Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I was apart from Kamal for three days last week, being with my dad in a hospice in Florida. Leaving him was agonizing for me, but seemed okay for him--he played at our friend Emily's house with her daughter Sage, strolled around exclaiming at holiday lights, and then hung out with Adam till I got back. Deprived of breastfeeding and never a fan of bottles, he ate lots of "real" food, managed to nap well without nursing, and, wonder of wonders, night-weaned and has been sleeping through the night. (I'm actually afraid to write that down in case I jinx it.)
When I got back from Florida, though, Kamal was all about hugs and kisses, which was so lovely for me. He was also all about nursing. Nursing, nursing, nursing: it was like he needed to catch up, not just on milk but on the bonding we do while breastfeeding. I think breastfeeding, to Kamal (and to me, too!) feels like an extension of hugs and kisses: it's a kind of loving physical closeness that carries intense emotional volume.
Miraculously, he's continued sleeping through the night since my return. You guys, it's a whole new world, for real. However, he will not let me put him down for a nap. At all. Right now he's dozing in my lap, which is actually really sweet even if my left arm is asleep.
He's also not really okay with my leaving the room at all for any reason without him, getting ready to leave the house, or sometimes even handing him to Adam.
I am pretty sure that he's concerned that my boobs and I are going to take off again. Before this trip, the longest Kamal and I had been apart was seven hours. Three days is a really long time when you're not even a year and a half old.
My left arm says this napping issue needs to be resolved immediately, but my mama instincts say it just needs a little time. For a long time, I was food, shelter, love, everything to this little boy. I was it. Daily I see him widening his circle of awareness, moving further and further into the territory of human experience. Sometimes being needed so much by one person feels impossibly exhausting; but then sometimes you see how beautiful being needed like that is, how rare and how fleeting. And then you know that the baby napping guilelessly in your lap, snoring just a little bit and clutching your shirt in one dimpled hand, is the kind of gift you savor while you can.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
That's a hard thing for me to write. I love being Kamal's mother, of course. There is not one little cobwebby corner of me that is not lit by love for him.
But there are days when the work of being a mother--the constant cleanups and chasing and lifting, the endless negotiations, the lack of sleep (probably mostly the lack of sleep!)--is far more grueling than joyful. Have you ever gone swimming through molasses? Me either, but today especially, I bet I know what it feels like.
After waking up a couple of times last night to nurse Kamal in the rocking chair, I woke up to change a poopy diaper at 6:30. It wasn't a particularly bad night; it wasn't a particular early morning. It wasn't even a particularly poopy diaper. But I was so tired. So, so tired. I changed the diaper and then begged Adam to watch Kamal for just a little while, even though I knew he needed to get ready for work, so that I could go back to sleep. I didn't care if it was only for five minutes; I couldn't think past how badly I wanted to lie back down. Adam fed Kamal breakfast and I think I was back asleep before my head hit the pillow. When he woke me up before he left for work, we both worried I was getting sick. I skipped my run, napped right alongside Kamal during his morning lie-down, and spent the entire morning and early afternoon before I had to be at work just coping. I'd meant to do a bunch of housework, bike to the grocery store, take Kamal to the park and get to work early--and all I did was take Kamal to the park.
That's not all I did, of course. I fed Kamal lunch. I changed his clothes twice. I changed his diaper twice. I nursed him several times. I obliged his many requests to poke my bellybutton. I kept him from putting my cell phone in the toilet. I kept him from pulling the battery out of the clock radio. I tried to teach him about not throwing things at the dog. I tried to teach him not to pull my hair. I tried to teach him the difference between patting my face and hitting it. I stopped him from spilling a quart of water onto himself. I did not stop him from spilling a bag of dried apples all over the pantry floor. I cleaned up the dried apples on the floor. I stopped him from eating a dried apple that the dog had started to eat and then spit out. I stopped him from pulling the blinds off the windows. I brushed my teeth.
I got to work right on time instead of early, which meant a patient was waiting for me. I hate not being here ahead of the patient; I feel like it looks unprofessional and I find myself trying to make up for it for the whole appointment. In spite of wanting to be extra-professional, then, I was amazingly inarticulate during our session, still struggling to fully wake up. While I'm normally someone who tries to make a real point of looking reassuringly put-together in my professional life, my hair was sticking out all over the place and I'd forgotten to change from my playground shoes (navy blue Doc Martens) to my office shoes (still-funky-but-dressier-and-more-respectable tall black Fluevog boots). I couldn't get into the certain, capable, calm, aware place that work usually affords me--I was working too hard to just not act like an idiot.
I think there's a little bit of mama-burnout happening, and I'm trying to be okay with it, and to practice gratitude around it: gratitude that I am a mother in a time when I can talk about aspects of motherhood that aren't all joy and delight; that I have a partner who shares equally in the work of child-rearing and supports and listens; that I live in a culture that doesn't expect me to have another six babies as soon as possible; that I have the resources to make the changes that will help me feel less burned out and help me to more fully experience the joy of being Kamal's mama. And I know that changes can be made: I can find a part-time daycare situation that is enriching for Kamal. I can refocus on gentle sleep training and night weaning so I'm not so tired all the time. I can stay committed to running and yoga. I can work with the personal trainer I really like to help me stay strong and healthy. I can organize my office so I'm more effective and efficient at work. I can ask for help more than I do from my community, and accept it when it's offered.
It's a hard day, so far. And that doesn't mean that there wasn't real joy today. When Kamal turned on Adam's clock radio and an early Mozart piano concerto piped into the bedroom, his face lit up and he started to dance in his adorable bouncy way. And so I danced too, and for a few minutes it was just the two of us bopping around to piano flourishes in that narrow, sunny room. At the park today, Kamal really wanted to go down the big-kids' slide by himself, and I was nervous, but I let him go. He squealed all the way down and landed flat on his back on the cushy ground at the bottom. I was sure I'd messed up, traumatized my poor child about heights forever or worse--but he popped right up, laughing, and asked to go again. And realizing that all this communication happened without real words? That's pretty joyful. And sitting here in my peaceful office, I am realizing that I can't wait to get home to him, to my incredible, busy, messy, beautiful toddler and our incredible, busy, messy beautiful life. So. Good night.