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31 weeks | I knew this day would come | no. 0024
The story I want to tell is so layered. Always, it grows out of hand before I can write it all down. It’s really a parade of chapters, multiple acts of a never-ending play, the impossible movie spanning every second of my life. On any given day I am journeying through one or more of those scenes, zooming in on something and placing it as authentically as possible into words. Today, I struggle with this process, this translation of what my mothering looks like, feels like during the ritual that has become Wednesday’s Bloom.
In the early morning hours, while nursing a sleeping munchkin in the dark, I see that my story for today will be tangled up again. All this pondering I do before the sun’s first light. A few hours later I am no closer to that clear narrative. I comb through all the big milestones of the week. First crawl, first story time at the library, first week of having set up my new “creative laboratory” corner in our home. All great things that spark many reflections. And yet, I don’t have a lot of energy to fully tell those stories right now. I am looking deeply into this Wednesday’s Bloom practice and admitting that I’m in some space of transition.
The rhythm of our familymaking is evolving, and my writing has yet to recover its time in my day. Especially on Wednesdays, I notice how it’s much harder for me to just come, and sit, and open the computer, and write. This commitment I made to share my most vulnerable truths is more difficult these days. It’s like coming to the podium and, not forgetting what you want to say, but just not knowing where to begin. With every potential starting point, there’s a chance I’ll omit some critical part of the story that will render the whole thing out of context. It’s like I want you to see the finished masterpiece, but all I’ve got time for is the sketches. And I need you to not take the sketches as the whole story, but to receive it as my offering of a work in progress.
This fear of being drastically misunderstood is the main reason why so many of my stories remain in the wings. It’s the ongoing debate: Is a half-truth better than no truth at all? I think it depends. Mainly, the measure of what to tell and not tell is a function of how distant the truth becomes when, because of the gap I create by only sharing what I have time for, there’s all this room for you to fill in the blanks of what I mean. Sometimes, the potential for being misunderstood humors me. Other times it terrifies me. It’s on these occasions when I am most prone to censoring myself, postponing the truth for the dubious later on that houses the rest of my stories’ blueprints.
So in the spirit of full disclosure, I can tell you that what I want to explore in longer essays at some undetermined time in the future is how all this time I have been right about insisting that the munchkin and I take this slow walk towards independence. This is so important for me to acknowledge because I live in a world that pressures mommies into thinking there’s something dangerously wrong with taking your time to feel all the stages of this mothering journey. My whole week has been this huge “ahaa” moment confirming that I was wise to trust my intuition in the face of others’ doubts about my process. It’s not even just that one day all the dots suddenly connected. But rather a season has dawned, and it feels so wonderful to know that we weren’t rushed to this inevitable stage of subtle separation.
From the beginning, I have known that each moment with the munchkin is a step forward. There are no do-overs, no going back at a more convenient time to witness the massive and dynamic growth. The first year of a human’s life is dense with milestones, the rapid development that occurs is unparalleled by any other age. I love that I can be totally immersed in my son’s bloom and document much of these once-in-a-lifetime firsts. Still, one of the costs of being so present with the munchkin’s evolution is that I have had less energy (read: mental stamina) for other things. And by other things, I mean my art.
But a really beautiful thing has started to unravel on its own now. As he is stepping into greater abilities of navigating the space by himself–sitting up for long periods of time, crawling, scooting, falling and getting back up, choosing which way he wants to go– I am feeling a concurrent revival of my radiant artist self. Everything is buzzing. Not only did I finally organize my books, journals, workbooks, doula study materials, research guides, and creative tools, but in the past week I’ve collected over 20 items from the library. Topics ranging from hula hooping, reflexology, writing techniques, reading curriculum, the Mau Mau, Haitian revolution, and sign language. All these things are connected to brilliant ideas, revisited and newly imagined alike, that just feel good to just explore.
It’s like I’ve come through the initial fog of my early postpartum. For me, the clearing is starting to emerge at 7 months after the munchkin’s birth. This is evidenced in many ways: my own elevated energy level, my growing capacity to handle other responsibilities at home and elsewhere, my increased showers per week ratio, the greater distances we travel away from home by ourselves on public transportation, the modest accumulation of minutes just before he wakes when I quite possibly can read one whole chapter, maybe two. All this signals major growth for us. I believe the clearing I’m speaking of looks and functions differently for every mother. And from the first day of the munchkin’s life, I have advocated for my right to move into our independence gently, and without artificial acceleration from standards that make no sense to us. (This was extremely challenging, and often a lonely fight, and one of the things I’ll elaborate on at another time.)
I think it’s no coincidence then that I’m feeling like I have the cognitive space to just think, at the same time that my son is beginning to experiment with the rudimentary elements of existing in this life on his own terms. The simple, yet profound, task of getting from here to there, with nothing but the powers of his own body. Isn’t that essentially what we’re all continuously trying to perfect throughout life? This happy balance of figuring how to get ourselves where we want to be, when and how we want to get there.
I cherish this unique opportunity I have to hold the space for my child as he attempts the hard and majestic work of being alive. This, I can watch in its purest form. His delicate and awkward motions to lift and roll and bend and push and go, always to go, fascinate me. And the effort thoroughly occupies him too. He literally gets busy doing his thing, which in effect, gives me time to do my thing, albeit in pockets of 10 minutes or so. But still, that’s progress. That’s something to celebrate.
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.