeper and there is still the older child to think about… its much different from just having the one kid…in many ways it would be easier to be work outside the home because at least I would get some mental space, some time with adults, even just an opportunity to complete a thought.  ( If this blog is any example, I’ve been drafting this and several other posts on and off for several months!)  But, as with everything, we’ve learned to adapt and adjust. With the support of my partner I take self-care and me-time very seriously. This support is not something I take for granted since I know and (and feel myself) how very strong the current of “status quo” is on mothers and women in general in terms of caretaking and valuing what we do.  As much as I understand and want to change gendered roles and the effects of patriarchy, that shit is so deeply woven even in the most “woke” of us that I often stumble.  So, no, I could not do this at all if my co-parent wasn’t the determined badass that he is.

With that said, once I get over the ever-present mom-guilt, I try to get writing time in at least one evening a week, go to excercise classes at the local YMCA a couple of times a week, and get together with other moms and in general, grown-ups as often as I can.  Winter time feels isolating enough as it is, but not getting out and about while taking care of young children felt extra isolating. Now that the baby turned one and with Spring around the corner, the care taking load feels much lighter and life, less overwhelming.  I encourage all moms new and seasoned to find their tribe.  We were never meant to go at this alone. That is why I decided to include this lovely comic by Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes.  This hit me right in the feels:  “To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy … but it’s still allowed.”  

So while my “life’s meaning” might have been defined in one way when I was a 22-year-old new teacher, I am allowed to revise what that means to me know that I am 32-year old mother and always in the future.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing…and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you are doing…

Yes, yes, and yes!  Oh my goodness does this ring true in a million ways!  I needed this reminder that self-care, self-love and just being in the moment is a revolutionary act. After all, these kids will grow up in a blink and the work world will still be there waiting for me…

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Thanks for the reminder;)

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On Inspiration: Making Space for Creative Thought Daily

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Writing daily is tricky while caring for children, a home, a partner and oh yeah myself!  But thinking creatively and finding inspiration doesn’t have to be…in fact, its deeply necessary and essential to an artistic mind.  blog picBelow are some quotes that I’ve kept in my “inspiration” list.  This is a living document, something that is constantly growing and changing over time.  I enjoy collecting  these tidbits, images, quotes, or thoughts for various reasons including simply reminding me that I am still immersed in the writing life, even when I don’t have a moment to write.  This helps jump-start my writing or just makes me remember the joy of creation, particularly on days when that’s furthest from my mind. Enjoy!

This is a classic one for me since discovering it in college:  “The first act of the conquered is to imitate their conqueror.” ~Ibn Khaldoun

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I’ve always been a fan of political poetry/spoken word and this one introduced me to this new writer as well:

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
~Warsan Shire

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You were raised to believe anything was possible, but in a threatening sort of way that meant seemingly inanimate objects could pose very real danger.  ~Edward Gorey

I accidentally discovered Gorey after buying a desk calendar… but what a nice discovery indeed.  One day I’ll visit the Gorey house!

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“You were born for these transitional times. You came to create. You are here to make a difference. You are a player in a grand experiment. You are a change agent. You are an emissary of our New Earth…”

Astrological thoughts to inspire deed as well as character creation for a fantasy novel…!

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Any observation or information about pre-1948 Palestine always gets me:

“There is little evidence of the people who lived here because their houses were razed to the ground after 1948 by the Israeli government, but blue Mesopotamian irises continue to grow on the grounds of the village cemetery. The custom was to bury the dead with three irises: one placed on the head, one on the stomach, and one by the feet. Today, the succulent buds poke through the earth of the cemetery of Sar’a, as nature continues to both witness and renew.”

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Darwish is the man:

And I have vowed
To fashion from my eyelashes a kerchief,
And upon it to embroider verses for your eyes,
And a name, when watered by a heart that dissolves in chanting,
Will make the sylvan arbours grow.
I shall write a phrase more precious than honey and kisses:
‘Palestinian she was and still is’.

