14 weeks | Constipation, among other things (or, ‘This story is ours’) | no. 0007
It takes me a long time to find the words for this week’s post. To recover that which has been buried. Or more accurately, that which I buried. Here I am inside the morning hours where I’m supposed to be writing this episode, but I am unmoved. I focus my attention on other criticalities, like how to get him to unclench the air in the palm of his hand and wrap his fingers around the bright green handle of the new rattle instead. While playing, it occurs to me that it’s midday and the munchkin has not yet had his big poop. Sometimes things get stuck. He mirrors my process so effortlessly.
I usually start the sifting of what I might want to write about for Wednesday’s Bloom a few days earlier. There are ample things to share: beauty, humor, depth, epiphany. Honesty, to a point. Nothing catches. I wonder why, but not too hard. The story must come to me with its own momentum. It feels right to not force it so now I am waiting for my piece and his poop. Since he’s constipated, today’s first nap is not happening. I abandon the whole independent sleeping practice. At least you’re not fussy and I can write.
He’s happy to be awake for the wandering we must do. I bounce him around from window to window. The view doesn’t change. Still, we babble in our conjoined language about things of varying importance. I feel a tickle of lines coming to me, some thoughts that have been echoing ever since a dear friend of mine visited us. This question knocks on doors I don’t know if I am ready to open: Am I still holding transparent space in writing about my mothering?
I remember the original intention behind producing the weekly column, Wednesday’s Bloom. This is supposed to be where I speak candidly about the intimacy of be(come)ing mother to my son, and where I paint pictures of moments in our day-to-day life with my words. And I do this each time. But the level of intensity changes from post to post, or rather, the courage it takes to tell each story rises and falls as a measure of my willingness to grow, to be stretched, to face what is uncomfortable.
He stares up into my eyes, the breast secured between his hands, his jaw fast at work. In the near silence I can almost hear what it is I must finally say. After reflecting on the conversation I had with my friend about the intricacies of my process as a mother so far, I have to acknowledge that some weeks I stay at the shallow end of it all. For fear, for self-preservation, for denial, for nothing, for everything, I do and I do not know. But in those times when I am editing my authenticity, I share the version of truth that feels most safe. Those parts that carry the lowest risk of scrutiny on things I am not ready to surrender to the story. But the calculated effort to hold back in this way bears its own weight, its own consequences. A slow choking of what is to be my evolution. When I embrace what’s really at stake, I see clearly the narrative of myself I want to nurture. Freedom is a choice these days.
Our second attempt at naptime is still a flop as munchkin’s bowels have not set him free to rest. His father hums made-up tunes into his belly, hoping the vibrations will encourage movement inside. A few minutes later, a loud poop fills the diaper. Yaaay! Munchkin is happy and suddenly very sleepy. I think it is no coincidence that his relief appears at the same time I decide to stop clipping my own tongue. I make a promise that from now on Wednesday’s Bloom will always be composed of the words that tell the most authentic, transparent, and vulnerable story I can share about this moment in my mothering. It is through this rigorous work of knowing myself and sharing what I discover that I am of most service to the world, especially to communities of mothers, of artists, of women.
So my commitment to this work is renewed today. Here I sit before humanity, one-hand typing with a nursing munchkin stuffed into my lap. He repeatedly breaks the latch and then claws to get back on again. This is fair. It is now nighttime and he has conceded much of his mommy’s attention to the deliberate task of weaving some rendering of her heart into writing. These things take time.
The thing I spent hours talking about with my friend, who was such a gentle and gracious listener, was my birth story. Deep into the telling, I realized that it had been a while since I had told it. And because my birth did not shape itself into the way I had wanted it to be. And this unexpected unfolding initiated shadows and silences in places not conducive to my work as a doula. And because doing this work of supporting others through their birth journeys requires that I create a sense of wholeness in my own. There is always space for the truth. I knew I needed to make room for my story to breathe. To give myself permission to work through the tangled and complex blessing that is our birth as mother and child. And it’s happening in between the lines of all I am saying. Growth is so gradual.
There are two hours left to this Wednesday and he snores while sleeping on me. I cover him with a soft blanket of little lions and thank him for choosing me as his mother. I try to remove the bib without waking him. I am not so successful but he goes back to sleep after a few minutes at the breast. This is the end of our day, but I am just at the beginning of our story. It has taken everything to write only this much. I feel as if I am in labor again. Ride the breath. I feel like something good and beautiful will come from this movement, this experiment in courage.
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.