Wk20 520 Moments (191-200)

  1. Why do we take the thinking posture?  Instinct.  But how does it help?  Right now mine is only half for thinking, half to prop up my weary head.
  2. I’m generally not as tired as I sound in my blog posts.  I have good energy throughout the day.  It just takes me a bit to get there.
  3. News segment last night about how our phones are making us hunch and causing back pain has me thinking a lot about posture.  I had the thought recently, hey, I don’t hear too much about posture these days, I wonder why….  Phones aren’t the only thing that make me hunch, writing does too.  Especially journal writing.
  4. Partially eaten 65% cacao dark chocolate bar on my desk illuminated by pink light of salt lamp = things that make me happy.
  5. Rumble, rumble of garbage trucks rolling through the neighborhood.
    1. In five short years, our city will no longer have access to a landfill.
  6. Morning songbird; no mixed precipitation as predicted, only rain; grey cast of morning light slowly revealing the backyard.
  7. Faint click from the monitor–the heating duct in Levi’s room.  It does not wake him.  For now.
  8. When Tuesday feels like it should be at least Thursday….
  9. I suddenly just realized that I don’t need to pack a lunch today.  Aramark lunch doesn’t seem worthy of much excitement except in that moment when I have one less thing to do in the always crowded with things to do morning.
  10. We’ve made it past 6am with Levi still asleep–a recent record!–and an early bed last night too.
    1. Everything is temporary anyway.
    2. When the streets are wet, the colors slip into the sky….

Wk19 520 Moments (181-190)

  • The kitchen clock ticks loudly, alternating with pops from the fridge and creaks from the house.
  • I’m on high alert, listening for foot steps, wondering if (when) my writing time will be invaded.
  • Levi woke up to a bad dream, crying for his Mimi.
    • I listen through the monitor to his tears while Didi tries to comfort him.  His voice loud and clear; hers a gentle whisper.
  • My legs are bent and folded against the couch at a tense, uncomfortable angle, rather than take the two seconds to move the large, yellow Bruder tow truck sitting at my feet.
  • Sometimes, even three years in, I have hard time believing that this is my house strewn, as it is, with brightly colored plastic.
    • On the couch in the den where I sit, there are two plastic hamburger patties and two bunny books.
  • Daylight pours in while I write (a rare sight).  A Paris Year sits on my desk seemingly illuminated by the bright morning, making me wish that my journal could be as beautiful a collaged hodgepodge of memories and adventure.
    • There are so many things in my life that I’ve neglected to do because I knew the final product would fall short of the vision in my head.
      • a scrapbook of my now long-ago trip to Ireland being one
  • I am running late today.  I write hurriedly hardly able to read my handwriting (which is difficult to read on a good day).
  • My generalized anxiety is reduced this week only by jigsaw puzzling, hand tickling, and writing.
  • My intention:  to not beat myself up today at all.  To honor what I feel by honoring what I feel.
  • Yesterday’s purchases:  new gazebo for backyard; new lawn mower; organic garden soil; seeds (green beans, broccoli, cucumber, and basil); ready-to-plant seedling pots.  These items represent hope despite the snow-cover on the ground when we woke up in the morning.

Aging Mom Body

I’ve never been someone who has been terribly concerned about my body image.  I’m thankful for this, because I know that it is a matter of concern (for some even obsession) that few women escape.  I believe that, in part, this is due to the fact that I’ve been thin for most of my life (I will come back to the “most” in a moment), although this fact hasn’t always saved women from worrying about their body.  I’m thin due to a combination of factors:  luck, genetics, mostly careful eating, and regular work outs.  I pay close attention to my body and care about it, and over the years I’ve learned what serves it well.  I know how to fuel so that I don’t have extreme dips in energy.  I know that working out is a necessity not just for my body but for my mind.

I hit puberty late, and when I did, I started putting on some weight–particularly around my middle.  This is where we carry our weight on my dad’s side of the family.  We are apples.  The most dangerous body type in terms of heart health.  At first I was proud of my newly protruding pot-belly.  The summer that I turned 18, I would wear boxer shorts that hung low on my hips and tie my shirts up in little knots a few inches above my belly button.  But then, later, I became sensitive about it.  After gaining close to forty pounds in my first year at college (yes, I took the “freshman fifteen” a little too seriously), I didn’t want anyone to put their arm around my mid-section.  I dated a boy, a runner, whose belly was flat and taut.  I would rub my hand over it, admiring it, wishing I could somehow have that belly too.   I was obsessed with the scene in pulp fiction where Fabienne and Butch are lying in bed talking and she brings up the idea of having a pot belly (or “a pot” as she first calls it):

Pot bellies make a man look either
oafish, or like a gorilla. But on a
woman, a pot belly is very sexy. The
rest of you is normal. Normal face,
normal legs, normal hips, normal
ass, but with a big, perfectly round
pot belly. If I had one, I'd wear a
tee-shirt two sizes too small to
accentuate it.

