Seattle sunshine + Easter egg hunts + church + family + getting dressed up in our finest + good food + good news + okay sleep = great weekend. Hope you all had a Happy Easter weekend!
I have had an explosively good week. It feels like my heart chakra is bursting open and I am so full of love for myself and my son and my husband and everyone around me. But it’s not like a manic feeling, more of a quiet rush of intense emotion. Maybe it can’t even be classified as emotion, it’s more like a state of being that just feels so vulnerable and raw and beautiful. Even now, in thinking of Potamus in his room taking a nap, my heart feels like it’s going to explode with love, and I want time to stand still.
And, there’s no denying the coincidence of the last few incredible mom days have coincided with the Seattle sunshine we’ve been having. I hadn’t made the conscious connection until I was speaking with a college friend who suffers from PTSD and chronic pain. I was blabbing about how right now I’m in a really good mom space and I said,
“I think I’d be a better mom in Hawaii, or California, because, when I don’t have to focus on my seasonal depression, I have so much more energy to just be a good mom. “
It’s true, though, when I’m not battling my obsessive thoughts or worry, or trying to muster myself out of bed because I’d rather stay there all day, I find myself moving simply and easily through the day, even juggling Potamus’ nap schedule and getting out to do fun connected things. Now, I’m not saying I’m a perfect mom, there are plenty of cheerios on the floor, and I ate fast few far too many times this week, but when I’m not crazy I’m not beating myself up. But it’s not until spring-time, with the sunshine and lighter days, that remind me of how much energy it takes to live with a mental illness with even myself, let alone take care of a little one.
So I want to remember this next fall-winter, as I head into a darker period. Perhaps I will go on anti-depressants or start visiting a naturopath and get on a better regimen, or try to expose myself to as much light as possible. Because these lighter nights make me feel calm, and I sleep better, and I’m not as worried or full of yawning and wanting to go to bed at 4pm.
In prep for this coming quarter, I thought I’d watch a few documentaries that might expose my students to the idea of critical thinking and questioning the status quo, not to mention that I really enjoy documentaries with a spiritual flavor.
I knew going into the documentary that Kumare was fake, a man doing a Borat-style (though, seemingly with less malintent) social experiment meant to expose the ease in which swamis/gurus/prophets/babas/etc can exploit people’s desires for truth and connection. I knew he was fake the whole time. They tell you right from the beginning, and then you follow him on his journey to become the false-prophet Kumare, and gain a following, but I found myself compelled by his persona the whole time.
What is it about the search for a guru that compels me so much? I WANTED to believe in what he was saying and who he was. It’s crazy the feeling that I had while watching it, because I am normally the most skeptical person ever.I sit in church and pick apart the sermon. I read and analyze and am open to learning, and yet in so many other ways I simply give in to emotion and believe random things that come along that just “feel” right to me.
So why do I feel like I want a guru/teacher? In my mind I envision sitting at Jesus’ feet and it feels SO RIGHT, but he’s not here anymore, and in so many ways I feel like his message has been twisted and changed by the church and pastors to mean something different than it was intended. It makes people feel unloved and unaccepted, and that’s not what I believe to be true.
In so many ways I have felt a part of a spiritual community in our home church, but now with a little-one and a church comprised of 70+year old grandparents, and virtually no under 3 child program or way of me getting my spiritual needs met while Potamus gets his spiritual needs met, leaves me feeling frustrated. And yet I’m not inclined to go to the neighborhood rock n’ roll church with a preacher I disagree with, simply because they have a “good child program.” I also don’t want to drive a bazillion years to get to church, because I like that ours is in the heart of our town and is such a community feel. I wrestle with my motivation for wanting to go and my motivation for wanting to stay home. And my desire for Potamus to have spirituality as a foundation, but wanting to steer away from the way my fundamentalist upbringing. I know that I believe being a part of a community is important, but if I were to say I have a “guru” it’d be in the form of writers like Anne Lamott or Donald Miller or Brian McLaren. But part of me wants to sit at the feet of a teacher and experience the love. Ya know?