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A remembrance of the sacred is key
 This is not a world that sustains our models of economic growth and consumer desires.
This is rather a world of wonder and magic, and a world that needs our attention

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Writing ideas/advice:

“In short stories there’s more permission to be elliptical. You can have image-logic, or it’s almost like a poem in that you can come to a lot of meanings within a short space.” – Karen Russell

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“A short story works to remind us that if we are not sometimes baffled and amazed and undone by the world around us, rendered speechless and stunned, perhaps we are not paying close enough attention”— George Saunders, in an interview with Ben Marcus on Granta, quoting Marcus’s introduction to New American Stories
(via poetsandwriters)

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And finally, from the writer Salman Rushdie’s new book Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

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“To be thin skinned, far-sighted, and loose tongued, he said, is to feel too sharply, see too clearly, speak too freely.  It is to be vulnerable to the world when the world believes itself invulnerable, to understand its mutability when it thinks itself immutable, to sense what’s coming before the others sense it, to know what the barbarian future is tearing down the gates of the present while others cling to the decadent, hollow past.  If our children are fortunate they will only inherit your ears, but regrettably, as they are undeniably mine, they will probably think too much too soon, and hear too much too early, including things that are not permitted to be thought or heard.” 

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Horizon

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Etymology of Hoizon is listed as: bound, limit, divide, separate and limit of view.

 

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I am trying to stay positive in the face of uncertainty,

stay clear headed and patient in the face of parenting responsibilities.

Creative in the face of harsh realities

 

And then there’s Meena.

There is no question that child was wrought out of pure love.

I am so grateful for him. For his presence.

 For his warm squishy body next to mine at night

for his big goofy giggles,

for his squels at Ali or cuddles with Chris.

 

Life is not this or that, not black or white.

 It’s energy, light, flow

and always, always movement.

 

I will long for a snapshot of this feeling, this love long after it might pass

Long after I get grey and achy

Long after he outgrows my lap and his chubby cheeks.

The bittersweet passage of time.

How hard I tug and pull to get to the next horizon only to look back and remember what I forgot.

 

How is it some of us can hold so much love, so much light, while others simply can not?

 

Water on Mars. Plastic in oceans.

Families huddled along borders, waiting.

Pushing and pulling against tides, against horizons

 

Can we evolve to something different? Something we have never experienced before?

How much can our container hold?  

 

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Lessons in Waiting : Meena’s Birth Story

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“… a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey…We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity.”

"Labor" Selfie!

“Labor” Selfie!

Labor:noun
1.  work, especially hard physical work.

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When I was still pregnant, I had a conversation with my best friend about past labor experiences, namely how our mental state affected the outcome.  Our hopes and fears all manipulated our sense of control. We reflected on all the ways our thoughts are interconnected with how our bodies functioned in labor… So having “been there, done that”, I thought I knew what I was getting into the second time around.

My water broke a week after my due date.  We went into the hospital around 2am on a snowy Sunday night.   I thought it was going to be really fast process since my 1st birth was about 6 hours from start to finish.  With this one, I was disappointed to find out that an hour after my water broke I was only around 2 centimeters.  Although I was contracting (not very strong contractions though), this led me to feel like I should have stayed home longer, (which was too late a this point since being Strep B positive, I needed to get hooked up to an IV for antibiotics.)

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Upon arrival, I was greeted by lovely nurses who were joking around and in a good moods.  It was confirmed that I had some meconium (baby poop) in my waters, but not enough to be concerned about.   Then I was checked by a young resident, who was nice but inexperienced.  He said something to me about offering me a “special medicine” in the morning if I hadn’t “progressed”.  Poor dude didn’t know who he was talking to and I am sure he was surprised when I said I am NOT interested in taking pitocin  (I know that names of your “special medicine”!) … Interventions have their time and place when needed, but I trusted my body to do its thing in its own time.

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Little did I know how much this trust in myself and in biology was going to be tested during this labor.

As the hours sped by and soon turned into a full day and night,  it was becoming clear that no amount of walking, squatting, or birth ball bouncing was enough to get active labor started!   My nerves were getting raw. My labor started so quickly last time it felt like I was being carried away by a strong stormy current- no amount of resistance could hold it back- with my last labor, as in my previous relationship to myself and others-life just happened and I simply reacted and went along for the ride. This labor was different. It wasn’t going to just do the work for me.  There needed to be more give from me, but I needed to figure that out…

I was disappointed that due to the meconium in my water I had to be continually monitored.  This was already a trigger from my first pregnancy (even though that was 6 years ago)- because I associated that belly monitor with giving medical staff the reason for starting unnecessary interventions.  Luckly, this hospital and my new Dr. didn’t come in and bother with me at all.  I was waiting for the ground to be pulled up from underneath me, but other than checking my vitals and putting in my IV I wasn’t being pressured about my progress. I was upset that I could barely walk around with the monitor without it somehow slipping off, making the heart rate unreadable…  I thought “If I couldn’t walk around then this baby was never coming out!”  My doula and nurses kept trying though, and eventually – after several hours- got the monitor to stay working long enough for me to walk and that helped get a few strong contractions going.

