art, artist, artist life, creative parenting, fear, growth, life, lists, love, motherhood, parenting, people, postpartum, postpartum depression, random, relationship, separation, soulmate, stories, storytelling, things
1. This is not me just playing that game. I was not assigned this number. I chose 7 because it’s a sacred number between me and my son. I’m sharing because I love sharing things about myself anyway and this is a great writing prompt to end the week. And I’ve been appreciating learning interesting things about everyone else. It feels only right to contribute since I’ve been consuming.
2. I don’t know if or when I’ll resume a vegetarian lifestyle. When I was pregnant, I dreamt routinely of chicken. Whole rooms of chicken, tables stacked with platters of baked chicken. Chicken platters carried down Georgia Avenue just waiting to be eaten. Chicken legs and thighs filling up my purse. I listened to the message and ate plenty of chicken while growing my baby. I also craved turkey sandwiches, continued eating fish, and, on a few occasions, even had beef. I thought I’d slip back into my mostly legume and vegetarian proteins after he was born, but no. Chicken is still wonderfully satisfying and helping me make all this breastmilk.
3. I am excited to learn how to ride a bike, to swim, and to roller skate with my son. I feel he will teach me how not to be afraid of navigating spaces on wheels or in water. I have always preferred the definitiveness of my feet on the ground to the uncertainty of a balancing act on rounded objects. With the water, I think it’s a control thing, but I’m not sure. There’s something very uncomfortable to me about surrendering my body to a liquid mass so much greater than me. I am awed by the sea’s majesty and scared by its ability to just swallow me up as if I was never there. But I do think swimming and riding a bike are critical life skills. I look forward to setting an example for my son that you’re never too old to learn anything.
4. One day I decided I was tired of being complicit in my own heartbreak. Once again I was in this very sad state content to stare out of windows and run Nina Simone lyrics in my head, only today I was actually substitute teaching in a class of fifth graders who were trying my patience. After too many attempts to treat them like mature tweens, it was quiet reading time for everyone. No you can’t go to the library. Yes you can get out of my face. So anyway, I took this time to write out a detailed list explaining to the universe the specific qualities I wanted in a partner, the type of family dynamics I wanted to explore in this life, and my dreams as an artist. After several pages were filled front and back, I folded it, put it in my purse, and sent the students to recess. Four hours later I’m on my way home, when I change course and head to the bookstore instead. Excited that I’ve postponed the evening’s agenda of making more quinoa to go with my brooding, I almost don’t hear him call out to me. The father of my son was bringing his bike to a halt as I looked up to the sky in disbelief. Really though? That was fast. Oddly enough, I couldn’t remember his name. I had only met him on three brief occasions the year before. But, I did know, somewhere deep inside, that he was the one I had just spent an hour describing on that list. I kept all this synchronicity to myself though. In the cold, drizzly buzz of rush hour, we talked for twenty minutes about the usual topics when you meet your soulmate: proper bowel elimination. He said I was going about my fast all wrong and he could help me do it more effectively. We exchanged numbers so that he could give me the nutritional plan he was going to design for me. Wandering through the aisles at the bookstore and flipping through pages I was not reading, I considered how certifiably insane this was. I called my sistergirl and told her I had just met my new person anyway. The next week was warmer and we sat outside at a cafe to go over the plan. I traced the patterns on my bangles as our conversation meandered into where we grew up, where we’d gone to school, where we travelled. He was impressed I’d already been to Africa. Somehow we started talking about our goals as artists and the future. He basically said verbatim what I had written about family on my list. Here we go. The sun set on us as we walked through the city swapping stories about childhood and beginning a life together.
5. I have an uncanny ability to remember dates, numbers, birthdays, directions, street names, addresses, license plates. I often remember people’s birthdays who I’m not that close to. But I’ll remind someone else who knows them well, “Oh, you know it’s So-and-So’s birthday.” And I’ll think of So-and-So all day and not send them a personal birthday greeting. I catalogue all types of dates, regardless of their level of significance or whether it was something good or something sad. When I meet someone, I often ask when’s their birthday, not because I’m trying to figure out their sign, but because I’m cross-checking my memory bank for shared happenings for that day. Sometimes it’s just someone else’s birthday. Other times my records turn up that this new person’s birthday is randomly the same day I went to such-and-such country, or left a job, ended a relationship. Sometimes it’s the day I know someone else has died, but I usually don’t mention that correlation unless the person was famous or something.
6. I am pretty terrified of the day I’ll have to leave my son with someone else for a length of time. I’ve never been away from him for more than about 45 minutes, and even then, he was only walking distance from me. In a few months I’m going to be in a wedding and I am sorta-kinda freaking out about him staying with my mother (who is super awesome of course) for the weekend. I am all in my head worried about my breasts becoming engorged, or leaking through my bridesmaid’s dress, or being so distracted because I’m missing him and wondering if he’s crying for me that I don’t have fun being all dressed up and celebrating the new union. With my level anxiety, you’d think the wedding was next week. I know we have to start practicing these small steps of separation. Like maybe I should go to the store one day while he’s napping. But the thought of him waking up needing to nurse and I’m not there scares me. It’s still too soon for me. I know things are changing everyday, and he’ll be more independent in a few months. And I’ll be more relaxed about him being apart from me. But still. Just the thought of it all gives me chills.
7. I am writing and producing so much content on my blog right now as an experiment through postpartum depression. I am playing with storytelling styles, trying out different voices, archiving my creative materials, sifting through my identity evolutions, discussing the fun and not-so-fun parts of mothering all to keep my spirit in motion through what is an intensely, complex and layered life transition. Less than a week after his birth, I felt how closed and heavy the postpartum process could be for me. I saw that I had a choice in keeping this journey to myself, or opening up and bearing witness to this spiritual restoration work that so many mothers do in silence. For me, the writing gives me the opportunity to engage with the world while simultaneously being so very much inside, often at home alone with the baby in our little bubble. I also write because I know other mothers are reading my words, and feeling empowered to initiate important conversations about their emotional well-being with themselves, their partners, and their families. I am so fascinated and inspired by this postpartum season of the mothering. And I am in the early stages of creative projects exploring how humanity can act with greater awareness in honoring and supporting the whole mother during postpartum.
Sometimes I write about a mash-up of things about who I am be(come)ing. Check out these stories, essays, and art journeys in the I am who I am collection.