January 15, 2011

Happy New Year...

So, I am just now reluctantly acknowledging that we are two, almost three, full weeks into a new year.

One thing that can unleash incredibly depths of anxiety in me is allowing a major milestone or heck, even a common milestone such as the passing of a year, to go by without stopping to acknowledge it and honor it in some way. I like to have my time to sit with it, soak it in, and gather what meaning I can before sending it on its way.

I haven't had time to do anything close to that for a while now and it is keeping me up at night, so here I am trying to muddle through it all at 2:30 a.m.

I am immediately brought to tears when I think of the year that has passed.

It has been, without a doubt, by far the best year of my entire life. I am sorry to see 2010 come to and end. It has been such a good year to me. To us.

As the year began, our family was blindly feeling our way through the fog that had been months of sleepless nights, my crippling post-partum depression, and multiple stressful events and illnesses. We were just beginning to experience the fruit of the work we had started doing with Zane to help him learn to finally finally finally sleep through the night on his own. As a result, I was also beginning to experience the benefit of getting regular normal stretches of sleep at night. I was beginning to emerge from my depression and like a damp-winged butterfly struggling to free itself from the confines of its cocoon, I was beginning to feel my strength return.

There was much newness and tender tentative hope for the year to come. And oh how those hopes would be met, and then some.

There were so many joyful moments, so many adventures. Trips to the zoo, the museum. Going to parades together. Playing at playgrounds. Farmer's Markets, Hot Springs, Swimming Pools, Splash Parks, Yoga, Music, Storytime. Breakfasts out as a family, happy dinners together as a family. Morning walks, evenings spent in the backyard. House guests, playdates, traveling. The best vacation of our lives that also just happened to be a really simple one. Discovering caves, playing in rivers, going on hikes. Riding on trains, rolling in leaves, sledding in freshly fallen snow. Lots of cooking and laughing and every once in a while stopping to catch our breaths to exclaim to one another that we were having "the best year of our lives".

We soaked up as much as we could get of this year. We grabbed our life and we lived in it fully alive and aware. Maybe in some ways for the first time ever.

I reunited with a precious friend from my teenage years, who has quickly become a staple and a gift in our lives. My husband's sister came to live with us for four months, and taught us how to be a family in bigger and brighter ways. I had the opportunity to support and celebrate my sister as she finally realized her dream of becoming a mother in a bigger way that any of us could have anticipated. We were loved by so many amazing friends some who have walked with us for years, some who are just recently coming into our lives.

I did a lot of hard work in therapy, and found myself free from burdens I had carried for far far too long. We made big decisions together, drunk on our progress and momentum.

One of those big decisions was to move. We spent the last several weeks moving from the home that my husband owned when we married. The first home that was ever truly mine. The home where we learned to be husband and wife, where we struggled through years of trying to conceive a child, the home where we first found out we would be parents, the home where I labored for hours before finally heading to the hospital, the house we brought our son home to, the home he has known all of his two years, the home he took his first steps in, the home where we became a family.

This decision means we have started off 2011 in a new place, both literally and figuratively. We have so much hope for this new place, this new beginning. We made this decision in part to allow us even more of what we loved of the year that has passed. Only time, and effort on our part, will tell if our hopes will be met.

I am someone who prepares for the worst. I hope for the best but can't help but prepare for when things go awry as I am convinced they will. What goes up must come down and all that. After such a good, such a full, such a nourishing and freeing year, it is difficult to hope for more. It feels greedy.

But what choice do I have? So here we go....jumping head first into another year. With simple but big juicy hopes and dreams: to share even more laughter, to welcome friends and family with open arms, to continue to grow, even when it is difficult, and experience greater freedom and joy, to rest, to give generously, to love much, and to live fully and authentically this amazing life we have been given.

I hope the same for each and every one of you.

Happy New Year.

November 19, 2010

The post I would've written if I could have....

Sometimes I read something written by another blogger that feels like a page out of my own journal (although better written). This is one of those:

There's more I would like to add...but I am living in a bit of a tornado right now, in the meantime, I would love to hear how it strikes you?

October 05, 2010

Abundant Joy

I was walking through the zoo (yes, we spend A LOT of time at the zoo) and thinking about how happy I feel, and really on a deep soulful level have felt for a while now. It feels like this year has been about fully living in and embracing my life and role as mother, and in turn has helped me fully come alive in ways I struggled to before. I feel like these days my default is joy. I spent so many years trying to get here, trying to understand my fear of joy, my reluctance to embrace it....and here I am.

