8 weeks | He sings in his sleep | no. 0001
This is a journey to find my most honest voice. I believe there is something potentially immensely healing for the whole planet if every mother identifies and articulates her raw, unfettered, and courageous words for humanity to hear. My son was born on a Wednesday. Every week I am writing something of our be(come)ing– big, small, simple, profound, anything– to acknowledge another layer of growth between us, of deepening knowledge, of new language, of shared and divergent truths, of tough and triumphant moments. These weekly posts are my contribution to the collective dialogue of this mothering. The more we speak, the more space we mothers make in the world, for everybody.
This is me writing the first post in the series. He is in some state of sleep, cradled in my left arm. I am one-handed typing on the right. The laptop is seated in the folding chair beside the bed that now serves as my desk. The notes for this post that I have been jotting down sit just out of reach in the notebook by my right foot. To move it closer to me, I risk waking him from what is already a delicate rest, as evidenced by the little jerky motions occasionally moving through his body. I choose instead to just write from the combined forces of memory and momentary genius, a mother’s most reliable tools. A mostly instrumental playlist by Damu the Fudgemunk fills the air with beats I am pleasantly unfamiliar with. I like having distance from the music when I’m writing.
Since Sunday I knew I wanted the inaugural post to be this poetic piece about how intense it is to look into his eyes. I had a beautiful metaphor lined up and was attempting to write a draft Monday night, but its fruition was interrupted by a fussy, sleepy baby. I stopped to give him my full attention, Maybe you want to nurse. Good, he fell asleep for a bit until he needed to burp. Okay baby, it’s okay, I got you, and other encouraging words as I get up from the writing to pat his back and walk around together. A burp. A smile that he just learned to do a week ago. Success! Let’s change you, then back to my writing, I thought. Clean diaper. New onesie. Wrapped swaddle. Resting on Mommy. Happy baby? But no, still the fussy baby wouldn’t let me write. Squirms, kicks, grunts. Big poop!
After changing him again, and then trying to settle him down, I laughed at what was really happening. Long ago I had said my children would be collaborators in my art, and here he was, inserting himself into the process as only he could do: expressing his needs in the here-and-now. My son, like all babies, is an expert at living the urgency of the present moment. I reflected on all the “interruptions” and saw something marvelous that I hadn’t acknowledged before: “He won’t sleep until he’s 100% satisfied in his body.” Fed, burped, bowels free, clean, dry, warm, secure.
In that moment of unaccomplished writing, I saw more deeply the intelligence of his choices to make his needs known at all times. He works so hard to feel good before he can truly rest. He works much harder than me, who, (surprise surprise) gets very poor rest. It made me think about how most of us adults routinely go to bed with all manners of discomforts. Pain in the body, anger in the heart, anxiety in the breath, coldness in the soul from all the loneliness we mask with colorful status updates. We dismiss all forms of constipation– physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise– and really try to trick ourselves into going to sleep. What would the world wake up to if we all had to make a genuine effort, like we used to do as infants, to feel good every night before bed?
I put the notebook away. Watched the muscles in his face flicker in and out of expressions. Peered into those eyes as they fought weighty eyelids. Wondered about all the ways he would teach me to be a better, happier person in this life. A warmth came over me as I too surrendered to sleep. I was imagining the dynamic energy I might cultivate if I really tried my best to feel as good as my 8-week old son does. The one who tugs half smiles onto his face and murmurs bits of song while he sleeps.
He is waking now. It’s time to change him. It’s way past time for Mommy to eat something. This is okay though. I feel good now. I trust that our process for Wednesday’s Bloom will just keep expanding naturally as we grow with each week. This whole be(come)ing is an experiment anyway. Until next week, happy blooming to all the mothers, our families, and the worlds we touch.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.