Self

IMG_0389

Over the past week or so, I started feeling boring. Not bored; boring. I’m four months into motherhood and it feels like my globe trotting, last-minute, backpacking self is a distant, mocking memory.

Maybe that spontaneous spirit started looking for another life to lease when my son, Forrest, set up camp. Maybe this is the “new me.” Maybe that’s how it goes.

But, no, that’s not it. That can’t be it because I can feel her in there.

And she’s pissed.

She’s tapping me, whispering stories, taunting me with a glass of all the things we used to do and be and they’re slithering down my throat, and all of a sudden I’m choking on a licorice laced cocktail of whatifs and usedtos.

Because now what? Now we go to Home Depot. A lot. We go to Home Depot and come home and build things and paint things and figure out how to DIY things, all to make this house our home.

Yea, we do other stuff, too. This weekend, we headed to the Catskills for some would-be-snowshoeing-turned-hiking-because-El Niño, and I’m training for the Boston Marathon, which makes me feel a little more connected to my former self, which is in truth probably why I’m doing it.

At times, though, I guess it feels like my outdoorsy, world-wondering self is focusing a whole lot on what’s indoors, right here at home.

And here’s the kicker: I like it. I love how hard we’re working on making these walls and a roof our home, and I love that Forrest sees that. I love that he’s haggled at flea markets with me and hung out in the wood shop with his dad.

He’s a part of this, and I hope that if he sees us labor with our hands and heads then maybe he’ll default to using his, too.

But…

With the same verve as ever, I love all of the places my husband and I have ended up because we’d never been there before or, “What’s down that road?” I love the clunky weight of hiking boots and the sandy crunch of unwashed trail hair and that moment when you look up and…sigh…that view!

So…

Maybe there isn’t an easy answer. The best I can come up with is that I need to embrace both selves; more so, I need to be proud of them. By enjoying our home and nesting in our community, I’m not betraying that spontaneous spirit. And, when my family and I hit the road next for parts unknown, we’re not abandoning home.

If I give myself permission to be both, accepting that compromise is part of the deal, maybe the result won’t feel boring at all.

What does your “other self” whisper to you and how do you answer?

Help

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 2.14.50 PM

Let’s consider wolves for a minute. A wolf pack typically consists of an alpha male and female, and when the alpha female gives birth, alllll of the females in the pack stick by her and the pups, making sure that everyone has food and shelter and can, I’m guessing, shower.

Help, in other words, is not optional. It’s innate; an evolutionarily ingrained piece of the baby-making pie.

Here’s what happened to us: We had a baby and came home from the hospital and were elated and devastated in nearly equal parts. Our world was turned upside down, we weren’t sleeping, the dogs were neglected, my mind was turning to mush, we were never going to travel anywhere ever again because HOW, and I was never going to get my body back, but who cares because life is over as we knew it.

Oh and also, how horrible a person am I for being overwhelmed instead of staring at my perfect baby all day in grateful bliss? Again, #momguilt for the win.

See, for most of the women I know and me, it’s hard to ask for help. It feels like consenting that we can’t handle X, ergo we are weak and will be the first characters killed off. No, it’s much better that we try to parent and wife and job and support our friends and stay in shape and be happy, rested, polite, rational, witty and informed on our own. Because, see everyone?! I can!

Except that I can’t. And here’s something motherhood has taught me: that’s okay.

WHAT?!? Mind blown.

But, it’s true. The wolves know it, and thanks to my whetheryoulikeitornot friends, now I know it.

Because here’s what also happened to us: My mom stuck around to resuscitate the dogs and scrub our tears off the counter tops and be a mom. A local “MOMS Club” delivered meals, despite the fact that, being new to town, we’d never met any of these women. My friends answered every weepy phone call and, bonus, didn’t tell me everything was okay.

They told me the truth.

One friend told me that for the first two months, she and her partner regretted getting pregnant. Another admitted how relieved she was when her toddler started school. A friend in the city laughed about leaving the kids with Nana so that she could nap without interruption at a nearby salon. One of my dearest friends said simply, “Stop waiting for it to be magical. It doesn’t get magical for months.”

