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Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy

Mommy keeps the Munchkin close so he can do his teething in peace.

Mommy keeps the Munchkin close so he can do his teething in peace.

23 weeks | Teething brings us closer to the truth | no. 0016

It’s awful. Watching your child go through such agony. A litany of unhappy moments stacked into yet another hour. This one comes and goes so unceremoniously without the chance to relieve my bladder. He shrieks whenever he is not attached to me. And I don’t want him to be without the comfort of his mother while this essential ache takes root. But still, there are things everyone must know in their own body. This is the cost of growth, it seems.

I feel like I’ve been trying to climb a mountain and I keep tumbling down to the bottom. This peak of peace eludes us both. It lasts only mere seconds out of a minute. That glimmer of a smile on the munchkin’s face when I happen upon something to soothe his gums. I’m always hoping that it’s the right thing. A lasting fix. The glue that can hold this moment together before it succumbs to the sure anguish of a tooth piercing its way into being. There is no cure for life.

In the brief interlude of quiet while he naps on me, I ponder why I’m so hesitant to move from this position. I could go to the bathroom, finally. But I risk losing the calm afforded by his sleep. It’s likely he’ll wake in a fit of pain, needing immediate attention that will be hard to administer from the toilet. Hold it! It’s probably better to wait this peace out indefinitely. Let him wake up when he’s ready, reacclimate to the space, listen to the music, nurse him, hand him a rattle. Then I might actually have a few minutes to do everything from start to finish, with cleanup.

Yes, it’s that serious. And I have worked hard in these first months of mothering to streamline Operation Get-Fresh so that it can happen in record timing when necessary. But this teething thang is making it so the only thing getting flushed down the toilet is my simple dream to use the bathroom. It takes all these many thoughts to reckon with the fact that his ephemeral respite from discomfort is more important than the awkward logistics of delaying my um…situation.

He has cried more times in the last 24 hours than ever before. When I search for natural teething remedies, I learn he has all the symptoms of an infant in the crux of this transition. His wails are of a whole new timbre, a desperation pushing through that is impossible to coexist with any other instinct than to focus all your energies on saving him.

But always, as I cradle him in these trying moments, we are forced to face the limitations of this union as mother and son. Naturally, I want to protect him from all hurts. The mothering heart can be vastly absurd in that way. The same indelicate truth of our human existence rings ever loudly though. That being alive means doing the work to feel your own pain.

I call my mother to vent about how I’ve attempted all these online soothing techniques and it’s anyone’s guess which ones were actually winners. The munchkin is asleep again from the exhaustion of shedding so many tears. I could be resting too, but instead I use the time to be a daughter in her mother’s metaphorical lap. I realize as she’s listening to me and asking me questions about this thing and that thing, that she too is only doing for me what I do for the munchkin in his tough moments. Holding the space. She can’t do my mothering for me anymore than I can grow my son’s teeth for him.

Now I understand why I’ve been clinging to that fleeting silence when it comes. It’s so uncomfortable feeling that I’m not enough for my munchkin if he’s crying. That breastmilk can’t satiate all his ails. That his ability to survive is intrinsically dependent on my courage to let go. This then is a spiritual teething for mommy, of sorts. These vital truths piercing the surface of my be(come)ing one by one.

~~~

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.

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