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.)