They flew across the country to meet Forrest and do nothing but sit and watch me breastfeed. They drove miles at Christmas for a few hours’ visit. They responded to texts at all hours and held him and sang to him and danced for him and they never asked for gratitude or recognition because they were too busy telling me I was doing great.

My sister wolves gave me permission to feel exactly whatever I was feeling, and it saved me.

And here’s the other thing: the moms in this pack are the best moms I know and they adore their kids even when they don’t deserve adoring. None of their admissions detracted from that truth.

So, if I want to do and feel my best at motherhood and partnership and work and all over, maybe asking for help is part of the deal. Maybe, definitely, I can’t get there without it, and recognizing that makes me, and all of us, anything but weak.

If you could ask someone for help with anything today, what would it be? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow

IMG_0538

Around 6 am this past Saturday, it started snowing. It was gusting sideways and then I swear it was blowing up from the ground. A few hours later, the wind subsided and those slaphappy bursts were replaced with quiet, fluffy flakes that drifted down down down. It was beautiful.

It was Forrest’s first snow.

At four months old, he may not have realized the significance of the moment, but before I know it he’ll be leaping into drifts, begging to go sledding and asking, “What is snow?”

If that question had come on Saturday, I would have frozen in self-doubt and said with false confidence, “Well, son, when water is heated by the sun it evaporates and that water condenses and forms clouds and when it’s cold enough, something something snow. Want a cookie!?”

In other words, Forrest would have gotten a superficial at best, kind of sort of explanation. So, I decided to do a little research into what’s really going on so that when the time comes, and we live in New England so it will, I’ll be ready.

The short version is…

The stuff about evaporation is true; there must be moisture in the air to form snow. Once there’s moisture, “cloud droplets” form and when temperatures slip well below freezing (there’s HOT meteorological debate about what the exact temp must be), these cloud droplets crystalize and become “ice crystals.”

Voila! Snowflake, right? Not so fast, Frosty.

We’re nearing Valentine’s Day so in the name of love, a romantic metaphor: Imagine trying to create a corsage without anything to which to attach the flowers. How would that work? How would your carefully selected blooms stick together on your candlelit night of sweet nothings and proclamations??

Similarly, these ice crystals need a “condensation nucleus” in order to stick together and form a flake. Typically, a grain of sand or fleck of dirt floating around in the air will do the trick. The cluster of ice crystals can now huddle together around this nucleus, form a flake, and, thanks to its added weight, cascade our way.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Every time I dig a little deeper into one of Mama Nature’s wonders, I’m in awe. Here I sit, typing away in toasty comfort while just outside that window, amazing is happening.

Time to grab the babe and tromp around in it.

What is your favorite memory of snow?

Fear

IMG_4099

Aside from the common fears, like your son’s room is haunted by ghosts who whisper, “Choose video games choose video games,” while he sleeps, here are a few of my personal fears in random order:

  • Failure
  • Turbulence
  • My husband wanting to summit K2 or Everest
  • Hyperthermia
  • Falling out of shape (I don’t want to list it, but I’d be lying)
  • The deep sea because what’s under there??

Forrest has started to express fear and I hate it. His face turns cherry red and he’s shocked and seems to be screaming; “How could you DO this to me? You can’t possibly be my real mom!”

Maybe he’s always felt the instinct. Moro reflexes start in the womb, after all. But, now he can tell me he’s afraid and it’s devastating because a) I know I’m the cause because #momguilt and b) I know whatever has stuck his tiny nerve is just the tip of the iceberg.

Life, sweet son, has a way of getting scarier the more you know.

Our approach is to expose him to as much as possible and break him in by getting him out; out in the water, out on the trails, out with the dogs, out in the elements, where anything can happen.

We’re hoping to extend his comfort zone early because we believe that he’ll be a happier, stronger person for it.

And this made me think: who’s pushing me out of mine? Sure, my tirelessly patient family and friends support me and encourage my whims, but who’s tossing me into the water whetherIlikeitornot? Who’s tugging me toward the unknown and holding me accountable for what I do with what I find?

