Love the one you’re with

Pristine

I’m a bit disturbed that in my once-yearly visits to Port Townsend I continue to be beset by ugly thoughts and feelings – each time I visit. Yesterday and today, in fact, I experienced the strongest negative feelings and thoughts so far. All my baggage, sure and whatever, and maybe I’ll write some of it out sooner or later, but that’s not my point. The oppressiveness of it all threw me for a loop. It was like my brain had all this static noise.

And I didn’t have much time to process. Within about five minutes of driving into town I was at a party and spent almost every waking second after this around other grownups. I didn’t have time to defrag. I did my best to be present for my friends, who along with their children are deeply precious to me.

The friends, the kids? AWESOME. I felt high as a kite to be around them. That might have been the Stumptown coffee, too.

Darts At The Undertown

After hot chocolates and hot coffee we walked down to the beach. The children played and played and played, showing no boredom and only a total interest in the beach and one another.

A Place of Interest, #3

And they agreed to assemble so I could take a group picture. This is because guess what, tomorrow they will all be about six inches taller and with more or less teeth and telling different stories and doing different things so we wanted to get them, just grab them RIGHT NOW.

Preparing...

Assembling...

Almost There!

El Grupo

El Grupo[grimacing]

At some point some of us had to move onto a warm place with hot food. At this separation, Phoenix cried mightily. But in the way of small kiddos she was very happy only moments later on our way to lunch, stopping for a comically incorrect-sized kiddie ride – one she used to ride on as a tot that is, I suspect, not much longer for this world.

Triumph

The kids sat at their own table and Cynthia, Jodi and I got to catch up. I ate this huge-ass chile relleno. I’d hoped for the Noodle House but that was not in the cards. Maybe next time.

Like The Punchline:

As we ate it got darker, and colder, and darker…

So my daughter and I said goodbye to our friends and to PT and warmed up the car to hit the road.

On the way home, the little girl fell asleep (“Mom, may I take a snooze without interruption?”). We’d sung the entire drive up (Jazmine Sullivan and Justin Bieber, volume at 11) but it was nice to have time to myself on the drive back and I was glad she got some rest. In fact, both drives were very pleasant for me and I usually hate having my ass in a car.

Andrew Bird, and the twisty-dark of Highway 101:

Ode/Speed

On The Way Home, Phoenix

24 hours and there-and-back.

I’m ready to take a hot bath at home and cuddle up to the warm and beloved bodies in my life.

Port Townsend Gloom

Beach
(Small Stone #21*)

Beneath my feet, deathly chill, the shock traveling up through my legs.
Today I don’t mind.
I’m one with the elements.
Cold and fierce.

24 Hours
(Small Stone #22*)

My son puts his arms around my neck and buries his face in my breast.
“You were gone such a long time!”, he sighs.

Small stone project

I walk through walls. I float down the Liffey.

Friday night we came home and a friend of Ralph’s had left us a few vinyl albums, including one by Dirty Three (also: a carpet shampooer, which Ralph made use of this afternoon; carpets rolled up, house bare as a toothpick, cats happily sprawled on clean expansive carpetspace). Listening to the Dirty Three takes me back about a dozen years; life in Port Townsend in a Victorian houseshare, the rainy weepy greenery outside and how I longed to be alone in the big house, not bumping into roommates and feeling obliged to share stories of our day in the requisite politeness those situations seem to require.

At first I thought this little tourist seaport was the most romantic place, a venue ripe with intensity and wildness and waves on rocks and small crabs and sea otters, roses everywhere and winding roads up hills and to the sand, a place that would infuse you with untamed feeling and make you fall in a fierce kind of love. I now know it was me in love already, before I’d even thought of moving there, pining for my boyfriend and each weekend one of us would drive to the other like clockwork. During these couple years he lived in some little space in Olympia or Tacoma and on weekends wherever we were we’d go shopping in a snooty neighborhood grocery store, I’d pine for copper-bottom pans and Ralph would be more sensible about what kind of things we could buy, maybe a sliver of expensive cheese or a bottle of wine less than ten dollars and then a movie out. For a time Ralph lost his car so he took my truck and weekdays I biked to work along the water through the fresh wet air and into the steaming loud clangs and humidity and oft-foul smells of the pulp mill I worked in. Good work too, and I was gifted; soon raise after raise and a promotion as the first female foreman, a young woman and then a wife and mother, but I get ahead of myself because:

My loneliness in those first two years, listening to Dirty Three and Björk and Nick Cave against the rain-swollen windowpane. I’ve always been a social person and rare have been episodes in my life I’d call Friendless, but I did not fit in with the other townies who were my age, many of them waitstaff or massage students or Peter Pans of some sort, saving up during the year and travelling or sinking it all into some wooden boat, mostly getting up to pub crawling and tumultuous trysts. Here I was making an engineer’s salary, the first year out of school more than my mother had worked up to her entire career, and I didn’t want a Boyfriend or a Drinking Buddy, just some friends to share my life; I found not a single one for two years.