“Hey! After much research on the internet, I think we’ve figured out that the skull from the juniper bush was a rabbit! I think it was the Easter bunny!” I said loudly to my in-laws on Sunday.
“Well, better than Santa Claus,” my mother-in-law retorted.
She’s referencing my childhood that was void of all things Santa, but seriously, yes, a human skeleton of any type, let alone the jolly old elf himself, showing up in my backyard would be creepy as hell. Especially since we know that one of the owners DIED in our house. She was old, though, and not related to Santa in any way. So, short of having some human burial ground in our backyard, coming across an animal skeleton was a step better.
Though, typically, dead animals freak me out.
I mean, really freak me out.
Like I have a 6th sense for taxideried mounts and have yet to be disproven by my proclamation “there’s dead animals here.” Usually Boof looks at me like I’m crazy, but then sure enough the person’s house or the antique shop or the random restuarant will, in fact, have some type of taxidermied animal on display (or chucked in a bin with antique dolls and old shoes), and I will proudly exclaim “told you so,” to my scoffers. I’m pretty sure I was the only child who listed “dead buffalo” as a fear. Not live buffalo. Dead buffalo (who, coincidentally I believed haunted our hallways, though taxidermied animals had never ‘set foot’ in our house).
So, coming across a skull, in my backyard would normally leave me screaming or crying or feeling a sort of panicky-can’t-get-my-breath moment. For some reason, maybe wanting to be strong for my toddling son, I became fascinated. And I pulled the skull out of the pile of decaying juniper needles, dug around and found a few more bones, and placed it on our deck to research later. Because, it makes a difference, right, if it was a large rat (Boof’s first guess) or a gopher (my guess) or…The Easter Bunny.
I wasn’t allowed to believe in Santa Claus as a kid because my mom’s parents had let her believe until she was about 12. And then she thought they were liars and then she had a crisis of faith wondering if GOD existed because she couldn’t see Him and maybe he was just like Santa and the whole thing was a sham. Boof, on the other hand, has fond memories of the Santa presents and the whol rigamarole that surrounded it as a kid. It might cause us to get a divorce because I am staunchly anti-Santa and he is marginally pro-Santa, but my in-laws feel judged and sad that I am so anti-the-whole-thing. They also say I’m a hypocrite (in not such nasty words) because I’m fine with believing in mermaids and fairies and the Easter Bunny. And they don’t understand why my parents encouraged Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy beliefs but were so staunchly anti-Santa.
At any rate, after much googling, it appears the skull is more on par with a rabbit than a rat (phew) or gopher (meh). My mind begins to wonder, though, if the rabbit lived in our backyard and died of old age? Or did he get scared and find shelter under the junipe bush and then it MURDERED him with its insidious juniperyness? Or maybe it was injured and suffered because of a dog-bite and died a mere few feet from where help could have potentially saved it. Or maybe it was so outraged by the Cadbur Egg prices this year that it had a heart attack.
I’ll never know the true story, but…what if? What if it was the death of the Easter Bunny? What if my backyard is a burial ground for other things, too? Eek!
Potamus took his first legitimate steps (by himself, no prompting, no holding on and shuffling and then flinging himself wildly at the couch) outside. It somehow seems SO fitting for this little nature-obsessed buddy to decide that outside was a much more preferred venue to try his little shuffle step. What I love is that he was practicing without us prompting him, which makes me wonder what’s going on inside that little noggin of his. Does he want to perfect his walking skills and THEN show us? Or is the thrill of being outside, carrying a big stick and exploring the jungle of our backyard so enticing that he just cannot stand to crawl anymore? Whatever it is, it’s very fun to watch from afar at his progress. It feels like just over the few day weekend he has turned into quite an adventurous boy, and so very not much like my little baby anymore.
Our yardwork project is really a beginning of a several year process (yay) to get it to look the way we want. We’ve spent the last year talking about cutting down the laurel and holly bushes and putting in some bark. So my father-in-law came over with the chainsaw and helped us out, which was exciting to see so much progress, but just like any other spring cleaning process, the yard looks worse now, because of all the branches and debris, and now the slow cleanup process will begin to see what we have to work with! I’m hoping to lay bark this spring and then decide what low maintenence bushes to add into the mix!
