I am grateful when I reread my last letter to you. That was stinkin' hard. I remember it well.
In the way that most hardship goes, the memories of those bleak, teeth-grit times in months four and five are fading out -- I still know them in my molecules, but they are becoming more and more like vintage photographs that I hold on to to prove my daring, my strength.
We pool a lot more light in our hands these days.
Your cheeks are light, your eyes, our open mouth kisses, the three of us cuddling in the morning as you talk to us b-b-b-b-a-ing away, you are our cherub and our valentine and our one true love.
Oh lordy hallelujah amen amen amen, thank you for ushering us into the darkness and back out again.
Wait, but first:
Let me back up.
A friend asked me that the other day, and it gave me pause, because I don't know how we did it, baby.
I think just time? I think just letting some of that loneliness and tedium settle around us like dust, and knowing that it was OKAY to not be surrounded by frickin' marigolds every blessed day? That parenting is hard?
When I wrote that last letter, I shared it with others as I often do, and friends and friends of friends reached out to tell me that they felt these things too.
One thing your dad and I will always tell you, for the rest of your life (so much so that you will roll your eyes and murmur, I know I know) is that it is necessary to share your feelings, to feel them with others, and to let discomfort have its place amongst your days and things.
Every time I have done this in my life, I have heard a chorus of me too, and it paves a bridge back to community, away from aloneness.
So I felt shitty. I allowed myself feel it. I shared with others. And the intensity eventually went away.
Mama's first recipe for you!
Also, meet Elsinore. She is your protector. She has watched over you since birth. She is an eagle.
So, in another life, I have a career and I am a counsellor. I am not just your mama.
In counselling, we sometimes try to externalize our feelings so that we can look at them outside of ourselves, because it is very hard to make sense of things when they are buried on the inside. To externalize, you give it a name and a shape or a character, and you talk about it as something beyond you, in order to understand yourself.
(Have I lost you yet? How old are you, as you are reading this, anyway? 18? 27? 35? Are these letters interesting to you? Am I dead? Is this morbid?)
In a nutshell, we have many externalized figures in our household, including: Angus (dad's anxiety), Field Marshall (dad's super do-er drill sergeant), and Elsinore the eagle (my super intense mama over protectiveness / anxiety).
She has become a beautiful and powerful figure to me, but she did not start that way. During the hard time, she protected you in such a way that was pretty draining for me, as she was ever-vigilant, ever-ready, and super exacting.
Baba and I have had many talks about her, as sometimes she was a pain to be around. Oh man, you were so safe and well cared for because of her (I mean, your nap times and wake windows were precise and to the minute -- she did the arithmetic SO fast in her head, jeez), but also, she did not suffer mistakes easily.
Baba and I had to tell her that she did not need to do all this alone, that he was up to the task of taking on the mantle of how-things-are-done-around-here, and we thanked her for her service. Since then, she has been way more friendly, and even flies away for lengths of time to do what eagles do during playtime.
So aha!: in order to get to the light I..
- shared my feelings, realized not alone
- accepted / released Elsinore
- leaned on your grandparents way more for support
- stopped trying to do All The Things during your naps, slept, wore my robe religiously until 10am
- listened to podcasts about non-baby things during our walks, felt like human being
- and honestly, you started sleeping a bit longer in the night KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD
We went on another trip, this time to the Sunshine Coast, and we forgot to make ferry reservations again and our car was packed to the brim, and while it was nice to get out, it was still tiring, and I'm proud of us for even trying.
Pictures or it didn't happen:
There have been milestones every week since you turned 6 months. It has been so, so so so fun. I think this is why people continue to make babies. This part has been the best.
First ride in big kid stroller! (clearly you love it and DON'T cry everytime we put you in)
First swing ride!
First successful night, and then nights of not being the oldest baby still swaddled! You are a zipadee starfish now!
First Mother's day! First Father's day!
First time CRAWLING FORWARDS! (lord help us)
I really never thought I would love you as much as I love your dad (is that weird to admit? I just really like him a lot), but you REALLY give him a run for his money. I could watch you eat mashed bananas forever. I could count each of your toes while you laugh because it's so funny and our inside joke, foreverever. I could watch you pull out blades of grass with a deep delight, forevereverever.
This is what they mean when they say that you'll want to freeze time one day, and not want your baby to get older. A few months ago, I honestly would aggressively roll my eyes when I heard anyone say that because I wanted time to speed the F up. So you could sleep longer, cry less. So you could tell me what you needed, or you could become a teenager (my favourite age category of humans).
I think that's good, this wistfulness. I think it means I love you and I am happy.
I am happy.
I love you.
Forever and ever,