I know they say not to go into childbirth with any expectations, but I had already broken that rule.  I not only expected my labor to have started already (I mean, my water broke!)  I also passed that judgment on to my doula and husband, who I feared were some how disappointed things were taking so long.  I said no thanks to suggestions of nipple stimulation at first especially via a breast pump- because I assumed it was more trouble than it was worth- I was gonna start hard labor anyyyyyy minute right now, right?- but also because of some deeper fears that I didn’t realize I felt.  I finally said yes to the pump late that night cause we had to keep trying everything we could.  I assumed that I was on that “24 hours of breaking water” deadline before I’ld be forced some sort of intervention. After talking of the Doctor’s assistant, I was assured that there was no rush, they knew the baby was fine since it was constantly monitored and that I was guarded against infection due to the antibiotic IV drip.  It really was just up to me.

The pump was a surprising trigger that reminded me of the last time I used one- when I was worn out, depleted physically and emotionally, in pain, lacking support from my partner and others… All these years and this new life later, and I was still triggered? Clearly I had some internal work to do before this baby could come out… about 24 hours in, I decided I needed some rest.  We turned the lights low and I ended up sleeping for a couple of hours.

That must have been all I needed to get my mind right cause at about 3:30 am, I was stirred awake by some stronger than usual contractions.  At first I didn’t pay them any mind and tried to go back to sleep, but after a few I realized there was a pattern developing.  This was it!

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I was so thankful for every contraction, moving me closer to meeting this baby! I welcomed the pressure that was moving downward and I squatted with every contraction.  As they got stronger, I was reminded of the massive rush the last time.  This was different. The waves moved slower and I had more control. I imagined myself reaching for “that thin membrane between here and there”.  This child, I felt, was increasingly within reach, in that place between worlds.  I still feared all the waiting though. I was worried that this wasn’t really it.

In a moment of clarity I looked at the time, it was about 5am. Dawn. Fajr.

Growing up I was lucky enough to live with my extended family including my Teta (grandma).  She was widowed fairly young and as a result become more devout.  She wore the hyjab, studied the Quran and prayed five times a day, never missing her call to prayer, even that very early Fajr.  She was the one who was home when I came home from school each day.  Who made sure I ate and prayed and did my homework.  She retaught me how to read Arabic after we immigrated to the states- after my new language pushed the Arabic to the back of my mind.  Being a natural storyteller, she shared descriptions of Palestine so vividly that I felt like I’ld actually tasted the salty Yaffa air, smelled my ancestors orange groves after a rain, and felt the roar of the rockets as they flew over her house in ’48.  Teta is 85 now and is remembering her words less and less. Whatever gender this baby was going to be, we already decided they were going to have her name- Ismat-a turkish name from the time of the Ottoman occupation of Palestine meaning Protector.  

 I remember what Teta said to me about Fajr- about it being the most important of all the prayer times.  She said when you ring in the dawn with the Fajr prayer, you set the right path for your entire day because Allah will be with you through it all.  I always considered how simply witnessing a sunrise felt magical. Watching a new day unfold in quiet stillness held the promise of so many possibilities, it made sense to me that she would call Fajr the most important time for prayer.  As the pressure and tighting of my contractions increased, I remembered her words. I remembered the patience and power of a brightening sky.  I remembered the role of stillness and was reminded to let go of any fears.

