I had included this quote in my recent update post, but decided it edit that one for length and give this its own post. From the book, The Blue Jay’s Dance: Growing, bearing, mothering, or fathering, supporting, and at last letting go…are powerful and mundane creative acts that rapturously suck up whole chunks of life. –Louise Erdrich
I went to a retreat yesterday and one of my friends said of her own baby that, “I am his everything.” That is an excellent description of that mother-baby unity that I touched on in my last post. With Alaina right now, I am everything she needs. I am her habitat. I am her gauge for the world around her and also for her own self—I’ve pointed out to the boys before how if she gets startled and her arms go out, she immediately searches for my eyes, looking for my signal (calmness) that everything is fine and the startle is unnecessary. She uses me and my responses to her to understand the world (and herself). If she gets fussy when someone else is holding her, as soon as I take her back, she rides along happily peeking over my shoulder—balance of her world restored. Her eyes follow me when I am walking around. I feel like I have savored all of my babies, but I feel more intensely aware this time around how short this time period is—this time of complete symbiosis and dependence. I also remember feeling more confused by my first baby and I remember worrying and worrying about, “what if he cries?” I think I thought he might cry and I’d never be able to calm him back down or something? I’m not really sure what that was about, but I remember feeling like crying = bad mother. With Alaina, I am 100% confident that she will not keep crying (duh). I mentioned before that she doesn’t cry much, but last night she had a fussy spell after our second day in a row being away from home all day, and I had no doubt at all that her trust in me to care for her would calm the fussy (and it did). Oh, and, she also laughed at me for the first time last night! It is amazing to be someone’s whole world and it just feels extra special this time around. This morning when I was playing with her and she was smiling with her whole body (love that), I felt like our connection is so pure and basic that it feels almost holy. I have to confess that she makes me feel like having another baby—how can I not do this again?! I’m still pretty certain we won’t have any more children, but I surprise myself by frequent thoughts about maybe ONE more…
My boys still think I’m pretty awesome and prefer being with me to pretty much anything else (they do adore their grandpa and he is their most fun person to hang out with), but they really like me a whole bunch and I still have the power to make their worlds “right” as well. I enjoy their company and their wild, funny, enthusiastic, creative, complicated personalities and I feel like they are the treasures of my heart. I also feel like my love for them is deeper in a way (or more developed, maybe?) than it was when they were babies, because we are so invested in each other. I know them so well and we’ve had so much life together, I can’t imagine not having them. I can still remember not having Alaina and I can remember how I thought I may never get to have another baby ever again and I’m really enjoying this very uncomplicated, unconditional, sweet, sacred love of and for a little baby again.
I am currently reading and very much enjoying a book called She Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World and the author critiques the foundations of modern philosophy as being based on independence from others as the goal/highest state as well as critiquing spiritual traditions that see attachment as a flaw and a state to be transcended (the book is based on process philosophy instead). She describes an anecdote how a fellow student wrote a paper making a case for “the existence of other minds” and no one else in her class other than her seemed to find it bizarre. She discusses Descartes and his “I think, therefore I am” conclusion as inherently flawed saying that before Descartes could articulate this thought, “he reached out his hand for his mother.” It is relationship, not thought that forms our basis for life and our experience of reality.
I’m getting ready to start teaching in-seat again at the end of this week. I’m getting nervous about it, because we’re not really ready for separation yet, even for short times. The class is 5 hours and since I’m the teacher, I can give breaks when I need to. My husband is going to stay in town with all the kids—I know this sounds slightly crazy, but I have to know she can get to me if she needs me AND we also always have a Wal-Mart list, so he’s going to do that each week (the boys love to go to WM with him, because he has a tendency to say yes to new toys, candy, and weird food for dinner). The class only lasts 8 weeks and one week is a midterm and one a final, which usually means dismissal a bit early those nights. I guess it is a little strange to be worried about it, because many mothers go back to work when their babies are 6 weeks old and for 40 hours at a time. I’m getting all concerned about only working 5 hours once a week! (with a baby lurking in the parking lot with my husband!) But, still, it is on my mind…a LOT.
I’m going to remain on leave from teaching birth classes and I’m also strongly considering not resuming breastfeeding support group meetings—just stick with phone/email help and no in-person group for a while. I do have another project brewing, but I’m not going to write about it until I know if it is going to work out or not!
I so love that newborn – early baby stage, where i am the everything.
I was the same with my 3rd, much calmer and TREASURED the days. I still do and he is 5. Just knowing he was probably my last made it so much easier and more special.
Good luck going back to work!
Love this! I just wish all mother’s, no ALL humans, would understand this. It’s not a crib, car seat, swing or even a house that is our babies habitats (love your phrase maternal nest with the gorgeous picture) but it is us that they crave, need and search. I love watching Everett search for me. They do the eye search at such a young age too, don’t they!? Ricky points it out and observes it all the time. I was pained yesterday on the way home when he cried for the last 10 min of the ride. I reached back and he gripped my finger in sorrow and I kept feeling sooo bad and like he was searching for me! It seems like going some place is easy, going home is not for him. Driving home from the retreat I had to stop twice to nurse/clam him.
Just one more baby …is a slippery slope LOL 😉 Just look at me.
Seriously though my dad says lots of people wish they would have had one more child, no one wishes they wouldn’t have. 😀 I love that he said that!
Funny because just hours before I read this post of yours I was laying in bed thinking about your kids’ age differences. I wondered if you had such temptation to have just one more. Another baby aligned more with Alana’s age would be very similar to how your parents spaced their kids. 2 and 2 right? 🙂
So far, I really enjoy the age difference because I feel like Z being almost 5 really allows me to fully enjoy A as a baby, without feeling torn between needs the way I felt when L was little and Z was born. So, if I do have another one, I think I’d want another semi-big space for that reason, BUT then I also want a smaller space for the playing together reason–which is SO incredibly irreplaceable and fun (for them, and for me to watch). I don’t know!
The car seat thing is so hard–I always think about how we are so quick to meet their needs at all other times and then in the car seat they are “abandoned” for no reason that they can discern. It must be so confusing for them. 😦 I feel pretty lucky so far with our car trip experiences–we haven’t gone anywhere very far away.