Bitter Sweet

I never wanted another baby. I didn’t desire to hold one. I didn’t get the ‘aww’s and the itch when I’d see someone else’s. I wouldn’t wistfully remember packing them into footies when I saw someone with toddlers preparing to leave a late-night party.

I would bless my lucky stars it wasn’t me.

The very thought of returning to that period rife with anxiety and stress, dark anger and overwhelming feelings made me a bitter, sarcastic person. I was most certainly the old crone in the corner who said, better you than me.

raindrops

Jennifer Butler Basile

In fact, just this last summer, a friend and I attended an outdoor concert on the grounds of a winery. As we toasted each other in the camp chairs we’d squeezed into the back end of the event tent to avoid the rain, I thought how lovely it was to get away. We ate our cheese and crackers, we laughed, we reveled in our unfettered evening. As the clouds broke just before sunset, some people ventured onto the surrounding lawn and set up blankets. A stylish young mother in a flowing skirt with dark hair to match, swaddled her baby and rocked to the music. Though we hadn’t said a word to each other, both my friend and I watched the scene; for as soon as I opened my mouth, she knew exactly of whom I spoke.

“Good for her,” I said, in a tone that unmistakably meant – better her than me; taking an infant to an outdoor evening concert, contending with rain; controlling wine intake if he needs to breastfeed; leaving early if he gets cranky.

My friend laughed and, in effect, toasted that sentiment.

The very sight of a mother and child, lovely as it was, brought my back up in disdain, for fear of the anxiety that wasn’t far behind. I was here to escape; I wanted no such reminder of that part of my life I was trying to escape.

And yet, though feelings like this were very authentic, they didn’t sit well with me.

I loved my girls. I welcomed them willingly into my life. I may not have liked or gracefully handled every aspect of my days with them, but I was dedicated to the role and importance of family in the world.

And so, to scorn other people doing the same thing – it did not compute. I knew exactly how hard it was and should have been supportive rather than snarky. And I suppose I wasn’t overtly snarky, but my attitude toward life had changed. I think the snark helped me build a shell around my wounded psyche. I’d returned to real life, but I hadn’t healed. I needed some fail safe so my wounds didn’t weep everywhere while I went about my business.

In September, I got pregnant.

I had referred to number three as a surprise; what a poor example that was compared to this! Six years out from our youngest. All three kids: potty-trained and self-feeding; able to run around without a bodyguard; play dates with friends and some quiet time for us adults.

What!?

I felt really silly when I thought back to that scene at the concert. I’d served myself up a huge slice of humble pie. How could I have made such a remark and then go and do it to myself? But there was no way I could’ve held my tongue in preparation for what was to come. I never imagined it would be so.

In the days following the birth of our third, I slept fitfully while the baby dozed nearby. I awoke at one point in a cold sweat, having dreamt I was in labor, contracting forcefully. When I realized it was a dream, I thanked God it was over and prayed I’d never have to do it again. It was almost a PTSD reaction. (side note: my postpartum depression was swiftly developing and I’d had a traumatic recovery from labor)

Yet, here we were. Preparing to do it all over again. With a strange sense of calm. I’d had a spiritual epiphany of sorts at the start of my pregnancy that set me off on a good foot. But I also had already faced nearly everything of which I was afraid. I’d seen how shitty it could be – and how I’d survived.

Obviously not unscathed, given my snarky attitude, but I think that’s precisely why I find myself in this lovely predicament. This baby is a chance to wipe away all my negative associations with expecting and bringing a child into this world. Does that mean I’ll push out roses and sunshine? Hell, no. It’s going to be a hard road, but I feel this experience will also rebirth my wonder in life. My ability to see love and light in little faces and the tired faces of mothers. To once again give a shit, to stand and support myself and other mothers around me. To say, not only will you survive, but you will enter a place of peace – at some point.

light

Jennifer Butler Basile

To It and Through It

Many straws.

There were oh so many straws that bowed my back the last few weeks.

I could list them. My mind right now is tempted to spool back through the memories, the agitations. But the feeling associated with them is gone.

It took one major freak out, an unepected text message leading me to a chapel, and suddenly, there was peace.

I had been so busy fighting. Without really knowing against what. Working so hard to: Control? Perfect? Protect? All it did was make me miserable.

I lamented how tired I was, of fighting, of doing battle every day. And suddenly this space inside me opened up.

I didn’t have to.

I could trust in God. I could trust that He had everything under control. I could let Him handle everything, worry about everything.

I just had to turn to Him for peace, for strength.

And then the craziest thing happened.

While a cascade of little things finally helped me open the door, God answered with one huge thing. A life altering contract of trust.

He may be serious as a sunburn, but I can’t help but see a little of George Burns’ portrayal in God’s divine providence. He certainly has a sense of humor. He is a master of irony.

