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24 weeks | All funked up and ready to go | no. 0017
I have not been taking very good care of myself. I feel “run down”; I think that’s the right term. It was actually 12 weeks ago today when I first wrote about the challenges of bathing everyday as a new mommy. But today’s self observation is not just me revisiting the hygienic inconsistencies of my mothering. This is also an acknowledgement of the internal wear and tear on my system of good intentions, a coming to grips with the tendency I have to nurture Binah last, or more aptly, indefinitely later. It’s like I’ve been watching the waters rise for some time, but only now am I choosing to see the flood.
I ache. In my lower back, specifically. I have awakened every morning to an increasing discomfort when I sit up to nurse the baby. It seems no number of propped pillows can alleviate the band of bruised muscles that have become so seamlessly a part of just the way things are. When I do trace the pain back to its beginnings, I find a knot of many probable causes. My poor posture when breastfeeding. The slouched hours, sometimes days, I spend at the feet of my makeshift desk (read: chair). The constant bending over to change diapers on the bed, retrieve faraway toys from wherever the munchkin’s strong arm has flung them, load, unload, and then reload the washing machine. The ever lifting of my solid baby boy who’s favorite place in the whole, wide world is that modest gap between my torso and the arms that hold him. The stretchy fabric of the baby carrier conspiring with gravity to put undue pressure on my back. The still separate walls of the abdomen leaving much of the work of my core to the latissimus dorsi and its associates.
I could be doing better, though. There are plenty of simple exercises to do. Just a few minutes a day, and I could probably restore my back quickly. But I have only dabbled in these things so far. In the random intervals when I am dancing, it’s usually with the munchkin somehow attached to me, and I’m still engaging all of my parts that need to rest. I have books on this wellness work, people in my life who specialize in body sciences, and I’m a dancer. So I know what I should be doing. Well then, why haven’t you done it, I ask myself.
For this I have no good answer. But I am in a wedding in a few weeks, and more than looking good in my dress, I want to feel good as I walk down the aisle, pose for the pictures that will last a lifetime, and find myself on the reception dance floor with a vibrancy that is real, and not just a practiced mask of joy for the occasion. I’ve been going over in my mind what needs to change in order for me to replace the stiff edges of my being with the fluid grace of my becoming.
In addition to some daily regimen to heal my body with movement, I want more water to touch my body on a regular basis. Those inadequately quick showers I’ve come to capture once every few days are not at all restorative. At best, they keep me from being completely foul with my family and render me fresh-esque when I have to go out in public. But again, the cursory splash of water and soap in the most urgent of places is not the same as a sit-down-and-soak bath.
Now, I have never liked taking baths. My partially claustrophobic self was not wild about the idea of a cramped rectangle filled with hot water and bubbles inside a small room with humid air. No thanks. I tried so many times to relax and enjoy this thing that’s supposed to be so soothing, and eventually realized it’s just not my thing. As a new mommy though, I am reconsidering my heretofore ban on baths. Not only would I get more clean, I’d have to really pause and go through this ritual of doing something just for me. I’d have to unplug from the phone and computer. I’d have to give the munchkin to his father. I’d have to get off my feet. I’d have to put no strain on my back. I’d have to read nothing, sign nothing, organize nothing.
I’ve even figured out that if I just leave the bathroom door open I won’t sweat out my perm (ok, that was a baldie joke!) But really, I won’t get so hot if the cool air from elsewhere is unobstructed. Instead of bubbles, I’ve got lavender drops and my own imagination. I just had a flash of the dirt ring my first bath in who knows how many months will make in the tub. It might feel good though to see what all I’m leaving behind, what magnitude of old things can come out in the wash.
Ok, I’m really going to do this thing. I’ll be sure to write about what it feels like to add a narrative of self-care into my mothering. And you can help me too, beautiful world. Check in with me. Send me loving reminders to honor the Binah. Ask me how this experimental ritual-building is going. Be honest. Be gentle. This is vital, folks. And if you don’t know me, you do know some other mother.
I’m so young in my mothering, and there is much more ahead. This is my prayer to take care of this body. Take care of this me.
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.