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22 weeks | Omissions | no. 0015
I’ve known days better than this one. And still I write.
In every story, there are things we omit. Pieces of the telling that don’t make it in. And these gaps have as much to do with the story as the parts revealed. I call this active omission an “untelling.” Today’s post is shared in that awareness. There are things I’m not ready to say, but because it’s Wednesday, I am challenging myself to say something about my mothering, to speak anyway.
I am feeling very sad right now. I am mixed parts angry, heartbroken, at a loss for words. The munchkin is ever cheerful though, and he keeps disrupting what would be a rather successful melancholy with his smiles, laughter, and squeals. Even more, he inspires me to sing songs in made-up languages, narrate the next chapter in the ongoing adventures of Choochu Bear (my nickname for him), and deliver long and loud kisses on his fat cheeks. It is hard to hold vigil over what troubles me when I have to be so present with him.
I took this self-assessment about “Leadership Presence“, and it turns out I’m lacking in some areas. Mainly presence, itself. Recently, this is most apparent when I’m breastfeeding and the munchkin must compete with my phone or computer to make eye contact with me. I feel like I’m missing out on some important conversation with him in those moments, and yet, it is with the aid of a good latch that I can finally stimulate a complete thought and finish a sentence, or read the assigned material for homework. I feel guilty many times, and tell myself we’ll make up for it with some deeply meaningful exchange later. A story, a dance, a free drool session where I sit him on my chest, his heavy head leaning over my face, and the saliva’s stream falling unobstructed into my eye. Here, I am.
I’ve been trying to work on this being present thing in other ways too. Munchkin has this thing of grabbing my finger sometimes when I am positioning him on the breast. I think it’s mostly unintentional (because he’s likely just grabbing for the breast and my finger’s in the way), and yet I feel it’s his way of asking me to give him my full attention. With my free hand confined by his strikingly powerful, infant clutch, I can no longer type, or tap out a search on my phone, or manage a forkful of food from the bowl to my mouth. Because I’m practicing being more present, I don’t just pull my hand away. I actually pause and acknowledge that right now we are breastfeeding, and that too is enough. I know in the span of a lifetime, we will outgrow these moments very quickly. He helps me slow down as the days slip by, sometimes with no greater accolade than that he is fed, and he is clean, and he is warm.
In those seconds when the munchkin requests that I tune into him, I notice how many times it is hard for me to unplug. It’s not that there’s anything going on more important than him. It’s that so much of mothering is multitasking, and it can feel odd to just be doing one thing. Nurse. Nap. Eat. Write? Also, on days when I’m feeling lonely, accessing the outside world and its digital buffet of mayhem, nonsense, and the occasional newsworthiness makes me feel like there’s more to my analytical prowess than the expert inspection required to assess poop diapers for color and consistency.
It’s really interesting to also sustain emotional literacy on days like today. I find myself grateful for the lengthy nap the munchkin is taking. It gives me time to go back to writing, and to revisit what has me feeling low. Before the mothering, I could spend hours, days in uninterrupted sadness. Now, I have to splice it up, interject it between the joyful parts of the day when I am playing games or telling stories or explaining some interesting thing about the world. This is a new thing for me. And as someone very comfortable with the potentially prolonged flows of depression, I am learning to appreciate this new rhythm.
The more I think about it, navigating motherhood has grand implications for reshaping the most effective way through an internal storm. On any given day, it’s unlikely that two hours will ever go by where I won’t have to laugh, or sing, or say I love you, or smile, or soften the muscles on my face, or celebrate the new skill he’s mastered in maneuvering his body in space, or dig past whatever is sour in my spirit until I find something sweet, or be extremely happy about the most unsophisticated thing. Like, that he’s looking right at me and he’s genuinely content to just be present with me. It is good what the munchkin has given me. This gift of a life in intervals, always to be determined momentarily.
Perhaps one day I will write about the omissions, though. In fact, I’m sure I will. I just don’t think it’ll be any time soon. For now, I will prepare the much-needed bath for my munchkin. He likes holding onto the waterfalls. Here’s to being in the moment. However it blooms.
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.