I know what you’re thinking; it should be me, right? I am not four months old.

But, is it so outlandish to think that maybe we, even as adults, need someone or something or some external force to know what’s best and make us do it?

Not encourage, make.

I don’t mean someone should make me fly through turbulence over the Arctic Ocean in a tank top. What I’m wondering is who or what is holding me accountable for pursuing what I want, even if it scares me?

For example, how am I accountable for actually writing, and worse yet publishing? It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but I’m so scared of what you’ll think, that you won’t read it, that it would be easier – safer – not to do it.

So, I haven’t.

Until now, and it’s only because someone stepped up to hold me accountable. In my case, it was Forrest, my infant son. True, I’m terrified of this little blog that no one is even reading yet, but I’m more scared of disappointing him. I’m more scared that one day, I’ll urge him to be courageous and he’ll see right through my hypocritical soliloquy.

He’ll ask, “What did you always want to do that you were afraid of, Mom?” and I’ll answer, “Write,” and he’ll say, “Then, why didn’t you ever try?”

I can’t let that happen, so here I am. If you’re reading, thank you. I’m accountable to you now, too.

What is that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Who or what can make sure you do it?

 

 

 

 

Perspective

IMG_3136

Have you heard of the mayfly? The mayfly has the shortest life span of any animal on the planet. This unfortunate bug lives at most one day. One day! In some cases, mayflies only see a few hours of life, during which their entire purpose is to reproduce. All of this to say…

Over a pint, on New Year’s Day, after pizza, I asked my husband if we live every day like it’s our last. He said, “No.” He said if it were our last day on earth we probably wouldn’t spend it at a desk or running errands or catching up on ‘The Walking Dead’ before bed.

He’s right, sure, but, spoiler alert, GlennisalivethankyouJesus!

Anyway, what he actually said was that living every day like it’s your last is unrealistic. But, he said, given the parameters of reality, there’s nothing he’d rather do with most of his days, and isn’t that worth celebrating?

It made me think. Maybe we are setting unrealistic goals for ourselves and maybe it’s generational or cultural, or maybe it’s specific to our part of the world – some mutation of the American dream. Maybe living like there’s no tomorrow puts too much pressure on today and we end up missing it. We miss all the little, simple things that make today special.

Then I thought about our son, Forrest. He turned 4 months old this week and his hands have discovered what they can do. It is, unquestionably, the most epic discovery ever. Hollywood should make a movie where Matt Damon reaches out to grasp things and we have to rescue him from the ensuing, paralyzing bout of awe.

Even when all Forrest is seeking is his other hand, there’s celebration. His right hand flickers in desperate search of its pair and like a rocket ship to a landing pad, it slows, opens its fingers, and locks into place with his left. BOOM!

These little discoveries are happening every day and he can hardly take it. Sometimes, the wonder of it all is so overwhelming he cries.

Wouldn’t you? If your senses were keen to what’s happening in front of you right now, isn’t it possible that it could be great? And even if it’s not great – even if it’s mundane – it’s your moment and it’s fleeting, so it shouldn’t be missed, right? Certainly not because it’s “too small for iftherewerenotomorrow,” the more I think about it.

We are not, after all, mayflies, for whom there will absolutely be no tomorrow.

Then again, maybe the mayfly takes a different approach. Maybe, since it has no idea that its first day is in tragic fact its last, it approaches its only day as its first…

Maybe that’s what I could do. Instead of living every day like it’s my last and pouting in the consequent disappointment, I could live like it’s my first. I could take a cue from Forrest and Miss Mayfly and experience what’s happening when it happens like that specific moment has never happened before. Because it hasn’t. I could be entertained by the newness of today – what it looks like, feels like, sounds like – and that could be enough.

That today is happening to me for the first time – and isn’t that magical – could be enough.

Then, I could stop treating today like my last and just simply pay attention.

I’m going to try.

So, if today were your first day on earth, what, so far, would be blowing your mind?