I was trying to deconstruct it in my head, (because of course I was!) looking for all the contributing factors. And there are a lot.

Being a mother has turned out to be the single most rewarding and fulfilling and challenging role and adventure I have ever taken on. It has called me to greater heights and greater depths than I knew I was capable of feeling and enduring. I love being Zane's mom, LOVE it.

There is also the surprising fact that I love being a "stay-at-home-mom", which I really wasn't sure I would. Sure, there are days I am counting each minute till my partner gets home and I can get some down time, but overall? Love it. I love filling our days, our weeks, finding the balance that makes each day enjoyable and nourishing for us both. I love how much I am called to be in the moment and responsive: to my son, my own needs, the seasons, etc...

I also love being a "homemaker", making home a place of peace, nourishment, love, enjoyment, for our family. I find so much purpose in making space for us as a family, in providing for us through shared experiences, healthy delicious meals, time together, a peaceful safe clean house. The more peace I find within, the more peace I want to create without.

And of course, there is the undeniable contribution of therapy. I have seen the same gifted therapist for over a year now and have experienced greater change and greater freedom within than I have in any other therapeutic relationship or experience. I entered therapy with a few goals, one of them being the freedom to truly enjoy and embrace this incredible life I am so lucky to be living. I can say without a doubt, we have been greatly successful in this.

My therapist and I are in the process of assessing where we go from here....we are kind of in a place right now where it makes sense for me to stop seeing her so often, at least for a while. And this has me nervous. Without that place, that relationship, held out for me, consistently to come and find myself within, will I get lost? Will I forget this joy? It's scary. I know I can always go back. I know there WILL be more stuff, more cobwebs that need clearing, more wounds that need healing, more patterns that need undoing. I know that in all likelihood this is just a "break", not a "break-up". But still, it scares me.

So, today, when I walked through the zoo, pondering all these things, thinking about how happy I am and have been, how almost every day there is at least one moment when I want to pinch myself to make sure this is really MY life, I am really here (because, happiness has not always come so easily to me), it was a sweet little gift to look down at the base of the statue of mama and baby hippo that Z loves climbing on at the zoo and see the words "Abundant Joy".

I was reminded of all the reasons I have to be joyful in my life and how many of them are within me, deeper than circumstances, deeper than fear.

I hold abundant joy within me.

There will be struggles, there will be darkness, life will be hard at times. But I know now that this capacity for abundant joy is within me. I may need help from time to time to access it, but it is a part of me now that cannot be taken away. And I never ever thought I would say that.

And here is one of the greatest reminders of joy I know of:

September 09, 2010

One of THOSE days

Today was one of those days. You know the ones: you are staring at the clock willing each hour to pass a little more quickly, you are just lying down to rest when your child wakes up an hour early from his nap, you look for something to fill the two hours before dinner that will require as little energy from you as possible, but will hopefully wear out your overtired little one and make bed time a little smoother tonight.

We've been sick around these parts with a deep hacking cough that is persistent for weeks. I have made immune-ass-kicking-homemade chicken soup to fortify us all, and yesterday picked up a few herbal remedies and vitamins we were out of and a couple essential oils for chest rubs and steams and baths. Z and Mr. Spicy are responding well, but I am still in the trenches.

It doesn't help that Z getting sick means he has only slept solidly through the night maybe once in the last week, and is now taking 1-2 hr naps instead of the 3 hour naps I was getting so comfy with. It also doesn't help that his molars are planning to present themselves soon and he has recently been experiencing a bit of separation anxiety.

It also doesn't help that we recently lost our beloved dog, had house guests for the weekend, and had my sister-in-law, who has been living with us and greatly brightening our lives and our home for the last 4 months, move out into her own place.

I am beat.

So, this morning, when the power suddenly went out, I jumped on my husband's suggestion that Z & I go out to breakfast at one of our favorite spots, choosing not to inform him that I could make a perfectly healthy breakfast for us both without any power. And breakfast was delightful. We people-watched, we colored, we fed each other delicious gluten-free pancakes. But by the end I was exhausted and just wanted to go home and curl up in bed.

Mercifully, Z fell asleep on the way home, stayed asleep through diaper changing, and went down for a nap. Ah! Rest for me! But wait....what is that feeling? Oh yes, it is the loads of caffeine from the coffee I just downed at breakfast, coursing through my veins. Sigh.