I would listen intently during that scene and try so hard to believe Fabienne, and yet I couldn’t.  I couldn’t see my pot belly as sexy.

Luckily, I wasn’t bothered by this for any longer than it took me to graduate from college (four years, for those wondering…).  I lost some of the weight I had gained, but not the belly.  Mostly, I just had bigger fish to fry, as they say.  By sheer luck, I am someone whose energy and investments tend toward my brain and not my body, and I had a lot of work to do on my brain, so I couldn’t be too concerned about my body.

Also, the older I got, the more I learned to care for my mind and my body.  Working out became central to my life and identity and by default my body was in increasingly better shape.  While it was never “perfect” (I personally define this as the body of an American Ninja Warrior), it was more than acceptable (at least to me).

Flash forward almost twenty years:  While I never learned to fully embrace my pot belly, I absolutely loved my pregnant belly.  It was the belly I pictured during Fabienne’s dialogue.  It had the tautness of my ex-boyfriend’s runner belly.  I gained about 35 pounds, but mostly “the rest of [me was] normal…but with a big, perfectly round” baby belly.

It has now been more than three years since Levi was born, and I can probably count on both hands the number of times that I’ve looked at myself in a full-length mirror at home.  Most mornings I am home alone with Levi while getting dressed for the day, and I never even so much as give my outfit a glance in the mirror.  I whisk my fingers through my hair while circling the hair dryer frantically around my head.  Every few months or so I might actually put in a different pair of earrings or, more exciting yet, coordinate my earrings to my outfit.  But you get the idea, “ain’t nobody got time for that,” when they’re a mom (or, at least this mom doesn’t).  Every day it feels like a major victory when my ass lands in the driver’s seat of that van and my kid is safely strapped into his carseat.  I put the car in reverse and breath for what feels like the first time all morning as we roll out of the driveway.

Working out is also not what it used to be.  In my “new” mom life, I am lucky to get in three work outs per week.  Occasionally I hit my goal of four.  It took me over two years to fully return to my pre-baby weight, though this was never a real goal of mine (I fit in my pre-baby clothes at least, saving myself money and the hassle of shopping, so that was enough for me), and I was only able to achieve it through being cursed with two stomach viruses within a month last March and April.

When I work out, I tend to hide out in the dark corners of our gym alongside the indoor track.  There are too many bulky men pumping iron and staring at themselves in the mirror in the open fitness area, but recently I have ended up in front of that mirror myself a couple of times and have been shocked by what I see.  My body is that of an older woman.

My skin is pale white–the kind that people joke about needing sunglasses for–the light bounces off of it, as if off of snow.  Under the gym lights this ghostly glow is all the more obvious.  As I move my arms up and down, weights in hand, I notice something that I didn’t know was possible:  the skin on my upper arms is moving.  Not moving as in forming around a muscle but kind rippling and flapping like a piece of paper being moved by wind.  It’s not fat or flab but rather a looseness that was never there before.  In comparison to my chicken legs (skinny bottoms, calves without shape + larger (not large, mind you) thighs) and flat butt my arms/shoulders/back were always my asset–the areas I played to when buying clothes and placing tattoos. Because of this, most of my tops are tank tops, many with racer backs.  Based on my reflection in the gym mirror, it appears now that my assets are no longer.

None of this really bothers me per se.  What has been so shocking about it is that I believed that I was fully aware of and in tune with the idea of aging. I was never one to worry much about growing older.  I’ve never been drawn to ads for products that claim to help “fight” the aging process.  And I was never one to think that it would never happen to me.  So the surprise in all of this is how shocked I was when I could actually see it happening me. When that undeniable reflection of youth lost came back to me, and I had a hard time believing that was me in the mirror.  This realization that I now feel what many aging people feel–that I don’t *feel* old–has been wild for me to take on.  I’ve always known perspective is everything, and that experience is central to the formation of perspective, but this experience of aging has really rocked my world, shifted my perspective in ways I just didn’t know were possible.  Einstein’s theory of the relativity of time has taken on its own special meaning–things that seem like they happened yesterday actually happened decades ago and each day I turn into my mother more and more.  I thought I really got the “it happens to all of us” (“it” = aging, turning into our parents, viewing the world like an elder, slowing down, settling down, etc.), so I’m just surprised at how surprising the experiencing “it” feels.


Wk18 520 Moments (171-180)

Somehow I missed two weeks of reflections.  I’ve been trying to mix up my morning writing routine, but still have the continued problem of recording reflections during this time.  Therefore, I reflect on the same mundane things over and over:  darkness, light, quiet, cold, and coffee.

