Souls of tomorrow

Today was my golden birthday! My poor kid was on my mind all week, suffering with an eczema flareup and subsequent heat rash, so I was very distracted and a bit distressed to be honest. But the thoughtful texts and dinners this week were just the right amount of celebration. Thank you loves!

The theme for this past year has been Family. My family has gotten bigger with a newborn and a brother-in-law and fiance, and I get to spend time with my blood family more than I ever have since moving out of the nest, some 10+ years ago. Particularly with my mom, who has been living with us part time and doing more than I could ever ask for, my relationship has grown. I'm very grateful that our son has such doting aunts and uncles and grandparents and great-aunts and uncles, and it's really wonderful to see how our little one has brought our family closer together. It's a nice side effect that I didn't fully expect out of all of this.

I came across this excerpt and had to share. Although this poem talks about a relationship between a parent and child, I think in any relationship, it's important to distinguish the intimacy from the non-ownership, mutual respect and separateness that is inherent in every individual. When I struggle with parenting, when my marriage isn't all butterflies and unicorns, when the daily grind feels plain and boring, I want to never forget that to love is to be free.

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.” 

―Children, by Khalil Gibran

How Being a Parent Has Changed Me

How has being a parent changed me….

I would say that it's changed me only a little bit so far. It's almost three months and two weeks since he came into the world, and in the little time that has passed (and yes, it goes as fast as they say) I don't feel drastically different. Sure, my life will never be exactly the same. I have someone to consider with every move I make. But I don't "see the world differently", and I don't feel that my life has "changed forever" so much. Everything has been unsettlingly natural.

Yet I find myself questioning my emotional identity. I feel things, a lot of things, but I thought I would feel… more. Don't get me wrong, I feel amazed by Ryo; that we created him but we do not own him; that he is his own whole human being, right from the start. I feel grateful that he is healthy. I also feel surprisingly relaxed and easy going, when I thought I would be more obsessed. Even throughout pregnancy I didn't feel like making a big deal about his nursery, parenting style decisions, even things we needed to decide immediately after his birth like his name and whether or not we should circumcise. I didn't want to feel rushed so I let each step of the journey sink in, taking my time to adjust and trusting that it will come. I don't worry about what looks like eczema on his cheek. I don't think he needs a bath every day. I handle him like a football when I probably should be more careful. 

So, I'm taking my time, but I then i start to worry. Is it too much time? Am I waiting too long to "become a parent?" How open am I capable of being? Am I guarding myself? Have I not made a bond? I want to feel close to my son, and I want to feel close to my partner. Am I holding back? Am I just exhausted? Am I too distracted by all the should-be's? Should I not be? God, I am starting to understand why my mom despises that word, "should". It's so loaded with judgement and expectations. I've written about my struggles with judgement before, and I'm starting to realize that I haven't written about my birth story because of how much Expectation is weighing me down. I want to feel free of all that… 

I really liked this blog post by artist Michelle Armas, whose work I love, but also whose voice I admire. She writes her take on how her impending parenthood can be as individual as she is, and how **she decides** how it goes. That completely resonated with me. I want to feel that freedom from expectation, which by the way, I'm realizing is COMPLETELY internal and dumb. I don't know how to stop listening to myself but also start listening to myself, like a freak'n schizophrenic, but I'll figure it out.

I can probably start by being assertive with myself and making some conscious statements like: I am both a laid-back parent AND I have motherly instincts, which means I know what matters and what doesn't. The only thing I should do right now is give my son lots of kisses and cuddles while he's still little and can't run away from me. I want to start making a habit of saying "I love you" multiple times a day. I will protect his online presence and limit sharing, as much as I can abstain anyway, the internet ho that I am. I don't want him to watch produced television at all, but I guess home videos or text-based screens are OK. And if we're going to have toys they will be thoughtfully designed. Tactile, not tacky. I will do what I can to take him outside and explore, but I won't go out of my way to do something neither of us will enjoy. 

Hunh, weird. I feel better already.

Support vs. Advice

I'm feeling thankful for more daylight, family walks, sweet baby dozing on my shoulder, and easy times. We've had a frustrating couple of days but we're in touch with amazing support people and tomorrow is looking hopeful. 

Side thought: as a new mama I'm learning there is a fine line btwn *support* versus *advice*. When did I get so sensitive? I don't have any more grains of salt to handle the next bit of "advice" for fear of potential judgment or comparison. 

There's that F-word again. I thought that letting go was the antidote to all fear, allowing oneself to be open without inhibition to welcome all possibilities, both bad and good. But this feels like it's a matter of protection, of a fragile vulnerability of my soul. I want to protect what is mine to own: from my birth story, to my family values to my son as a human being, this is my story to experience and own. It is not up for discussion, let alone judgment or comparison. So perhaps the true antidote to this kind of fear, instead of letting go, is holding on. Owning and being proud of what is mine and who I am. (I'll save the "who am I" reflection for another post).

If you have thoughts about that, I am currently accepting encouraging love. :) 

And Then There Were Three

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We welcomed our son Ryo into the world with some tears and a lot of "Oh my god!"s. Our room was windowless and dimly lit so I had no idea it was 2:45pm in the afternoon. We had the rest of the day to soak it all in.

Full birth story to come sometime, but here are the points I want to write about:

  • Chronological order of events.
  • Things I'm proud of, like laboring for 34 hours for the goal of a natural delivery. Achievement unlocked.
  • Things I'm not proud of, like how I couldn't totally relax and how loud I was. Animalistic is an appropriate descriptor!
  • Jason. Of course I have to gush about Jason.
  • Mantras that worked for me. 
  • Attempt to describe what contractions and pushing feels like. (Spoiler Alert: INSANE.)
  • What I wish I had known, and would I do it again.

He's 11 days young today, and we've learned so much about each other already. Every day we work together as a family to make breastfeeding and sleeping and soothing better, and I think it's working. Jason and I have high spirits and are pretty much gushing over how everything he does is cute cute cute. He'll never be this tiny again and it makes me want to stare at him just a bit longer...

My Happy Place

I like to go on vacation for any reason at all: to run away from the everyday mundane; to create new memories; to reconnect and be present; to adventure and explore; to eat. Whatever the impetus and however the trip went, I look forward to coming back home just as much. Laying in my familiar bed with the familiar smells, and closing my eyes and being able to instantly travel back and experience it all over again: it's all part of my vacation experience. Time traveling makes the world seem all the more closer together and...connected. 

Last night I finally went through camera photos from our Maui trip from 2012 and my body and mind immediately went to a relaxed, post-coital, food-coma-like zen zone. I know we all claim to have seen the best sunsets in the world at one point in our lives, but just take a moment to let your mind melt into the painted ocean below. You'll see.

What's your happy place?  If it's vacation-able, I'd love to add it to my list.