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26 weeks | Every day needs remembering (on the eve of six whole months…) | no. 0019
These days have been long and short, slow and swift, hard and beautiful. The first six months of the munchkin’s life play on a screen in my head. He splashes toys against the skin of the water in his baby tub. He used to be so small in this thing. I always start with his back, rubbing the soap in circles while he leans forward to grab a toy. His new thing is to reach over the edge and try to touch the exciting world of the big people’s bathroom. He is fast learning that his mission in infancy is to work his way out of the gentle cocoon I’ve crafted for him. His eagerness brings me pause everyday. I work so hard to protect him from growing too soon towards autonomy. Our needs as mother and child converge in the bloom. But this is what it means to be alive.
I brace the right side of his body so that I can clean in between the toes on the left foot. Mentally, I am writing an open letter to my relatives about my son and our joyful, messy, courageous stumbling as a newborn family. In my mind, this letter is supposed to answer some of those questions that have been hanging in the air since our spectacular baby shower. We got gifts, money, blessings, well-wishes, words of encouragement. But underneath our smiles was a raging storm of angst. There is so much we don’t know. At the time, we had not found a space to live, did not know the status of our relationship beyond mother and father to our baby, and had not figured out all those things you’re supposed to have sorted out before the baby is coming. It feels like we’ve unearthed some answers, or at least a workable rhythm of existing within the chronic unknowing that is parenting-loving-living-earning-praying-falling-rising, or simply put with my new word, familymaking.
Munchkin enjoys experiencing the interplay of air and water. Bathing is like a magic show to him. Everything is both there and not there. I give him more time to soak in the wonders of the tub. Sometimes we talk through all he’s discovering in the water, but today we’re quiet, each absorbed in our own thoughts. Also on cue in my brain is writing my birth story, finally. Weeks back, I first mentioned (in one very convoluted sentence, I must admit) that I needed to make peace with our birth journey not happening the way I had envisioned and planned for. For months I have been working on these lines in my head. I even have a title for the essay I will post on this blog in the near future. I’ve also decided that because my story is so big, I must write many versions of its truth. In addition to the essay, I will also write what will become a chapter in the memoir about my mothering journeys. And, I’m collaborating with my partner to create an illustrated edition of our birth story for the munchkin to read in a few years. I think he’ll be happy to know that there is a book in the world that his parents wrote telling the story of the magical adventure that got him here.
The munchkin naps gloriously now. My mother calls to see how we are and asks how long he’s been sleeping. Three paragraphs worth, I say, which translates on any day to a long time. Time now measured, not in seconds, but in how many successful, coherent ideas can emerge at once. In fact, I keep getting up from my chair-as-desk & cushion-on-the-floor office every few sentences to go and check that he’s actually still asleep. I love listening for the soft exhales of his slumbered breathing. In these (rare) quiet interludes it feels like the multitude of moments composing the beginnings of the munchkin’s life can be stretched out, the elasticity of my memories giving the compressed feelings of this familymaking labor room to breathe. How can we remember everything?
He wakes just as I am marveling about how sweet it is when he sleeps. I set him up beside me on the floor. This is a new vantage point for him and he takes in the scene before committing all his strength to dumping the pail and scattering the blocks. I am suddenly so aware of how much noise he brings. The clatter of his presence colors mommy’s writing with brevity. Maybe this is enough for today. I type these last words with just one hand. The other hand is somewhere on the munchkin, ever ready to save his head from colliding with the hard reminder of the fall. Balance is a thing we learn in subtleties.
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.