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  For only the second time since I was admitted to the hospital, my progress was checked. “8 centimeters”.  I was so giddy! Finally!  This was happening! That’s when I also realized that oh 8 centimeters!  I am entering transition…!  Just then, a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to move to  room 4… aka: first class labor suite, aka; the shower!! Knowing what I knew about transtion being fast yet very intense I said lets go! As soon as we moved in there it was non-stop close together contractions that thankfully had the edge knocked out of them in the shower. It got to a point where even the water wasn’t much of a relief and I knew that it was time.  I alternated holding on to the bed, my doula and my partner during each rush.  I was getting so tired that I was literally falling asleep between contractions! Soon I was feeling the urge the push and again-thankfully was only directed by the medical staff to do what my body was telling me to do. This was hard at first since I never felt the urge to push with my first child and it took me some time to assimilate to the new sensation.  At this point my doula was my lifesaver- she guided and urged me to focus my energy downward instead of out- to use the rush of the contraction to move the baby down.  She helped me focus on my breathing, to direct it downward and use it to my advantage. Every woman should have a doula! Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have gotten through it without her!

At around 8am, my Dr. came in to check me after a few spontaneous pushes and said, “you are at 10 and the head is at 0”.

I asked, “What’s the number we’re going for again?”

“0!  Go ahead and push all you want.  What position do you want to be in?”

“Ummm?” Being asked mid-contraction was a bit challenging…

“You seem to be doing great right there squatting on the bed, go for it!”

…So, I did. I again focused my energy downward and pushed when I felt the urge.  As the head moved down, I paused to take in the new sensations.  It was uncomfortable but so much better than still being in transition! At least now it felt like all that hard work my body was doing was getting somewhere to pushing!  After about 20 minutes of pushing, I was asked to put my hand down to touch the head. I was terrified! Why would I want to do that? After more coaxing I finally put my hand down and was surprised how soft and spongy the baby’s head was.  With renewed energy and purpose I kept pushing. The baby plopped out all slippery! How funny and gross! And then he promptly sprayed baby poop on everyone! He cried all on his own,  got wiped up then was placed on me… where he then peed on me…lovely!

 

A big thank you to the good folks at Memorial Hospital, my doula Jessica, my friends and family that came through with gifts and goodies and my husband Christopher!

Introducing baby boy Meena Ismat Samih-Rotondo!

 A few hours old!

A few hours old!

 

 

the bros!

the bros!

The Final Days: 40 Week Update!

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40 Weeks!

So with Valentine’s Day now behind us the month of February is quickly drawing to a close.

so this came home in my son's vday treat bag from school...

sooooo… this came home in my son’s vday treat bag from school…?

In our house, that means we are approaching The-Flood-of-Birthdays… EVERYONE is born in March! And now that I am passing my due date of Feb 23rd, I am starting to think maybe this baby doesn’t want to feel left out…? Come on child!! Let do this!

40 weeks!

40 weeks!

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Pros:

– Having time for Nesting/ Cleaning/ Baking

-Trying out DIY recipes for lotions/ cleansers. ect…

such as:

homemade facewash: http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-natural-facial-cleanser/

homemade sleepytime lotion: http://thepaleomama.com/2014/07/whipped-sleepytime-rub/

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-Got to try acupuncture for the 1st time! (It was great and I am looking forward to doing it more in the future!)

– Being ALMOST THERE!!!

AND almost spring??!!

spring?

spring?

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Cons:

-Back aches by the end of the day…

-My. Belly. Is. So. Itchy… I am constantly slathering something on my skin.  The combination of winter dryness, showering with hot water ( cuz its been so cold!) and stretching skin has made my skin NOT happy…

– Being this pregnant during this cray-cray winter= freak out about ice/snow

he doesnt mind this snow...

he doesnt mind this snow…

– and WAAAAIIITING!

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What we’re doing:  (Besides Waaaaiting!)

-Installing carseats, visiting friends, collecting diapers…

– Figuring out our moby wrap ( with help from rainbow rasta-lion)

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-filing taxes ( ’tis the season!) and other modern world errands that will be harder to do with a newborn!

-surviving the RI winter ( fingers crossed its almost over!)

-Watching Dr. Who and Sherlock…

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Well, I for one am eager to exchange the discomforts of late pregnancy with that of early breastfeeding and newborn care! Hopefully by this time next week I will be drafting my first postpartum post!

Onward!

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I am not all impatience and disgruntled irritation.  I am embracing this moment for what it is.  A special place of in-between…

Inspiration:

“I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual… a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey…We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity.”

