Developmental Leap

Sometimes I wonder if I omit too much of the grit. When I sit down to write, my mind wanders to the beauty hiding inside the day, even when the day isn’t an easy one. Gratitude springs up, sturdy and determined, like the tomato plants out back.

But there is the dirt and muck and mess too. There is a toddler alternating between laughter and meltdowns. Her language bursts with new vocabulary and complex sentences. She knows entire songs by heart and demands Baby Beluga on repeat. She hops like a frog exclaiming, “ribbit!” She is keen and witty and charming. And lately, during transitions, she exerts her will, throwing her body backwards and soaring into hysterics, drawing out a high-pitched wail, sometimes just for the pleasure of being able to make the sound, release all that energy.

When she was a baby, I felt blindsided by these phases. Now I quickly identify them as developmental leaps. Knowing that they’re temporary helps. Sometimes I’m able to mitigate a tantrum with grace. Other times I lose it and let her know I can yell just as loudly.

It’s hard not to kick and scream through uncomfortable transitions. Adults have their own internalized versions, that undercurrent of anxiety, the lower-pitch of a grumpy mood. Perhaps our developmental leaps can’t be mapped as predictably as a child’s, but we too stretch and grow, acquire new skills, see the world in new ways, grow into the next version of ourselves.

(Post 162 of 365)

 

 

 

Motherhood and Writing

Antonia Malchik’s essay “One Woman’s Meat“makes my heart sing.

“The absence of mothers still penetrates literature, even today when the call to listen to and publish diverse voices is making its first dents in the traditional canon. Writing by mothers can be easy to dismiss, especially if the writer happens to be writing about the experience of motherhood itself—a subject treated so derisively that it spawned the term “mommy blogger.” A scornful way to turn our backs on women’s efforts to make some sense of this visceral, maddening, joyful, terrifying experience. A high-minded dismissal of mothers’ attempts to find some connection and community, places where we can share stories of motherhood’s various challenges and the ways in which they burrow deep into every individual mother, permanently changing her sense of self.”

“…There are two billion mothers in the world. The way that these mothers raise their children to be eventual adults has an impact on everyone around them. Yet we still behave as if those mothers’ stories—our stories—are somehow lesser.”

“…Motherhood exposes us to our raw animal instincts; the domestic life keeps us bound to the rhythms of the planet and the passing of our numbered days. Are we so afraid to admit that these subjects are just as worthy of our attention and accolades as any other narrative?”

“…How we assess the value of this the chewiest, densest area of our lives taints how we perceive a woman’s literary treatment of anything at all. Women won’t get published equitably until this kind of work, this daily living, is held to be as truly valuable and individual as the rest of society’s experiences. There is fat and bone in the way we raise children, clean house, and strive to keep ourselves whole. Just as there is fiber and sinew in the way women fall in love, pursue astronomy, research World War II, trek through Patagonia, experience heartbreak and betrayal. There’s meat there, if we would only taste it.”

(Post 161 of 365)

 

Celebration

Tonight, a party. A small barbecue with old friends who don’t mind that I dragged my feet toward 40 and planned everything at the last minute. Friends happy to make a cheese plate and bake me a cake. Friends ready to celebrate, just say when. The weather is perfect cloudless blue sky breezy warm summertime. Sunflowers on the picnic table and an outdoor fire. The first party we’ve hosted since we moved in almost a year ago. Time to celebrate, blow out candles, make a wish.

(Post 158 of 365)

Wake Up

I have not woken up to an alarm clock in two and a half years. We wake before dawn, between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., soft slivers of pink light glowing between the slats of the blinds. Tiny toddler hands … Continue reading

Looking Back

Tonight, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I can’t quite believe I’ve arrived here at midlife. I survey the past from atop a high mesa, hand to forehead shielding the sun from my eyes. All that changing landscape. Some rough terrain and some forgiving. Places I thought I might not survive, places I wanted to stay forever. I squint into the distance, unable to make out the horizon. The vista is not unblemished, but mostly exquisite in its beauty. Gratitude fills me up. And I feel those 40 years.

(Post 155 of 365)