So, I did some busy-work, caught up on emails, chatted with a friend, and finally was ready to lie down when - yep! The little guy was wide awake and calling for me. I took a deep breath, downed a little more caffeine, took a minute and then headed up to get him.

I needed an afternoon activity that would carry us through, with as little required of me as possible (I just couldn't manage much at that point), and as much stimulus for Z as possible, without directly exposing him to other kids. (sometimes sharing isn't nice) The zoo it was!

We wandered through the zoo, and I picked up a little plastic set of African animals to further engage Zane. The cashier informed us that the new baby orangutan was out with her mother in the enclosure for the first time. Apparently the mother had been pretty protective of sharing her baby with the world before now, understandably.

We arrived at the orangutan area to see the mama orangutan, with tiny baby clutching tightly to the hair on her shoulder, climbing up into a tree for a snack. Dad was there too, and he was clearly annoyed by all the attention they were suddenly getting, shielding his face as he moved from hammock to rock, like a celebrity avoiding the paparazzi. There were only 3 of us there at that time, but I am sure they'd had a pretty steady stream coming all day. Mama swung from trunk to branch, baby sticking to her like velcro. At one point, she stopped to eat, and her little one moved to put her face next to Mom's. Mama showed baby what she was eating and tilted her head ever so slightly to rub her face against her baby, like I have done with Zane and a million mothers before me have done, a million times before.

I was entranced by the two of them, moving as one, clearly so bonded, mother clearly so protective, so human. I was reminded of Zane's early months where I literally wore him, held him, slept next to him, constantly.

Later, as we purchased tickets for the train and carousel, the cashier (a young woman, maybe in her early twenties, who we are by now pretty familiar with) asked if we had seen the baby orangutan. I told her we had and marveled aloud at what a sweet mama the orangutan was.

"Well", she said, "she had a hard time at first. She's a first time mom. In the beginning, when her baby would cry and cry she would like take a deep breath and put her in this big bucket and walk away for awhile. She was pretty overwhelmed at first."

"Wow," I replied, "good for her for taking a break! It's hard being a first time mom!"

"Well, yeah...," she continued, "I mean, I am sure she likes her baby and all...it was just hard at first I guess. She's doing great now though, super protective. The tiger mom (who had quadruplet tiger cubs recently), now SHE'S exhausted. She is so tired, poor thing."

I walked away with this whole new insight into this mama and baby I had just been admiring minutes before. Wow. Motherhood is hard. It just is. Even now, in one of the happiest seasons of my life and my time as a mother, I find myself in one of those days. And this mama tiger, and this mama orangutan, they struggle too.

And I am pretty sure they didn't have to make dinner tonight, aren't worried about clean underwear, and don't have bills or schedules to worry about.

I have been chewing on this all evening, trying to find the right words to describe the light bulb moment I had there, talking with this woman (who I am pretty darn sure is not a mom).

I think it has something to do with the struggle being a natural part of it. Some struggle more, some less...but it's there. I think the times I have been weary, depressed, or just having a regular old hard day, one of the hardest parts for me is thinking that somehow I should be able to weather these days easier, I should be able to do more, be more, feel more, and all with a smile, always. And while in the last many months, more often than not I am easily smiling and laughing and just soaking up the joy of motherhood through many a day, some days I am not. On an intellectual level I know that that's ok. I would tell anyone else that it was ok, normal, natural. But some times I still get caught in that trap of should and it is hard to find my way out. There is always someone who seems to do it with more ease, more grace, more joy. Hell, I've probably been that person for someone out there too (if so, I am so sorry! I have those days too...obviously).

I think also, it reminds me of the period when most days were those days. When lack of sleep, and various other factors combined and I found myself deeply depressed. For months. It reminds me of those nights when I had to hand over my crying, sleepless baby to my husband for fear of hurting myself, or even sometimes god-forbid, my beautiful son. It reminds me of the guilt I felt for having to do that, like I was broken, like I was a bad mother. It reminds me that even though I came through that time, even though I got help, I got better, my son started sleeping, and the sun rose again, and my joy returned - that part of my story as a mom is still very compartmentalized and hidden away from my story as a whole.

Sure, I will readily relate to someone the quick version "Oh my son stopped sleeping at 6 months, and I developed postpartum depression and then he started sleeping at 12 months and I got better..." but it is hard for me to integrate it fully into my story, as a woman, and a mother. I want to hold it out, separate, a parenthesis, a foot note.