But while He asks a great amount, He will always be right there to see me through it.

image from diaryofamormongirl

image from diaryofamormongirl

Timing is Everything

There is that anticipatory moment,
when the kettle sings and I rush to snap the stove top knob shut,
the satisfying gurgle of the hot water overtaking the tea bag

pixshark

pixshark


tumbling
down
around
then up
plump and pregnant
releasing its aromatic gifts

The two to three minute steep time seems an eternity
and yet not as long as waiting for the first sip
that won’t scald the tongue

Too soon and there is an acrid taste on the tip of my tongue for the rest of the day
Too long and the water is lukewarm, a let down after such hot expectations

There is a small window,
an optimum sipping time
Bright hot, but not burning
Satisfyingly warm, but not wimpy

My impatience often gets the better of me
and after a few near misses of steamed nostrils and blistered lips,
I move on to something else,
my mug mellowing on the coffee table.

When I remember and/or return,
I am able to gulp several swallows at once.
Not at all the way tea is meant to be drunk.

The taking in of tea is meant to be an experience.
As important as its ingestion is the warming of the hands around the mug,
the waiting, the inhaling,
the sensory experience.
Not the amount of things to be ticked off the to-do list while I’m waiting.

Timing is everything –
but sometimes it’s also about letting it stop.

Peace, Hope, and Whitney Houston

Marlyn Suarez Exconde is pretty amazing.  She’s introducing me to blogging awards I didn’t even know existed!  She graciously nominated me for The Cracking Chrispmouse Bloggywog Award, which honors blogs that “spread one or more of joy, peace, hope and love”.  Sounds good to me!  Truly keeping the spirit of Christmas all throughout the year.

And in the childlike wonder and fresh-faced attitude that sometimes accompanies Christmas and always the youth, I’d like to give a shout-out to Dana of Spilled Ink.  Dana nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  She’s a sixteen year-old maintaining a blog with some pretty sweet poetry on it.  Did I mention she’s sixteen?  I can’t even imagine maintaining a blog at the age of sixteen.  But then again, I’m not even sure there was such a thing when I was sixteen.  I certainly didn’t know how to navigate it if there was.  I’m slowly getting old and out of touch, it seems.  Which is where Whitney Houston comes in.  No, I’m not speaking ill of the dead.  I believe the children are our future.  Dana doesn’t quite fit the definition of ‘child’, but if young people like her keep creating and sharing, they will change the face of the world.

Blog on, bloggywoggers, blog on.

Rapid Acceleration

The Music Express.

My favorite ride at Rocky Point, a sprawling amusement park in my hometown that got its start in the nineteenth century as a seaside retreat for the overworked and overheated city folk.

Colorful piano keys rippling over the metal supports that tethered the cars to the central motor like spokes on a wheel.  The cars themselves with shimmering metallic paint jobs.  The track, an undulating up and down dropping and rising like the craziest country road.

As the music started and the cars wound up, you had no choice but to hold on tight.  No matter how hard you gripped the cool metal bar on the far end of the car, however, you would inevitably slide down to the outer corner of the car, crushing whichever friend got that lucky seat.  You’d laugh and try to scootch yourself up in between the dips and rolls, but then give up to the inevitable and sing along at the top of your lungs with the music blaring through the loudspeakers.

lg.sf5

Giving yourself over to the centrifugal force was easy.  It was stronger than you.  It was outside of you, pushing you out and down.  It strained every muscle in your skinny little arms to grasp that metal bar and float a few inches off the seat.

But what about those first few minutes when the ride hadn’t reached full speed, or the last few as it wound down?  Were you in control then?  Was it as enjoyable to hear the music on that part of the ride?  Or was it a letdown because it wasn’t full throttle?

I think when life moves as fast as The Music Express it’s easy for everything to crush together, all aspects of life compressed, no one able to be picked out individually and examined.  Sure, there’s good music, but everything’s moving at such a frenetic pace, it sometimes becomes just background noise.  And your friends are there, but you’re all just mashed up next to each other, trying to survive the same thing in close proximity.

I need to get off the ride from time to time.  Even though it’s my favorite.  Even though I love the song.

I need quiet.  Time to sit.  Stare.  Think.  And then to stop thinking so that my subconscious, the universe, God can speak to me.

Now if only I could get the attention of that guy flicking the switches.  Oh wait, that’s me.

 

Have To

Do you have to go away to realize where home is?
Do you have to go where it’s loud to discover quiet?
Do you have to ask questions to realize there are no answers?

Do you have to mentally and verbally vomit to free your mind and start fresh,                                                  to get any sort of meaning,                                                                                                                                      clarity,                                                                                                                                                                               peace?

Do you have to hear the tiny squeak of baby birds or the squall of a newborn to remember that life is fragile and once was new and precious?

You don’t have to do anything.

There’s that thing described so simply as free will, but which so complexly screws up life.

But if you want to –

If you realize you need to –

Life is infinitely better.

Think about it

We look outside ourselves for distraction, rather than inside for peace.

We look to diversion rather than rest.

We fill our minds to avoid distinct thoughts rather than focusing on one that truly matters.

What would happen if we slowed down . . .

to meditate

to pray

to sleep

to stare

to breathe

to think in slow, meandering paths

to sit

We’d be happier

calmer

friendlier

more patient

more peaceful

better people, more attuned to our purpose here in life

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