  1. Coffee tastes strange again today with a harder bite than usual.  I’ve cut way back–almost to nothing–on my caffeine intake to help reduce anxiety.
    1. Each day I am grateful to make coffee in a clean and tidy kitchen.  Starting the day with an uncluttered space and mind.  It doesn’t last long.
  2. I was talking with a fellow mom who says she lacks the anxiety gene completely.  I stared at her in awe, as if she were a kind of unicorn.  I cannot even try this on what this feels like, but it sounds wonderful and cozy and safe.
  3. A morning dove makes its announcement:  It’s morning.  Rise and shine.  Hoo-ee-hoo.  Hoo.  Hoo.
    1. Levi would insist it’s an owl.
  4. Motorcycles rev in the darkness, but this cannot be.  Motorcyclists don’t ride in this kind of cold and dark.  Do they?
    1. So much I don’t know about the world, more than four decades in.
  5. The neighbor’s lights on, then off, then on again.  As a child I would imagine this was some kind of morse code. An SOS.  I turn on my fairy lights on the windowsill, wondering if they see my signal.
  6. Winter runny noses turn into Spring allergies.  When will we get a break?
    1. Why have I still not managed to get a box of tissues on this desk?  The simplest of tasks can allude me for days.
  7. The plan is to get a lot done today.
  8. Last night my foot cramped up while reading to Levi in his tiny toddler bed (surprising my entire body didn’t cramp up, as squished into that thing as I was).  When I looked down, my big toe had moved to the left away from the rest.  I had no control over it.  The muscle was in charge.  I had to sit with that feeling of pain and no control until it passed.
    1. This same thing happens to my mother, and when I looked at down, I would have sworn my mother’s foot was attached to my body.
  9. Yesterday Levi unleashed a boogery sneeze, and as I cleaned up the mucusy mess, Rasta began puking on the brand new rug.  I dashed from one mess of bodily functions to the next, and got there in barely enough time to do the only option left to me: catch his bright yellow vomit in my bare hand.
  10. Now is the calm before the daily storm.  Welcome new day.

Wk17 520 Moments (161-170)

My writing has definitely been going through a rough patch.  I feel scattered, unfocused, and discouraged.

I will keep on plugging along, though, with these reflections because I said I would, and because the only way is through….

  1. Rain pounds.  One drop in particular hits the side of the house along my office wall.  Plop, plop, plop at perfect second intervals, keeping time, it seems to me.
  2. My view is blocked by one lowered blind—a remnant from my mother’s recent visit when my office becomes the guest room and my writing doesn’t get done.
  3. As we inch our way toward daylight saving (groan), 6am is brighter each morning.  The yard is illuminated as I stoop to turn on the fairy lights, and I can see everything.
  4. Writing down things I love made me feel good and loving (#BohoBerryChallenge).  It’s amazing—the power of writing.
    1. Just a few:  ♥ coffee ♥ family   ♥ bikes
      ♥ the outdoors  ♥ writing  ♥ reading  ♥ new perspectives
  5. Most days I cannot get too much quiet.  Most days I do not get enough.
  6. Journaling in an A5 notebook is so much better than a wide.
  7. My body tenses when the house bangs like a dull gunshot.
  8. I don’t have good posture.  I hunch at my desk.  Why does no one talk about good posture any more?
  9. Books and stones from the Bay of Fundy surround me and bring comfort.
  10. On the bulletin board in front of me hangs a flyer from 2012 for something I wanted to do and never did.  Is it too late, I wonder….

Wk16 520 Moments (151-160)

  1. The wind is so wild that the sound is nearly unidentifiable.  I pause to listen, wondering, What is that?
    1. Wind is my least favorite element of weather; except when I’m indoors and it sounds this intense, then I feel safe and protected from the big, bad world.
  2. Quiet, dark, single street light on a distant street peeks through the treetops.  Pink glow of salt lamp + golden dots of fairy lights.
    1. = same thing every day
  3. Each day, after pressing my coffee, I place the paddle from my Aeropress into the sink in the same spot at the same angle:  righthand side, slightly diagonal.  If there is something already in the sink in that that spot, I place it inside the object.  (#BohoBerryChallenge)
    1. The consistency of this routine fills me with comfort and delight.
  4. The residual cough from the cold I had weeks ago kicks up.  I bury my open mouth hard into my elbow and feel fuzzy, fleece tickle my lips and nose, as it muffles the hacking noise.
  5. Worried because Levi coughed not at all last night and is still sleeping at 6am.  Relieved that he’s still sleeping at 6am.  Much of motherhood feels like this.  Caught.  Conflicted.
  6. My glasses are dirty.
  7. I write in my sleep, moving words, stringing them together like popcorn garland.  By morning they’re gone–not even the kernel left.
  8. I also do jigsaw puzzles in my sleep:  differentiating the lightest variances in color and shading, locking the piece in with the satisfying click.
    1. Have they done studies of the brain while doing jigsaw puzzles?  There must be straight dopamine hits happening with every piece placed.
  9. Listening yesterday:  Levi in other room talking to Didi about “lip stuff.”  Didi responding, “I don’t know anything about lip stuff.  Wait for mommy.”
    1. He didn’t wait, of course.  I hear him saying his lips smell like candy.  “They must have put candy canes in there,” as he launches into a detailed description of the lip balm production process that includes crushed candy canes.
  10. I don’t have a “hometown.”  This all depends, I guess, on how one defines “home.”  I define it as the place where my soul belongs.  (#BohoBerryChallenge)
    1. In our increasingly mobile world, I wonder if that concept will no longer exist one day.  Or if we will just redefine it for transient selves.

