9 weeks | The breath we take | no. 0002
I am searching for the language to paint these feelings into text. There is vulnerability. There is courage. There is exhaustion from the incessant pull on my heart to keep opening and discovering. This is me moving through the tedious and wondrous tasks of our newborn days.
Many things are simultaneously nothing and everything, simple and complex, mine and ours. My thoughts wrap themselves around each breath. The future flickering before me as I try my best to cling to the present moment, while lamenting still that he has outgrown yet another minute. I push through the nagging sensation that I can’t keep up with the momentum of his bloom. This mothering reveals itself for what it truly is: a genuine and futile attempt to swaddle time. These are some of our moments.
When his diaper is done. I wait for the water to get warm enough, pump a little foamy baby soap into the dish, glance at my face in the mirror. Still full. One day he will clean his own bottom. I squeeze the water out of the two cloths I will use to wash him. The first for the mess, the second for the crevices. I gather the rest of my supplies: changing pad, drying cloth, clean diaper, diaper cream, music turned on. I wonder if I am doing too much. It seems like such a production to do all this, but it’s so that he can remain warm and without tears. He is making his sounds. The music is singing him a song. He stares at the ceiling content to be alone in these few seconds. He is not missing me every time I have to step away now. I talk him through the process; there are so many steps to this one thing. I snap him back into his clothes, rinse the dirty cloths, put away all the changing tools. We will repeat the whole sequence many times before the next sunrise. I reflect on the nature of a our diaper practice and how much energy I pour into this. How this one thing is critical to his overall wellness. That while I am everyday trying to get better at this process, he is busy maturing past the need for me to do it. That my motherself is designed for such things. To respond to every new and essential need, whether or not I feel ready to accept that my child is moving on.
As his belly lifts and falls. I am always watching or feeling for his breath. The inhale-exhale rhythm in his body is slightly faster than mine. I imagine because his lungs are smaller, and a deep breath for him takes less time. When he’s laying on me, I experiment with our breathing. I wonder if he stretches his in-breath when I lengthen mine. If when he feels me expanding underneath him, he too is inspired to expand. When he lived inside of me, this union was automatic. My breath was his breath. Now, I am acutely aware that the vigorous labor of his respiratory system is all his own. That the breath we take in our separate bodies is merely a precursor to all of the inevitable separations to come. Even through the continuous change, we are anchored here on this arc of transition. Inhale, exhale, repeat. The totality of what can come and go in this moment, ever present in a mother’s resilient hands.
This is my school now. I am deeply saturated in learning, studying, practicing, stumbling, trying, experimenting, wondering, be(come)ing. A simple wonder can be beautifully complex if I allow it. Another layer of the conversation of what this mothering journey feels like to me is sparking even now. Until next week, happy, blessed blooms to everyone engaged in the mothering.
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.