And here’s to hoping the weather continues to hold…Seattle is so fickle this time of year!
Embracing another Seattle Spring day, Potamus and I headed on up to the Woodland Park Zoo to visit with a friend. He really enjoyed seeing the penguins, but was afraid of the giraffes and meerkats. He was pretty indifferent to the ADORABLE lion cubs, but it could have been the massive crowd of people surrounding the windows. He maxed out at about 1:30 minutes, so I’m happy that we have a year zoo pass to go back and keep exploring! I’m excited about trying the Zoomazium indoor place on a rainy day!
It was simultaneously a gorgeous day in Seattle, and a snowy one. Parts of the city were closed (like schools) because of snow, while where I was at it was gorgeously sunny! I was able to take a sweet hike through the arboretum with a friend visiting from San Francisco. We got side-tracked and ended up on a detour that took us down a steep muddy hill, which was good for laughs!
The rest of the day I spent gardening with Potamus in our yard. He was enjoying roaming around in his “camo” jammies, while I attacked the out-of-control laurel hedge! While I know that days are going to be more filled with rain than sun in the next few weeks, it was pretty nice to have the sun burst through!
The soggy morning commute was good for reflection. There was this niggling conversation happening in the back of my brain, since last night’s bedtime meltdown (for Potamus, I kept my cool), which ended in one tired kiddo finally falling asleep after fighting it for almost an hour. This conversation is a mulling over of how my instincts knew what to do to help him calm down, which might seem obvious to other moms, but I am sometimes still surprised by the instinctual nature and intuitive way I have with my son (when I’m not letting myself freak out).
I don’t know where I got this idea, but two or so weeks ago, when Potamus was sitting up and bouncing on his butt waving his hands in the air, crying (which seems outwardly like a mini tantrum), I laid him on his side and played a little game. I grabbed his foot firmly and said, “Is your foot tired?” And then I grabbed his ankle and said, “is your ankle tired?” I moved on up his leg, with firm pressure saying “Is your calf tired? Is your knee tired? Is your thigh tired?” when I got to his waist I moved on to his arms (because he giggled when I asked if his ribs were tired, cause it seemed ticklish). Firm pressure on his wrist, then arm, then elbow and up to his shoulder. And then I did the other side.
Last night, after two repetitions, he was asleep. And, we put the rice pack, that we used to use instead of a swaddle in our bed, on his belly, and he stayed there sleeping peacefully. A far cry from the crazy energy from 10 minutes earlier.
“Good job mama bear,” Boof said as the ordeal was over. Exhausted, I slinked off to bed while he went to get himself some dinner. 9:00 pm.
I found it hard to fall asleep, though.
I kept wondering and brooding about about how I knew that that’s what he needed. How did I, two weeks ago, come up with that ‘game’ to play to get him to fall asleep?
Part of my brain said, “well, maybe he’s growing. And your legs used to hurt when you were growing. And your adoptive dad used to rub your legs to help you fall asleep after growing pains or nightmares.”
That answer just didn’t resonate with me. The motion that I used, the pressure going up one side and down the other, seemed…intuitive almost. As if it was something that MY body was craving.
I think the hardest part about being an adoptee, is the second-guessing of myself and all of the relationships around me. I walk through life often feeling misunderstood, first by my adoptive family, but often by others, as well. My facial expressions and posture when I’m tired or thinking were often criticized and pestered with “are you upset? are you angry? what’s wrong?” by my adoptive parents. But for all of this feeling misunderstood, that my moods and way of being in the world is abnormal, I have adapted by watching and experiencing how others are in the world. I can anticipate my adoptive mother’s moods like a pro navigator. I sense and feel and craft my words carefully to have the maximum impact on the family around me. I have adapted.
But, I look at Potamus, and am surprised at how I navigate the process of figuring out his needs. While I write a lot, here, about our interactions, a lot of it is simply happening in my head and body. When I say he whines and I don’t pick him up, I really mean that he whines and I pick him up but inside I wrestle with that decision and think about what it’d be like to not pick him up. But this distance and brain calucalations is exhausting and not very mindful. Because when I turn of the analysis part, which is what I’ve used to survive in an unfamiliar world to me, I just know what he needs. There’s this body or soul sense inside me that tells me what to do. It’s only when my mind is screaming “stop whining!” or “I can’t do this!” that I start to freak out.