In this short interaction I was confronted with this animal mother's story, the whole of it up to this point: putting her baby in a bucket and stepping away when she felt overwhelmed (which I find very admirable on her part, btw), feeling deeply protective and guarding her baby and her time with her, to stepping out cautiously into the world with her little one, still protective, but much more comfortable in her role as "Mama".

I don't know it just hit me. I felt validated. I felt so much. I felt a kindred spirit with these animal mamas and I felt a lot better about my own rough day, my own exhaustion, my own "bucket" moments. I felt a tenderness for the orangutan and the tiger that allowed me to feel a tenderness for myself. I also felt so much tenderness for all of you, all my friends, all the bloggers, all the women I have never even met who have struggled through their own bucket moments, their own "those days", and worse. I wanted to shout to the world, "Look, it's totally natural! Motherhood is hard work! We fall down sometimes, we get overwhelmed, we need a break, we need help. It is normal, and it is ok!"

I know, this is not news to many of you, and it really shouldn't be news to me...but today it was.

And I am grateful for it.

September 07, 2010

good-bye, Zebu

Last Friday we said good-bye to our beloved, seven year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Zebu.

He was the first being we co-parented together all the way, from his sweet puppy-start to his much-to-soon end.

He was diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant cancer in January, and given 6 months to live. In many ways that diagnosis was a gift. We knew what was coming, we knew what to expect, we were able to be more intentional and present with him in his last months with us. We didn't always do it perfectly, but I am grateful for that time. We spoiled him, we made him as comfortable as we could, and when he reached a point that the pain and the illness became too much, we knew, and we were able to plan his passing.

We called our doctor of the last 10+ years. The same doctor who gave Zebu his puppyhood vaccinations, the same doctor who neutered him and helped him through various illnesses. He came to our home. We held Zebu in our arms, on his favorite bed, his head laying on my husband's lap. We told him it was ok to go, we told him we loved him, we thanked him, and we peacefully let him go. He went quickly, like a deep sigh of relief.

I thought there would be sobbing, but there were only quiet tears from us both. I know that this is something that will hit us in waves, creeping up on us in unexpected ways. Like today when I prepared to go for a bike ride with Zane and realized there was no petulant pup, crowding us at the door begging to come along.

The house is quiet. But I still feel him here, as I did with Sativa after she passed last year.

He was so strong and so brave at the end. There was always so much more going on for him than he let on. I know I will be a better mother in many ways for having loved him and being loved by him. He was our lion hunter, who trembled at the sound of a motorcycle. He was our 90lb lap dog and our ferocious protector. He was our sweet boy.

We love you Zebu, we miss you. We hope you are somewhere warm, running along the water's edge with Sativa and that there will always be plenty of soft fluffy beds for you at the end of the day.

And, I am sorry for that time we made you wear the princess crown. We couldn't resist. I hope you are laughing about it now.

August 26, 2010


I lift the corner of the sheet I have thrown over the dining room table, a wall for a fort, for a private tent, a secret hideaway. I pass him a small bowl holding two graham crackers and a cup filled with juice. He very carefully takes both from me and smiles.

I lower the wall again, turning to get back to my chores, my thousand obligations.


His head pops around the corner, he is walking towards me, carefully balancing his bowl of graham crackers in both hands.


"What honey?"

"Mama", he holds the bowl out to me.

"No, honey, those are for you. Those are Zane's."


"Here, let me carry them so they don't spill"


He grabs my fingers and leads me back to his tent. We take our seats inside.

He picks up a single cracker and places it in my hand. He looks right in my eyes.

I am undone.

I break the cracker in two, handing him the other half and we silently take turns feeding each other bites.

He then picks up his juice and offers it to me.


I take my sip and offer it back to him.

"Thank you, Zane. Thank you."

August 02, 2010

18 months - The Z files

My heart and mind are full and overflowing. How do I write about this boy, this child, without seeming trite and cliche?

He rocks our world daily. He is full of light, full of laughter, full of life. He is my greatest joy and greatest love. He is a mystery to me, and someone I know like my own skin.

The last six months have been monumental in terms of Zane's development, in terms of my development as his mother. This is by far the most fun I have ever had, and the hardest work I have ever done. Wow.

Six months ago he was crawling, and walking along furniture, standing, but not ready yet to venture out on his own two feet. Three months ago he began walking across the room. Today, he runs full speed through the house, and runs out from his hiding places when we wonder aloud, "Where is Zane?".