3 year reflections

(It only took me over a month to compose this short post…)!

Levi turned three on January 4th.  Between his birthday day, birthday party, first soccer lesson, and a friend’s birthday, I haven’t had much time to reflect, ponder, think.

On the eve of his birth day, Dawn and I did sit in bed, after he had gone to sleep, and stared at the pictures of his birth (thanks to our amazing midwife assistants, we have a series of images showing him emerge inch-by-(slow)-painful-inch).  He was bluish grey like most babies upon arrival, and then oh so red.  I cannot remember what his cry sounded like or even what his skin felt like, so having these images to return to is amazing and so helpful.

I have written my birth story here before, and I know that a lot of birth stories describe the joy, the wonder, the complete and overwhelming sense of love in those moments following birth.  And yet, I feel confident that there must be lots of birth stories out there, my own included, where those are/were not the primary feelings and emotions.  I would describe my immediate reaction/feelings as numbness, confusion, relief, and exhaustion.

Exhaustion:  This one seems obvious.  I’m sure it is a feeling shared by all newly minted mamas.  Labor is exhausting.  Forty-plus hours of labor without any food or sleep is…well, maybe we don’t have a word for that yet in the English language.

Numb:  The exhaustion was so powerful, so dominant, that it left little space for other feelings and emotions.  I think this is why in my memory I was filled with a kind of numbness.  This wasn’t even a dumb awe caused by the wonder of the moment.  It was more like:  I don’t care about anything right now because I cannot.  Like “I cannot” in its truest sense.

Confusion:  The numbness was fed by the confusion of now having an additional human being in the room, in our home, in our lives.  Obviously we knew this would be the outcome, and yet, when it came to be, I didn’t know what to do.  I am a woman of routine, of structure, of carefully made plans.  If ever I had to step outside of my life for an entire weekend, my first step upon returning to it would be to clean the house or read the news while drinking coffee and planning out the day ahead.  None of these were options.  It was completely disorienting.  I remember lying in bed over those first few days with my iPad on my lap, trying to read the news, so I felt some sense of connection to the world.  There are many wonderful things about home birth (and perhaps one would feel this way in a hospital too…), but after spending an entire weekend going no further than my own bedroom, I felt like I had come untethered from the world.  I would stare out our bedroom window at the other houses, but I felt that they were a part of a separate universe that I was no longer a part of.

Relief:  I was just so freakin’ glad that labor was over and that the baby was out of me.  When Levi was crowning, my midwife kept saying, “Jenn, your baby has so much hair.  So much hair!”  And I was thinking, like I care about its hair??  Get.  It.  Out!  I was so deep into my own sense of relief in that moment–so glad the pain was over, the sleepless nights were over (ha!)–that I couldn’t really give a whole lot of thought to this helpless creature on my chest.  I have this one picture where Levi is laying at my breast, and I have my eyes closed and a very faint smile on my face.  I look totally blissed out in this photo, and I love it.  But I know that in that moment the bliss wasn’t really about him.  While I was happy to have him earthside, I was more happy to just be done with the experience of labor.

The point of this three years later reflection is not to lament my long labor or the lack of immediate joy that followed, but rather to point out that it is normal (and probably quite common) to feel less than ecstatic.  In fact, one might feel very little after the emotional and physical rigor of labor.

My other, more important, point is that the ensuing three years have been defined by joy.  Surprise and joy.  Surprise at the amount of joy that has come the older my “baby” gets.  It matters not at all now that in those moments following his birth, I felt so little, because now I feel so much (too much at times).

Lastly, I will note what a funny (distorted) thing that retrospect can be.  When I finally wrote my birth story a year and a half after the event, I said,

 Looking back on it now, however, that moment makes me want to do it all again.

But that is inaccurate.  It wasn’t that moment of his birth that makes me want to do it all again, it is the current knowledge of the awesomeness that comes after the arrival, and I mean long after the arrival (for me at least).