A Beautiful Wreck
"I want everything – love, adventure, intimacy, work." ~ Virgina Woolf
We drove up on the parkway over the weekend, and it was everything. Sometimes I wonder if I ever have to live somewhere that doesn't have leaves the color of something caught fire in October and November, I surely will wilt away. How else can we know what we feel like on the inside except for this time of year, coffee and lemons and the taste of a ripe pomegranate, swimming (with or without clothes ) in the ocean, and that first dazzle of fireflies when they break out of hiding in June?
Anyway, I feel like I'm in the thick of something being a mom right now. For the hundredth or thousandth time, I realized that I have no idea what I'm doing being a parent much of the time. Evie is such a big, bold piece of my life now, and yet I feel like I'm still constantly clinging the idea of of myself as just Moriah, and wanting to find my way back to myself. I both can not wait to take a break from her, and yet I miss her sometimes as soon as she walks out the door. Which is about the same way I feel about myself. I want to find myself, see myself, BE MYSELF, and I also just want surrender fully to being Evie's mom. I don't think just being Moriah is ever really possible again. I've grieved the loss of my old self many times already these past two and a half years. I know the idea is to integrate all of these sides of myself into one luminous me, but I still don't exactly know how. And yet, I feel committed to both the paths, being a mom, and being myself, even if it's super clumsy and awkward. Even if I feel like a wreck.
There is literally so much of being a parent that is uncharted territory, that is completely insane and out of bounds, and is in constant flux and in motion. It's not just winging it — it's like trying to fly the super jet while you are actually building it, and hoping the whole thing doesn't explode or crash into oblivion. Every simple, uncomplicated task can turn into a full blown hurricane, or some kind of hostage negotiation. I am being a little dramatic, OK. Because there really are warm, snuggly, over-the-moon with sweetness times, and a whole lot of them. It doesn't get better than the oxytocin-fueled love bombs that come with having a baby. They charge this whole crazy ship. But the day-to-dayness of parenting, the real life-ness of it — whoa. It will leave you flat sometimes.
Just breakfast and getting dressed can be an epic experience (by experience I mean a battle) of letting her decide what she wants to wear, or what she wants to eat. It is also so cool that she knows what she wants. She can actually make decisions (not always rational, but decisions they are). She likes what she likes! Amazing that I have a PERSON in my life— not just a baby anymore. Yay. But it's complicated. Like, she just wants to eat carrots and cookies this morning, and does that count for breakfast, I find myself wondering? All while trying to pull myself together as well. Can I just get away with leggings and and T-shirt again? When is the last time anyone in this house showered? Never mind, she's standing on a chair and reaching for a kitchen knife. Great, way to go, mama. And she just wants to wear that Panda bear sweatshirt she's had on for the last 3 days, which is sort of filthy but maybe if I just use wipes to get out the avocado and yogurt stains, maybe no one will notice? Do we have any diapers, please god and why isn't she potty-trained yet. OK, it's cool. At least she's happy, so I don't really care what she wears, but then I do kind of care because she has so many cute clothes that she is going to out grow tomorrow if we don't wear them now.
Please don't hit me. Don't ride Lola: she's a dog, not a pony. And it's pouring out and thirty-five degrees, so can we at least put on some pants? Evie, I'm not asking you anymore. I'm telling you. Do you need my help? And carrots and cookies are like a good snack, but maybe we should eat something with protein? Except now all she wants is milk, and we need to go, so screw it, milk it is, hopefully your grandmother will actually feed you breakfast because I don't even care at this point. Great, the pants are on. But then, what about the shoes.
As I heard someone say recently, it all falls apart at the shoes. It really does. (or in this case below, the gloves.)
Evie is also, shall I say, in a bit of an assertive phase. She wants what she wants, and is very determined to do it, but sometimes that involves pushing other kids, or grabbing the animals by the tail (or trying to ride them), or hitting me in the face to get her point across. Ok, I see you Evie. I am paying attention. I am trying. The "terrible twos" are really cute and quaint when you hear about them in your pre-kid life, but now that it's actually happening, I actually can't believe any of our parents got out of toddler-hood alive.
It's really tempting to just start raising my voice to meet her energy, or put her in time-out, or just freak out. No one likes to see their kid push another kid — it is actually terrifying and very easy to take personally. I had a good conversation with someone the other day which was really helpful though. That anger and aggression are a really natural part of being a person, being a mammal — being essentially an animal with a big brain and thumbs. Look at the way dogs greet each other: they sometimes spar it out for a minute before we see those tails wagging and everyone is kosher. But when we see our kids doing this, especially little girls acting out, it is quite tempting to want to completely nip it in the bud, tell them to stop, and demand that it won't happen again ( but of course become exasperated when it does happen, again). So, I've been working on giving her options when she starts to get really physical with me. Like, she can squeeze my hand, or throw her stuffed animals, but she can't punch or hit us. We can wrestle, or go jump on the trampoline, or even practice yelling for a while. We can dance. We can roughhouse. It's actually kind of amazing and satisfying to watch her engage with this energy, which is so critical in our very human lives. It's power, it's aggression, it's being in our bodies. It's the way we all communicate with each other, especially when we can't talk yet (and sometimes there really are no words anyway. It's just our bodies and hearts in the room, you know? ) It's using our strength, and seeing how we can be witnessed.
It also means there is just always a lot of energy in the the room, and it also changes on a dime. So much of parenting is trying to reign in the chaos, keep it all together, keep everyone safe, but at the same time, let the horses run wild. It's a constant dance with her, and myself. Oh, and then when we throw her papa into the mix... that's a whole other thing. She did say though, on the drive back from the parkway that, "the mountains look beautiful, mama." Which of course, I melted and swooned and had another, "I want to have SO MANY BABIES" moment. (So far, it's just a moment and I like having one kid!)
And I love the chaos at times, too. I love getting down in the dirt. I both love the sparing and the cuddles. Especially when I can really go there with her. It really does mean trashing the house, and letting it all sort of fall a part for while, and then picking up the pieces after she goes to bed, covered with glue sticks and banana. It's certainly a very alive time in my life, and it's a total mess. I want to say beautiful a mess, but let's face it, it really is just a big ol' mess, and I'm ready for a bath, and a tons of bad TV at the end of the day. But I'm too tired, so I'll just sleep on it. Sleep on the beautiful wreck we've made, and try again tomorrow.