– Read more at: http://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between/#sthash.YgAtDYvV.dpuf

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My Pregnancy Timeline:

1st Trimester

1st Trimester

1st Trimester!

1st Trimester!

Entering 2nd Trimester

Entering 2nd Trimester

about 27 weeks

about 27 weeks

 

32 weeks and counting...

32 weeks and counting…

 

Holidays 2014- 3rd Trimester

Holidays 2014- 3rd Trimester

 

 37 weeks and dropping!

37 weeks and dropping!

 

40 weeks!

40 weeks!

Hey! Where Did Childhood go? My Kindergarten Freak Out…

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OH praise the heavens!!!  I am no longer freaking out about kindergarten options for my son. Partly because I am just numb with freaking out at this point, but also because we lucked out and got into a small ( just starting up) charter school close to work, that uses responsive classroom and will have curriculum written by folks from the RI Writing Project, a place I used to work at and love during my undergrad college years. But honestly, the best part of it for me is that 4 other kids that my son is already friends with are also going to attend.

old fashioned messy childhood...

old fashioned messy childhood…

Now, I know that being a teacher means that I might be super picky about schooling options for my children…  but I surprised myself  by what did and didn’t get included in the equation.

I didnt freak out :

-my kid generally attending a full school day, (he has been in full time childcare of a couple years now)

-Peers, making friends

-academic readiness ( kids get it when they get it…)

BUT, what  did freak out about was 2 things:

– No playtime ( 15 min of recess ALL day)

-Testing starting in November!

This hit me in my gut, this no play time thing, because what I assumed everyone knew was that children learn through play! Not to mention that everyone seems to be talking about the plague of childhood obesity, not enough time in the outdoors, too much screen time, ect… I just didn’t think our public schools would also be contributing to these national problems… I innocently assumed that attending elementary school today would be like when I attended elementary school in the early 1990s… oh silly me!

my dream treehouse…ahhh the '90's :)

my dream treehouse…ahhh the ’90’s 🙂

Even some of our much coveted alternative charter schools were only offering 15 min of recess ALL day.  Sheeesh! Most folks remember free play time as being the main tenant of their early school years.  All this led me to ask , ” Hey! Where didnt childhood go?”

Our neighborhood library if often packed with children and pre-teens gaming on computers, yet our parks, playgrounds, backyards and side streets are silent.  not that long ago, I remember the ways my friends and I basically ran the streets in the afternoon and evening hours.  we spent time climbing trees, exploring the woods around our homes, rode bikes, played basketball.. we spent so much time outside!

will playdough go out of business?

will playdough go out of business?

Although many of us had gaming systems at home, we prefered to roam outdoors.  Some parents raise the issue of safety especially in a city- but we had the same possible dangers of traffic, strangers and peer fights, back in the 1990’s but we still played outside.  These risks are always going to be there, but the opportunity to roam, freely and independently as a young person has a short window of time.

I feel like kids are more likely to get poison ivy than in serious trouble while playing outside, but fear seems to have grabbed a hold on the almighty parent imagination. It makes me very sad to think that the days of a “free range” childhood have come to an end.  I don’t want to raise my children in a world of fear and strict boundaries.  But, what does one do when your the only household that is okay with your child roaming freely, playing outside while other parents keep their kids in impossibly busy schedule or close to home?  All these would be easier to digest if it didnt also happen to coincide with restricted outside or free play time in schools.  I cringe to think of the long term  health and social effects on this generation in the years to come.

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Other writers exploring this issue:

Why is Narcissism Increasing Among Young Americans?       http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201401/why-is-narcissism-increasing-among-young-americans?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Freedom-to-Learn+%28Freedom+to+Learn%29

Decision to Make?  Ask your Body:  http://lauragraceweldon.com/2014/01/16/decision-to-make-ask-your-body/

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Decline in play: From   http://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html

Over the past several decades, we have witnessed a continuous and, overall, dramatic decline in children’s freedom and  opportunities to play with other children, undirected by adults.  In other essays I have linked this decline to the well-documented rise in depression and anxiety among children and adolescents (here) and to the recently documented decline in creativity(here). Free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their own lives, solve their own problems, and deal effectively with fear and anger—and thereby protect themselves from prolonged anxiety and depression.