Six months ago he first began to cradle baby dolls and offer bottles to his newborn cousin. Today he concocts gourmet meals at his sandbox, asking for spoons to stir his various creations and then offers tastes to me and his "babies", announcing "Yum, Yum, Yum!".

At Christmas time we greeted our tree each morning and thanked her. Today he hugs any tree he can get his arms around and stops to smell the flowers as often as he can.

He has this incredibly mischievous side to him, deliberately "hiding" quietly just out of our view and then popping out in breath-stealing laughter as we go looking for him, looking at us and laughing a moment before he initiates some forbidden behavior.

He is intensely physical, hugging with his whole body, asking to be thrown onto the bed again and again, throwing his entire body on the floor, biting, or slamming his head into the hardest surface within reach when he is angry or frustrated.

He is sweetly sensitive, becoming upset when someone else is injured, whether in real life or on television, or in the painted image on one of his toys or in his books; kissing his "babies" when they fall, lifting my shirt to kiss my gall bladder scars every day, tenderly pointing and saying "Owwww" as he does so.

He becomes quickly fascinated by anything he imagines might need fixing or might be able to be dismantled. He reaches for nuts, bolts, screws, and tries with all his might to manipulate them, even when they happen to be holding in place the safety glass between him and the very large and ferocious lions at the zoo. You can almost see his mind working as he approaches something, such as his "bubble train", and turns it over in his hands, removing what he can, trying to understand how it works, how it all fits together. His focus and his concentration are amazing to behold.

He has recently become increasingly aware of his appearance, stopping to admire himself and frankly, sometimes make out with himself, in mirrors. He has favorite shirts (we have dubbed them "super cool dude shirts") that he literally struts around the house in. He picks out his outfits, refuses certain clothing items and refuses to allow us to remove others. Of course we have begun manipulating this to convince him that hats that protect him from the sun are indeed "super cool dude" items as well.

He is both incredibly independent and incredibly affectionate, making for this constant cycle of his stepping away to explore and do things for himself followed by his running wildly back to me for a full body hug and kiss and cuddle. It seems at times neither of us can get quite enough of the other. But it is certainly I who is the more love-sick one, having trouble walking away and leaving him, even when it is for my own good. He, on the other hand, fully secure, delights in his one-on-one time with Daddy, his auntie, or his favorite babysitter. He knows I will return, he knows he is loved. I am so grateful for that.

Speaking of Daddy, his adoration for my husband is legendary. He somehow knows exactly when to start expecting his father's return and stands on the couch, spreads the curtains and looks eagerly down the street while singing "Daddy, Daddeeeeeeeeeee, Daddddddddy!" over and over and over. He points out things throughout the day that remind him of his dad and sometimes just sits singing "Daddy" over and over to himself. I won't lie, I have been a little jealous at times over this devotion. But mostly I am just so grateful that I chose such a phenomenal man to have a child with. I love that Zane has this connection with his dad, something they have created together, it is a gift that unfolds before me daily.

There is a lullaby I have been singing to Zane since before he was born. It is the song of a mother singing to her son and at one point she sings, "And sometimes I will ask the moon where it smiled upon you last and shake my head and laugh and say, 'It all went by so fast'..." Never did those words penetrate my heart like they do now. It is already going by so fast, so very fast. I want to hold each day and pin it down in a book, but the days are quick and fleeting, and for every moment I have the presence of mind to remember, there are a thousand I have forgotten.

What a gift and what a torture. To love this person unfolding before me with such fullness and such completeness, knowing his growing means changing, means a thousand new discoveries and a thousand more good-byes.

There is one thought I have every single day and that is how incredibly fortunate I am to be here. I feel as though the whole of my life has led me here, and I cannot stop saying "Thank You".

Thank you.

June 17, 2010

Fortunate at 4 a.m.

Last Friday, I had my gall bladder removed. Which, took me off of Mama-duty for a good 24-48 hrs. Which, of course, coincided with Zane's developmentally appropriate peak in separation anxiety. While he loved his time with "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!", he obviously was a bit shaken by my sudden inability to care for him in the ways he is used to. Also? I am pretty sure he's teething again.

