I've been silent here these past couple of months. First, my computer broke and I relished the silence. Then it was fixed and, well, I continued to relish the silence. But I'm back now. And will make more of an effort to update here. For friends and family far and wide and for posterity. So that I document this time, that is so easy to overlook. These slow moving days full of laughter and the mundane. It's been a year since our dove was born and it's hard to explain the change she has brought about in me. I spent the last year searching for myself in a way that I never have before. It has been both alarming and painful. But then, there's also this joy, unencumbered all-consuming, joy. And I realize I'm in love with it all. All of it. Even the shit parts, because this is it and I'm damn lucky.
I could say more. But I won't. Not now. Because, now she is one! ONE!
The other night I looked over to find Eulalie playing in the light. It was as if she was aglow (look at those ears!). In that moment I thought to myself, "these are the moments I hope I remember when she's grown." So simple and full of magic. I am in constant awe of her and the gifts she has given me. Life feels so much fuller and precious now that she's here. She has taught me what it is to be truly grateful. Oh how I love this little baby of mine.
We choose to co-sleep. Two parents, one baby, one bed. When she was tiny we slept with her in-between us, up at our heads, waking often to check she was still breathing. She never cried out for us because we were there. If I heard her rustle in the night I would roll over and nurse her. It was as simple as that and I loved it. All three of us did. When she began to awaken to the world she would slay us with her early morning smiles of recognition. She would grin from ear to ear and kick her tiny little feet as if to say, "Good morning! I know you people! You belong to me!" She was a good sleeper in those early months. She loved snuggles and being swaddled, she was calm and content right beside us. Sleep was good.
And now... Eulalie is no longer tiny and we still co-sleep. She loves to kick, crawl and stand whenever she gets a chance. She wakes us up, babbling, reaching out, and pinching at all hours of the night. I wish I could say she still loves being snuggled, but it seems as if she prefers her own space, albeit still cozied up near us. As she grew so did our need for space. I would love to buy a brand new organic King size mattress, but alas that is not in our budget. Instead, we put our mattress on a box spring (without a frame) and converted Eulalie's crib (which she has never used as a crib) into a toddler bed that is at the same level as ours. Now she has her own little space and so do we. During the day she naps in her little nook with a pile of pillows keeping her in. She can steamroll her way over the pillows when she is determined, but we keep the monitor on and have never had a problem with her escaping off the bed. At night she starts in her bed until around midnight when she wakes to nurse at which point she re-assumes her postion from those early days in between us, except now she is no longer swaddled, and as such, enjoys taking up as much space as possible with her arms extended wide.
Sometimes I think about moving her crib into her bedroom and having her sleep by herself. When I am especially exhausted after a night of babbling, crying, kicking, and pinching I think I can't get rid of her soon enough. And then, all I have to do is look at her, really look at her and I know it's worth it. There will be a time, soon enough, when she will sleep in her own room, when she no longer nurses at night, when she no longer nurses period. My little girl has gone from just being born to 9 months in a flash and it is not lost on me how precious this time is. And so, it's worth it: to hear her soft inhales and exhales as I turn in for the night, the way she reaches out for me and rolls over to be closer when she dreamily realizes I am finally in bed, the way I pull her little body next to mine to let her nurse in those hazy early morning hours, and the way I find her an inch from my face, eyes aglow with a giant smile when she wakes up in the morning. And so we continue to co-sleep. Two parents, one baby, one bed.
You can stay a while yet my little one. We love you so.
I constantly marvel at just how much a walk can change our mood, our day, our attitude. Just the simple act of getting outside, with a baby in the stoller or worn on my hip, can be a game changer. We've started a little tradition of having a family walk as soon as Drew gets home in that lazy evening hour before dinner and the rush of bedtime. We talk about our day, revel in Eulalie's sweetness, and admire the blossoms and trees. Spring is here. SPRING IS HERE!
I've been thinking a lot lately about the choices that we make and how they color our reality. How I often feel stuck in a situation when really I am there out of my own doing. It's as if my ideals don't quite line up with reality. I profess the values of living simply, living contentedly with less, having a humble heart and yet I struggle with wanting more and wishing for better. Those principles that I hold most dear don't always come easy to me.
Sometimes I wish we had more time to spend together as a family (Drew works long hours) or more money to get nicer things, go out to fancier meals, buy a home with a backyard. Or I miss my career and leading a life outside of the home. And it's so easy to feel cheated out of something that I believe I deserve (entitlement is such a nasty quality, isn't?). When really we are where we are (which is really a rather lovely place to be when you get right down to it) because of the choices we have made. We are creatures of free will and as such life doesn't just happen to us, we play a role in it. We chose to have a child before 30, before established careers, before the house with the backyard. We choose to live off of one meager paycheck so that I can stay home with our daughter; so we can raise her ourselves. And these are choices. And we are lucky, oh so very lucky to have the opportunity to make these choices.