                                       Play, by definition, is always voluntary, and that means that players are always free to quit.  If you can’t quit, it’s not play.  All normal children have a strong biological drive to play with other children.   In such play, every child knows that the others can quit at any time and will quit if they are not happy.  Therefore, to keep the fun going, each child is motivated to keep the other children happy.  To do that, children must listen to one another, read into what they are saying, and, in general, get into one another’s mind so as to know what the other wants and doesn’t want.  If a child fails at that and consistently bullies others or doesn’t take their views into account, the others will quit, leaving the offending child alone.  This is powerful punishment that leads the offender to try harder next time to see from others’ points of view.  Thus, in their social play, children continuously practice and build upon their abilities to empathize, negotiate, and cooperate.

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more on the cognitive benefits of play:     http://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html

What do you think?

 

 

On Motherhood

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 Pregnancy 

My son is about to turn 5! I wanted to use this milestone as an opportunity to reflect on what motherhood means to me. When I was pregnant with my son Ali -6 YEARS AGO, WHA?! Geez, times flies, I was already learning-  and unlearning– so much about myself; my rapidly changing body,  bladder? what bladder!  My life goals- maybe being a workaolic wasnt worth it?  And especcially the way I saw the world. But it wasn’t till the weeks after giving birth when I truly felt a dramatic shift.  My reflections below are my attempt to document and reflect on the various stages of my evolution as a mama ( or Dada, as my son calls me…)

 Fall 2008- with 5 months left to go!

Fall 2008- with 5 months left to go!

Pregnancy

 “Pregnancy is a numinous and magical state. It is a time when the barrier between the conscious and unconscious realm thins. It is a time to feel the presence of another soul developing alongside your own. It is a time when inner voices offer wise counsel louder and more clearly than usual, when we become aware that life is a continuum, when a woman may experience a bodily sense that everything around her is alive.http://www.mysticmamma.com/pregnancy-is-a-numinous-state

with 6 weeks to go...

with 6 weeks to go…

Birth 

“One of the most fundamental changes that will occur is that your gaze, your focus, will shift”.

I often bring up that had people met me before I became a mother, they might not have recognized me.  They might have thought I was a different person.  But this isn’t completly honest. It wasn’t simply motherhood, but everything after that unfolded parts of myself that needed to bloom but were only seedlings, (strong personal boundaries, self-love and self-care).  As well as expanding already existing parts of me (My creativity,  my ability to advocate for myself, my lack of patience for dishonesty, my loyality).

I understand my case is extreme because it wasn’t just birth, but the subsquent divorce, loss of a  best female friend, rearrangment of my community of support,  and strong focus on my writing life that furthered my mama-evolution.

ah the early days!

ah the early days!

After birthing my son a noticed a sudden shift in focus.  I distinctly remember the feeling that my vision had changed physically.  The world outside my window became suddenly clearer…colors and sounds were vividly, painfully sharp.  Sirens outside become defeningly loud, the smog from busy intersection traffic  felt chokingly dense… the air harder to breath.  Everything took on a sharper, denser, harsher quality.  I couldn’t shake the unmistable notion that the life I had built thus far and the world in general, was not good enough for my baby. Everything, the dust motes in the corners, the squeky door hinges, the slice of bread that toasted a little too dark- made me feel that I already failed as a mother.

I know many first time mothers feel this in some degree in the first few weeks and its natural, but at the time, it felt like I was touching on the tip of something that lay much deeper. Suddenly there was no room for gray area, it was either black or white, acceptable or not, for our new lives together. So imagine how I felt when I was the only one doing the cooking, cleaning, bath and bed timesor when my then husband told me he didn’t want to be with me any more after months of sleep deprivation, excuslive nursing, arguing nonsensically about silly things… I knew this life, this frazzled, emotionally charged energy did not belong in the same world with my baby.

the meatball days

the meatball days

Choices 

“As mothers we become the nurturers, the caretakers, and the ones that have the ability and responsibility to heal the past and create a new future for our children. Through our choices and our willingness to become more aware, we open to the possibility of healing and transmuting what has been with what can be.”

