An anchor for my soul

I had something else in my mind to write about tonight. Something other than what you will instead find in the space below. When I’m in the shower or driving and inspiration for a post strikes I jot it down. But having more ideas than time means that the list is getting longer. This frustrates me because I have the supreme adversity of being a postpartum, type B perfectionist. All that means is that every time I actually get the drive and inspiration to write, something (like a nursing baby) takes higher priority the second I sit down. But when circumstances for writing are perfect the free spirit in me rises up and shakes her chains and says “nope, you’re not writing tonight.” And then because I’m a perfectionist I chide myself for being a “bad blogger”. Such is life.   So I walked out into my backyard tonight to water the garden before settling in to write about a, b, or c topic on my aforementioned list but immediately I knew my fingers and toes and chest and belly were rising up with a story of their own. Because the moment my feet hit the grass on my walk to the garden the wind picked up and my whole body reacted to its meaning: change.

Fall is blowing in. A new season. Already, my mind asks? My baby was born in the winter, on the cusp of spring, but still two seasons ago. I wholeheartedly welcome the fall time in the Pacific Northwest. Autumn is my soul sister. But already? My son will be 6 months old this week. Half of a rotation. Half of a year. He sits up unassisted and babbles constantly, rolls across the floor or bed to what he wants. And in the same way that he was born, he greets the world face up, always joyfully grasping at life. And while I welcome days of more sleep and more independence I also crave the feeling of wrinkled newborn feet beneath my fingers. Every emotion that I didn’t yet have words for overwhelmed me in the face of this evening’s wonderfully cool breeze. I looked at my garden and took in its growth and ripeness, so close to harvest. Behind me the maple was tossing its first leaves to the ground. The first year postpartum is so much like the changing seasons. Somehow each day that lasts an eternity is over when we blink our eyes. We simultaneously love and hate the feedings and bathing and changings and forget to look up until the breeze hits our skin and suddenly we’re staring at the stars.

One of most overwhelming parts about the first year after our child’s birth is the sheer constancy of change. Just when we think we have a handle on something the rug is pulled out from beneath us. It’s really hard to feel like you’ve figured something out with your baby only to have a new milestone disrupt it two days later. Did you hear me? I said it’s HARD. It’s frustrating and exhausting and can leave you feeling really, truly powerless. Mamas, I am giving you permission to admit that all of this change is rough stuff. And I’m also going to let you in on another well-kept secret…it doesn’t exactly stop as they get older. There is always going to be change. Longer legs don’t just mean new clothes and a bigger bed. Longer legs can carry small bodies up and down stairs. Longer legs mean growing pains, and new words, and then school. Friendships and hurt feelings.  Eye exams and allergies. Every season will bring nuances to our kids that we love and some that we don’t really understand or care for.  But this first year is by far the most intense. It’s the year that strengthens us and builds up our stamina for the rest that we are given. It’s also the year that we fall unabashedly in love with our children. So much in love that on days when we are pulling our hair out because yesterday’s “get the baby to nap” trick fails we swallow our tears and keep at it. Love that shows us a bit more of what our Father’s love for us feels like.

Tonight as I swallowed the tightness in my chest God told me to press in to my fear and exhaustion. He gave me permission to feel it and explore its roots. But once I was done, I knew I was supposed to surrender. To bring my broken mothering and my broken offering to His feet where I could be embraced just as I embrace my son and daughter. With a ferocity of unconditional love. I have a ballast in Him. An anchor for my soul, and security that unlike everything else around me cannot be moved. Press in, dear ones. There is strength and peace to be found in every season. Even in the very hardest ones.

 

Wanderlust

Tonight the walls are too confining. My skin itches to feel the balm of a summer night and not the pinpricks of an air conditioned chill. My legs want to stretch out under the dashboard of my car, right foot meeting accelerator, and drive under the moon. Wanderlust seems to creep in right in those seasons when it is the most impossible- escape the most improbable. But I acknowledge it anyway, ticking off in my mind all of the places I want to see.

And to ease the restlessness, I will tell myself that it’s ok to dream. It’s right to experience longing for escape when motherhood can leave us feeling so trapped. So tapped out. And I will grab a travel narrative off of the shelf, open the windows, and pray that until my mind lets go and surrenders to sleep that my babies will dream their dreams. Because I need to dream mine too.

Freedom in Becoming

There is magic in becoming. I will never forget driving home from the hospital with my daughter. Cars have “new car smell” and babies…ahhh babies….have that incredible newborn smell that peaks in its headiness right at the tippy top of their little heads. I swear I could smell her newborn smell from the front seat and suddenly it hit me like soccer ball to the stomach. I was a MOM. A mother. A living, breathing, person’s mother. I knew in that moment in the way that all life-changing things are known, that more than just my sleep schedule and Saturday afternoons were different. I was different.

There are tangible ways that we change after giving birth. If you have experienced postpartum depression or anxiety then you may have experienced the birth of an anxious you, or a sad you, or a constantly worried you, where there may not have been before. Or maybe your postpartum experience has been pretty normal but you discovered that becoming a mother made you more or less organized, more poetic, less carefree, more adept at thriving in chaos, etc. One of my girlfriends discovered that having babies gave her a life perspective that intensely mellowed her out. She experienced life to be much more enjoyable, fun, and free after her son was born. However you have or will experience a metamorphosis postpartum is good and to be embraced! It’s all a part of becoming the mother you are meant to be.

I also think that there is a significant spiritual shift that happens within a mother at the birth of each child. And I think the reason for that change is held within the person of her baby. I don’t think we can carry and birth a child without being touched by his or her soul. It’s not a quantifiable kind of change where you can look at your child and say “you’re quiet and inquisitive by nature and birthing you has made me so”. While that may have been your experience, what I’m talking about goes beyond that. (By the way, this is absolutely true for adoptive mothers as well!)  What I can only put the tip of my pinky finger on because the presence of it is so elusive is that the very core of our being shifts in a primal, visceral way that marks us, scars us in a way that only those closest to us can see. We become something that can only be described as “Mother”.  And even though it would seem as though that’s not really saying anything, it actually says everything. It’s the rage that bubbles up when someone threatens your baby. It’s the way that you know how your son needs to be touched in order to fall asleep, or the song to sing when your daughter is about to lose her cool. It’s the magic you hold in your scent and in the rise and fall of your chest that is enough to send your newborn babe into sweet dreams. When you become Mother you become a new you. A true and pure you. Nuanced with each birth and with each child that you welcome in as yours.

On the really hard days, this is what I go back to. When I question who I really am and what I’m doing, if I’m doing it right or if my mothering needs to take an entire 180…I return to my becoming. And I embrace the freedom that comes with knowing those two souls were chosen as mine to raise. When they became mine, I became theirs.  Nothing undoes that bond. Nothing can make me not their mother. I’m writing that thought on my heart tonight while I sleep next to a teething baby boy in the midst of a growth spurt.

Take heart, dear ones.  ~ Heather