As a result, we've been experiencing some sleepless nights again around these parts. Mr. Spicy has been a trooper in handling most of the middle-of-the-night-omg-why-won't-you-go-back-to-sleep wakings, but last night, as I heard Zane scream each time he tried to lay him back down, I sensed it was time for me to step in. I rocked my little boy as he laid on my chest, singing lullabies and lulling him back to sleep....or so I thought. Each time I stood up and began to move him to his crib, he wrapped his arms around my neck and shook his head "no....no". Finally, I caved and asked if he'd like to come to bed with us. He burrowed his face into my shoulder and nodded emphatically.

Bringing him into bed with us is always a gamble. If he's really sick or in pain he'll settle in quickly and nod off, but otherwise he usually decides it is family party time and demonstrates his unique gift for death-defying acrobatic maneuvers that are sure to get our adrenaline pumping.

Last night, he began by trying to negotiate for "num nums" which I denied. He whimpered a bit, complained to his daddy, and then eventually threw himself cross-ways against my chest, burying his nose in my arm pit as I stroked his back, and he drifted off to sleep.

As I lay there, pinned beneath my sweaty, heavy, sweet, boy, I contemplated the situation. It was 4:30 a.m., and I had been up since 3. I was expecting to feel exasperation, frustration, failure. Instead, I realized what I felt in that moment was overwhelming gratitude, and it surprised me. I was tired, in pain, and lying with a toddler's nose wedged into my armpit at a crazy hour, and what I felt most was gratitude.

I felt thankful that the reason I was awake, the weight upon my chest, was this incredible boy, MY little boy. A boy I longed for for so very long. I was filled with the beauty of this boy, MY boy, who simply wanted ME, his mother - and wanted to be so close to me that he fell asleep with his nose greedily inhaling the scent of me, his mama. Grateful that it was my scent that comforted him, my heartbeat accompanying his dreams.

"I am so incredibly unbelievably fortunate", I thought.

Later, I was able to slowly roll him over to the space between my husband and I. Our family, all in bed together, my husband and son sleeping. Breathtaking.

It is the moments like this, the ones that too often pass in a blink and are forgotten, moments in which I feel so fully a mother, and so fully in love with this boy, and the family he has made of us, these moments I want to hold onto, be able to conjure up on those days when I feel like I am failing everyone, or those days when it all seems to be going so very very fast....

I am so very fortunate. So very very fortunate.

June 07, 2010

Wanted: Road map from Fear to Freedom

I read this blog post today, on being fearless in youth and somehow losing that fearlessness as you mature and learn about being wounded and judged and it just resonated with me so loudly, it was as if somehow she knew just what I was feeling today.

I was the girl who went off on adventures, often dangerous adventures, all alone, all summer long. I was the girl who convinced three other girls in 5th grade to get on stage with me to sing/ lip-sync to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" even though I had not a lick of singing talent at the time. I was the girl who stood in front of my highschool classmates and gave speeches about social prejudices and who got into heated debates during Spanish class about gay rights. I moved across the country at 19, all alone, with maybe $400 in my pocket, to a big city I had never visited and didn't know anyone in. I proceeded to join a band, perform my poetry on stage, spilling my heart and anger out for anyone who would listen. In my twenties, I took week long camping trips alone, with my dog. I fell in love or lust with wild abandon, and fell into friendships with the same passion and devotion.

In the last ten years or so, something changed.....

As The Butterfly states so eloquently:

"Somewhere along the line, and I can’t pinpoint when, I lost my fearlessness. ... I started being afraid of everything, and not just fear for myself, but also for everyone around me. And the more I think about it, the more I think that my fear of physical danger grew out of my built-up fear of emotional danger.

... I spent a lot of my life putting myself out there emotionally. My physical adventurousness was nothing compared to my emotional adventurousness, but unlike the physical risks I took, my emotional risks usually didn’t work out very well. I was too open, and I got my heart stomped on. A lot. As a result, I stopped taking risks. I wrapped myself up around my heart and protected myself, and some part of me took a look at that and said, “Hey! If you can get your spirit knocked around so many times, it’s only a matter of time before you do something dumb and end up killing yourself.” I stopped taking risks, with my heart and with my person."

I can't pinpoint which exact heartbreak or loss or disappointment led me down this path, I think it was a very gradual process. I have always struggled with deep insecurities, and a deep sense of being different and not good enough. That was part of what made my emotional risks so "risky". I was putting myself out there, even though I often felt terrified inside. Well, and what better way to fill that need for affirmation?