When I was examining that thought process, this morning, it crossed my mind that I think that way in an attempt to distance myself from Potamus. I don’t want to pick him up because I think “he needs to get used to doing things without me. I’m not always going to be around.” Talk about adoption issues coming to play in my interactions with him. This idea that I’m not going to be in his life, someday, sometime, I’m trying to protect him by stepping back (even just internally), but how much is that for his protection…or my own?
I’m often overwhelmed by the intensity of the bond and love I feel for him, that I almost wonder if I pull back to save…myself? That if I phrase it “someday I won’t be here for you,” to mean, “someday you will no longer be my baby,” and I’m not yet prepared for that reality to happen. Though, my rational mind knows that I will always be his mama, he will always be my son.
So this intuition, this deep knowing of what he needed in that moment last night, to help him fall asleep. Because it’s what I would have wanted. Or, rather, it’s what I would have needed or do need. Why I enjoy a massage touch with a specific pressure and why progression muscle relaxation and body scanning helps me calm my senses at the end of the day. I don’t always know, but when I do, it’s like this deep internal knowing that can’t be explained by words. It’s beyond thinking, if that makes any sense at all? He couldn’t calm the energy inside him, it was escaping and zinging all over and causing distress. When he was brought back into his body, feeling grounded, he was asleep within minutes.
Toddler-wearing. It looks as dreamy as it was.
For the first time in weeks, I had a cry/whine free night (until well past his bedtime), and I attribute it all to a little snuggle sesh with mama after work.
See, for some reason I had gotten it into my thick head that Potamus was getting too old and heavy to be carried around all of the time. His whining to be picked up and when I was cooking dinner was grating on my nerves, I want to say “go play with your toys buddy, I’m cooking,” but I realized, in a conversation with a friend, that perhaps Potamus needs some more quality time. And perhaps that quality time is spent being carried or physically close to me, because, after all, he’s away from me all day when I’m working.
Now, it’s not that I’ve been neglecting him, it’s just that I see how independently he can play and know that I want some free time to myself. But mostly I want there to not be whining. So if holding him is going to stop that whining then I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it even if people think I’m spoiling him. Because, he can learn to wait his turn at daycare. And he can learn that I can’t always rescue him (sometimes a lady’s gotta pee without a kid on her lap, people!), but this revelation that I’ve been missing physical contact and snuggles with Boof, that maybe, just maybe, Potamus has been missing simply being close to me and getting to see the world go by.
The Ergo pack, with a baby on my back, seems awkward, so I whipped out the ol’ ring sling again and have been using it to go on evening jaunts with little guy after dinner and bath, but before Boof gets home for bedtime. Yesterday I decided to not wait until our walk. I put him in it from the minute we got home, and with the exception of eating and bathing, we were attached at the hip all night.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
There’s something blood-pressure-raising about a toddler scrambling at my ankles and tugging on my pant leg wanting to be held. There was nothing stressful about having him strapped to my hip while making dinner, except trying to be extra mindful of where the pans and knives were so that he didn’t just reach over and pull boiling spaghetti sauce on me. While I didn’t get to sit on the couch reading my awesome crime novel, I was pleased that I was able to make dinner without fuss, and felt like we were really connected all evening.
I can’t hold him all the time. And I don’t think that’s what he wants or needs. But it was nice to anticipate the need for some quality snuggles by using the ring sling, and I think they’ll probably be many more walks around the neighborhood with him hitched to my hip.
We’re thinking of having another baby.
There, I said it, and didn’t put any fluffiness around it like, ‘expanding our family,’ or some such nonesense. No, we’re talking about trying to get knocked up…sometime this summer, hopefully, to coincide with my teaching schedule next year. While best laid plans don’t always go how we want (Potamus was an oopsie 3 months early), we’re going to at least TRY. But the whole ordeal is giving me major anxiety, because I’m struggling in so many ways AS IT IS, that it seems ridiculous to think about bringing another child into my world of wacky.