And really life is wonderful. Not perfect, by any means, but really good. There is laughter, early morning snuggles, home-cooked meals, family down the road, beautiful surroundings, a caring community at our doorstep, a delightful and healthy baby, and the willingness to keep doing the work to live a life of our choosing. So when I begin to feel anxious, or impatient about the way things are now I try my best to remind myself that this is it. This is as much a part of our story as any of those other things one day will be. And every day I get a little better at being the person I want to be. But, my oh my, sometimes it's such hard work choosing to be happy. Because, happiness, I believe, is a choice too. Though it's not effortless, and sometimes I have to work real hard at it, I am happy and it makes my heart glad knowing that all I have to do is stare into my daughters face to know I would make the same choices all over again if it meant getting to be her mama.
*I have many thoughts about parenting that I would like to visit over the course of the next weeks.
One of the most pleasant surprises about motherhood thus far is how natural it feels. Sure I get frustrated at times and need a break, but by and large I feel wholly contented by my role. It is a pleasure to tend to this child and watch her grow. It's a privilege.
Several years before having Eulalie I attended Waldorf teacher training. Though I look forward to the day I make my way back to the classroom, I cherish what my training lends to me as a mother. We live in a time when anxiety over parenting seems almost trendy. We mothers are constantly questioning our decisions worried that we could be doing things (everything) better. We google, we discuss, we worry, we compare, we obsess, and we feel guilty. When it comes to children our society seems to have lost, or at least forgotten about, our inner wisdom; our intuition. In general, I am quite hard on myself. I am always thinking of the ways I can do things better. I am a goal oriented perfectionist. And yet, when it comes to parenting, somehow, I feel calm and relaxed. I have certainly succumbed to some lat night googling ( ie: 6 week old green explosive poop), but overall I feel confident in my abilities. Not perfect mind you, or an expert by any means, but parenting Eulalie feels right. And I'm going with it.
When I think about why I feel so good about parenting this little person, which really is a terrifying prospect when you sit down and think about it, it is because I trust her and I trust myself. So I guide her, offer her oh so much love, and by and large let her be her own person. And, by the same token, I am gentle with myself, I expect mistakes and mishaps, but I also value myself and my knowledge and genuinely believe that we are the best parents for this particular child. And so far so good, not perfect, but good.
We live in a humble home. A changing home. A we-still-have-to-paint-the-walls home. And hang-up-artwork home. And wash-the-windows-home (ahem). A this-is-certainly-not-our-forever-home home. But, there's beauty and simplicity and good things here and so for now, we are happy to call this little place ours. I know there will be a day when we leave this place and I will forever think of it as the house where we grew into a family. And that alone, fills me with gratitude, even now when we are in the thick of it.
Of all the rooms in our little house I love our kitchen the most: its glorious light, its little dining nook, the nourishment sprung from love and sweat that it provides. I would say it's perfect, but in reality it's not. The fridge squeaks, we need more shelves, there is a tiny herd of sugar ants that would like to take over if we let them, but even so, it's magic what all can be accomplished and transformed in there and for that I'm oh so thankful.
Since Eulalie's birth I've become passionate about feeding my family well. We've always chosen fresh over packaged and meals made from scratch over convenience food, but the rhythm I've found these days goes a step beyond. There is always something gracing my shelves, bubbling, brewing... metamorphosing into something delicious and nourishing.
Several months ago we joined a cow share and now get farm fresh real milk on a weekly basis. With this milk I make yogurt and kefir. I have learned about the nutritive and balancing nature of fermented food and so there is always something bubbling in our pantry. Our favorite so far is traditional sauerkraut with caraway seeds and beets. Though I have given up gluten (oh how much better I feel!) I still make two loaves of fresh sourdough every week for my husband's lunches. I love greeting the sourdough start (it is alive after all , feeding it, and creating dense delicious (so my husband says) whole wheat loaves out of it. We have a perpetual crock pot of bone broth bubbling on our counter, which we dip into daily. We drink it at breakfast and use it to cook with in the evening. I found myself buying kombucha on a weekly basis and, so, I now nurture that mysterious critter too (my husband is creeped out by kombucha. I love it. How about you?).
What I love most about my kitchen is the work that is done in it. It yields food that nourishes my family's bodies, but it also has transformed me. I no longer try to hurry through chores, ticking them off my to do list one by one. But rather, I try to stay present while I languidly make my way through the days tasks. Because, well, I'm not just making bread, or sauerkraut or yogurt. Bottled up in each one fo my creations is love, fortitude, and stewardship. And, I'm pretty sure our food tastes better for it.
first glimpse of spring
nothing more satisfying than drying baby woolens and diaper covers
Just like that, winter has come and gone. It's the beginning of March and spring is shyly beginning to show herelf with buds, blossoms, and flowers. Our little dove has grown in these past three months. She has gone from a tiny little thing to babbling, screeching, moving (!) creature with opinions and wants all her own. It's a wondrous thing watching a child grow. I swear she's a whole different person from one night to the next. Sometimes I wake in the night and just stare at her little frame rising and falling as if I'm going to catch her growing right before my very eyes.
These past three months have brought oh so many changes. We've moved house, celebrated our first thanksgiving and Christmas as a family of three, the little one started to roll, then inch, and now scoots herself about--choosing to bypass her basket of toys for more interesting things like wall plugs and computer chords, she started eating solids, and is teething in earnest. Oh so many changes in three short months. So here we are, moving forward as always. Growing, expanding, and of course changing. It's wonderful really, discovering this story that will be ours when our children are big and grown.
*a collection of pictures from my camera and iphone.