Somehow, the risks became less attractive, the affirmation became more hollow, and I found myself feeling more fearful in places of emotional intimacy and depth. I slowly began to make my world smaller and safer. The less risks, the less relationships, the better. Today I often dream about just running away (with my husband and son of course) and starting from scratch and I can become anxious over simply returning a phone call or going to a party. Heck, half the reason I blog so infrequently these days is because I worry over what someone might judge me for or whether what I have to say is worth writing about.

And just as The Butterfly writes in her blog, I didn't just withdraw and become overly cautious emotionally, I became fearful and overly cautious about anything risky for myself, and for anyone I love. I came to hate the idea that my husband had a motorcycle, even though that was one of the things that attracted me to him to begin with. I have shown major resistance to the idea of my husband learning to kite surf, as I am sure he will get swept out to sea, or into the side of a cliff and die a horrible painful death. I have never cashed in the gift certificate that my husband gave me for tandem sky-diving, even though it used to be on my "life list". I have become hesitant lately even thinking about changing my hairstyle!

Today, I am longing for that fearless girl and woman I used to be. I find myself digging for remnants of her beneath the walls I have built to protect myself and what I hold dear. There is much more to lose now, and I feel more fragile underneath it all. It is not so easy to be fearless, not so easy to risk. I am less certain than ever that I have something worthwhile to offer and I have come through some pretty hard seasons in the last few years that have left their marks. Just as physical scars make the skin less pliable, the emotional scars I carry have left me more rigid, less flexible, less free.

And yet, I have so many reasons to be free, to be happy, to be full. Despite my insecurities, my anxiety, my difficulty connecting at times, I have an amazing husband and son and dear friends who are so worth taking risks for and worth putting my heart out there and when I do, they have shown me that they love me spots and all.

So...how do I find my way back to fearlessness? Or at least "less fearful" and more free? Does being a mother just naturally mean living with more fear?

(p.s. and for those of you thinking "Damn girl, get yourself some therapy"....I have, and I am.)

May 17, 2010

Safe Sling Love

Holy crap it's been a long time since I have posted! Geez.

Well, to ease myself in slowly I am posting a link to another, much more famous, celebublogger, if you will....

I have been really sad reading all the slack that slings and babywearing mamas are getting since the recent recalls. I simply could not imagine Zane's first year without the Maya Wrap, HotSling, and our Ergo. I loved wearing him and would do it again in a heart beat.

Amy Corbett Storch, who authors the blog, Amalah, discusses here the differences between the recalled slings and other slings and the importance of using slings SAFELY, which means wearing the baby up high, in an almost upright position, and always always being able to feel their breathing and see their face at all times.

I love her last paragraph, and feel very similar about our experience using slings:
I publicly praise slings a lot simply because of the convenience and hands-free aspect of them. I could carry Ezra around and nurse him…while fixing myself a sandwich or writing a blog post! Brilliant! But another thing that a really well-designed sling will give you is an INCREDIBLE sense of connection to your baby. And that’s something I really don’t think those over-padded and over-structured baby duffels provided, thus leading to a nightmarish scenario where a baby suffocated while his mother had no idea there was a problem. When Ezra was in our favorite sling (the Rockin’ Baby), the thin fabric allowed me to feel his little warm body and every movement. His head sat up on near my chest and heart, and even though I used the sling for hands-free activities, my hand still cradled his shape or stroked his face and body inside the sling every chance it got. It was not a utilitarian piece of baby transporting equipment, it was a really wonderful bonding tool, and a place where I could truly keep him close and safe and loved.

I especially appreciate some of the comments left as well, such as:

actually, the danger is less the fabric closing over their face than the lack of support – the child gets curled up with his chin pressed against his chest, and his windpipe can collapse, like a kink in a hose. A pouch or sling that holds the baby high and tight is safer, and a carrier that holds the baby upright against your chest, like a ring sling or a mei tai, is even better. All slings can be used unsafely; the problem is that the Slingrider cannot be used safely.
The members of The Babywearer are actually very angry over the whole thing, because Infantino has been warned of the risk of suffocation multiple times since 2006, and have done nothing.

And as so many of the commenters pointed out, it's always a good idea to not only read the instructions and watch the videos that often come with slings to ensure a safe fit, but a baby wearing class or fitting should also be considered. I did attend a baby wearing class offered at a local Mom and baby place and found it really helpful not only in understanding safe baby wearing but also in finding the right product for me.

So that's it. Just wanted to share a little article in defense of slings and using them safely.