Now, don’t get me wrong, half of what I write about is my own perspective of the crazy, because Boof looks at me and says, “you’re a good mom,” and from someone who’s stingy with compliments, I know he means it. It means I’m probably a pretty good mom, to one kid, most of the time. But I wonder…how will that look if we add another munchkin into the mix?
So here are a few things that I’ve been mulling over, and talked with Boof about last night:
1. I want a daughter VS I want a sibling for Potamus
I know that most people are all about “oh, I want a happy healthy baby,” but I really would like a daughter. I don’t know why…maybe karmic replay of the relationship of my mom/me or my birthmom/me? Perhaps? Maybe I have fantasies about her being just like me and me getting to see myself growing up before my eyes and can provide a way for her to feel safe and nurtured and not like the epic weirdo. I see the relationships that my MIL has with my SILs and think, “hmm, that could be me someday.” Or maybe I think that pink onesies and Easter outfits and ballet slippers are SO FREAKING ADORABLE that they’re messing with my head. I want to be a mom of a son and a daughter.
Boof wants a sibling for Potamus.
Well, technically he wants a sister for Potamus.
While he admits he wants a girl, a daughter, he’s more selfless in wanting that sibling for our son. I think that having another child will be a potential side-perk for our son, but really, it’s because I want to have a daughter and a son, like I mention above.
Does wanting a daughter, rather than wanting a “healthy baby” make me sound like a horrible person?
I’m afraid of many things. Before we had Potamus I worried about being a mom and having energy, and now I see that I worried
almost needlessly. I’m a pretty good mom. And Boof’s a pretty good dad. And we have a pretty good kid. Our life is lovely, right now, and I worry that the fear of adding another is clouding my ability to simply enjoy the moment as a family of 3 + dog. I also worry about #1 and think…if I had a son, I know I’d love him to bits, but I am afraid of being a mom of two sons. Two boys. Two boys + a husband. Two boys + a husband + a male dog. For a woman with a bent toward the masculine, anyway, that image makes me feel both exhilerated at the thought (YAY ROUGH AND TUMBLE, BOY STEREOTYPES!) and also push me into the opposite (there’s a reason I’ve showered and worn mascara every day since Potamus was born…I need to feel other like a mother and that, in my mind, is feminine and homemakery).
3. Love. Patience. & other Parenting things that freak me out…
I know I’m a mom, but the older Potamus gets, the more I feel like myself again…aka that introvert who loves sipping coffee and reading on the couch. I’ve gotten some time in the past week to do that and it feels SO GOOD. I worry that bringing another life into our family will mean holding off on all of those things, AGAIN, and that seems sad. And yet, on the other hand, really? Am I really thinking about not having a kid because I want to read some books? I mean, come on Monk-Monk, that’s just silly.
But there’s something, in my head, about being a mom of one that seems less threatening than being a mom of two. One kid you can reason with. Two means being pulled in two different directions. Twice as much mess and playdates and sporting events. That seems like twice as much work and cutting me in half, leaving how much for…me? Selfish, sure, but a worry I have.
The love, though, is something I’m not worried about (but previously was). We were laying there talking and it blurted out, “I’m not worried about there not being enough love to go around, but enough patience to go around.”
Patience is not really my strong suit. I hate waiting, which is why WAITING to even get pregnant is driving me insanse. I’d rather plunge into the unknown, otherwise I sit in a puddle of anxiety. But seriously, when we say my “patience is wearing thin,” I think of life with two kids. Does patience, like love, expand to fit when more enter the family brood? Is patience a finite resource that I might use up the day before our new potential new baby enters the scene?
I realize that my impatience is the space between what I want to have happen and what is actually happening, so I wonder if I dial back my expectations and give up the idea that sleep is important, that my patience will expand to meet the demand? I don’t know, I worry about that, though.
For all of you two+ families, how did you make the decision to add to your brood? What were your fears? For those of you in a similar place or having decided “one’s enough, thanks”, what prompted you to make that decision?