The past five years of motherhood has been an incredible journey of awakening and refocusing…the most important part of the above quote for me is  about “our choices”  No where else in my life before motherhood have my choices taken center stage.  The fact that my choices and willingness to revise old patteren opens the possibilities of healing deeply entrenched ancestrial wounds ( spanking, yelling, unhealthy parent-child or intimate partner dynamics ) and charting the course for a new way forward ( honest, gentle, healthy communication with others as well as my child)  has simultaniously been the most challenging and rewarding aspects of parenthood. It certainly was not easy transitioning to single parenthood or putting emotional hurts or ego aside for the sake of healthy co-parenting arrangements, but it was worth it.  It was worth it to keep an eye towards the big picture of ensuring that my child was surrounded by people who loved him and who respected each other.

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“[mothers] have the ability and responsibility to heal the past and create a new future.”

What a heavy statement, and yet very true to my experience.  This was at the very core of my decision to shift and redefine my relationships (though the world was already shifting them for me), I am fairly certain that I had been faced with the same relationship and friendship challenges pre-motherhood I could not have made the same healthy choices ( of forgiveness, restortative justice, and an openess to change myself)  that I made due to my son’s presence.

Ali and his best bud!

Ali and one of his best buds!

From Maiden to Mother

“As a Maiden your gaze is inward on your inner world, your thoughts, feelings and desires. As a Mother, your gaze shifts outward toward your child, as they become the center of your focus and attention. This is what truly marks it a Rite of Passage, for your experience of yourself will change. “

Yes, my experience of myself has changed, I no longer find it acceptable to judge myself shallowly, or from the eyes of others- I now try to make descions from my inner gut instict core of knowing that has been activated by mothering my son…. activated by the late night feedings, by caring for him through illness, (by that same unique inner alarm that signals that nap time has approached and now is the moment you should high tail it out the park before your kid flings sand in the other well rested kid’s eyes.)

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So, while the maiden me might have been concerned by gaining a few pounds in the winter, or whether or not my curls were frizzy, the mama-me has learned to let that go. Its a balance, that dosn’t mean that I am suddenly living in sweat pants (though for the first few months of motherhood, I totally was), on the contrary, it has shifted from feeling guilty that I wasn’t running enough and eating too much ice cream to a more gentle aknowedgment of what I have accomplished that day. This holds true for non-mothers as well. Whether folks around us recognize it or not you are enough.

In fact, we run this:      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmMU_iwe6U

Say it with me: I am enough.                   We are more than enough.

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Secure your oxygen mask before helping to secure others…

“During this transition be gentle with your self, and realize that as you grow into your new self, into your mammahood, you will find your inner strength and power emerging”

It wasnt long till I understood that taking care of myself made me a better caretaker. In fact, care taking is only made possible after caring for myself.  Like they say in those emergency training airplane films: fasten your oxygen mask before helping others.

I am brimming with gratitude at being chosen to perform the artful task of raising this child ( and possible future children).  I  know I still have so much to learn, and I look forward to the next stage of motherhood.

What? something taller than me?

What? something taller than me?

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Happy Birthday Letter to Ali

Dear Ali,

At this momentous occasion, ( your 5th birthday!!)   My wish for your future is something I’ve actively pursued myself;  not to merely survive as our ancestors did (though they did it with honor and courage), but to live! And live fully in each moment. I recognize that integral to my journey of mothering you is imagining, creating, and fighting for a world worthy of you.  A world that is worthy of your tenacity, spirit, courage, and love.

I recognize that shielding you from this world’s sometimes harsh realities  is not the path, but the rebuilding of it from the bottom up, is. I have a deep affirmation that you are already much better suited and naturally prepared for this new world than me. It is already clear to me and everyone you meet that you were born a fighter! I know that mothering you is intricately connected to mothering myself and making sure that all the relationships in my life are loving, healthy, and fun.   I also know that supporting and caring for you requires being fully present to you.  I recognize this presence needs to be shared and that I must create space for the others who love you (whether it be your dad, step-dad, numerous grandfolks or aunties,) to share it.

As we approach our 5th year together, I promise to teach you how to ride a bike, to garden and identify herbs,  to continue to fly kites with you at Colt State Park in the spring, to hike and climb rocks with you at Lincoln Woods, to read and create new stories for you, to bake, to keep your art supply stocked, to find the best future school, family, and home environment for you, to always be flexible, hopeful, courageous, and most of all joyful.

Love Always,

Your mama Dada

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