One weekend Ralph fell ill and couldn’t possibly visit; he was so sick he couldn’t get dressed. With only gladness and adventure I happily took a cab to Tacoma to care for him for the weekend, in his old Hilltop house with a few other musicians, half of them the requisite self-absorbed assholes, our tiny bedroom we camped in, a little futon and a folding portable table for us to eat noodles on and it cost $150 for that little car ride. When my coworkers heard how I’d spent my weekend they joyfully spread the story and it became something they’d tease me about; people love anecdotes like that, compartmentalizing our relationship as being only Young Love and only a Good Thing if a bit Foolish.

But I pined to be with Ralph and I lived for the weekend and it sucked the life out of my week days no matter how brightly and attentively I’d focus on my Work and attend work parties, yes, where you ate appetizers and drank to fill up the loneliness! (Make no mistake, I was not the only one suffering.) I wrote in my notebook, I remember, the day I found out my father’s cancer had returned, October, grey lonely streets bereft of summer tourists and Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely”, the sky was drenched in sun and rain and sorrow.  I felt my life was in a limbo but before me stretched out Work and Money and maybe someday a shared life with the young man I loved but you had to Earn That somehow, and I didn’t know how.

And I remember not so much later the sunny day in the tiny little studio, view of the water and the ferries and the sun-dazzled cliffs of Fort Casey across the sound, and I was cooking chile verde all day to share with Ralph when he’d get home, I was just learning to cook in earnest, soft tortillas folded and waiting and my now live-in boyfriend home in a few hours, and I’d had a night-shift and slept a while and felt ill and thought I’d take a pregnancy test just in case, and I can still remember the feeling of incredulity and surprise and joy and nausea all at once in the little bathroom, not even room for a shower but a small tub with a bower extension, and the lemon-yellow walls and clean windowsills and seaglass catching the light.  I could never handle cooking that dish ever again, but I didn’t tell Ralph we were pregnant until I took another test at the Health Department, just to be sure.

And then life lifted us up and up and up like leaves and scattered us and my adventure began in earnest and I left behind that rainy and lonely residence forever.

Sea serpent on beach

small wonder

Today was my daughter’s 8th birthday. I snapped a picture of her right when she woke up; then crawled in bed with her and we talked. She was in wonderful spirits. Like most mornings, she immediately rose to tend to her gecko and to play with the kitties.

Harris Whisks Away

Before we left for lunch we harvested the lemons on our lemon tree, a plant we ordered by mail last summer. It had only four blooms when we received it and two were destroyed in its early weeks – thus, only two lemons grew. My lemon tree is one of my favorite material posessions, and is also the result of a two-year-old running Hogaboom inside joke – if you know the story, you are indeed in our circle of trusted friends. If you don’t know it, let me tell you sometime in person – it’s not such a good one for the writingz.

Anyway. The ILLUSTRIOUS HOGABOOM LEMON ORCHARD:
Squeeze My Lemon

Sophie, Wonderment

Kids Contemplate Lemonage

This next lemon harvest is looking impressive; there are hundreds of blooms bursting out of the tree! Guess the diet of menstrual blood and cigarette ash has boded well.

There were no takers on our proposed lunch date in Olympia, and my daughter decided she’d rather not go. So instead we visited Sophie’s second choice of venue, My Sisters Bakery here in Aberdeen. After getting home she spent the afternoon and into dusk outside playing with the neighborhood pack of kids – no seriously, they are riding bikes and climbing trees and building a tree fort by the train tracks! – and then we went to dinner with friends at Alexander’s in Hoquiam. Which was also funny because my son was being what many would consider Rude, and the proprietor was clearly annoyed, but deliberately put a “polite” face on things. And I did thank the proprietor for his patience and we did tip well, but it kind of made me laugh to see him stand at attention with his hands behind his back, giving Nels the polite attention he so clearly felt the child did not deserve.

So, I want to talk about Sophie a bit.

I remember so much about my pregnancy – which over the last nine years has been rendered into fragments, impressions, and sometimes vivid experience. My reaction upon taking the pregnancy test: stunned, from across the little studio apartment I could see the little double-line result and it was like a scene in a movie where the camera pulls back and zooms at the same time – actually kind of like alot of this imagery and terrifying orchestration, not necessarily a positive reaction at all, and I would not be able to cook the dish I’d been preparing that day, ever again; and I remember getting a second test at the Health Department (recount: whaddya know! Comes up pregnant again!) and later that day Ralph’s reaction (amazing, so sweet, so tender, so excited)…

My pregnancy went very well. I was praised by coworkers for working as shift foreman, working as hard as a man even while carrying my spawn (now I know to say “FUCK off, seriously, I do love you guys but I do not work nor pregnate for your approval”*, but I didn’t know this at the time and I lapped up the “Good Girl” compliments). Pregnancy and, later, pregnancy while nursing and then, nursing two, was awesome – I felt physically amazing and had the appetite of a linebacker. Yet with Sophie’s pregnancy I was nervous and tried to “do things right” during the duration (again, learning a little FUCK OFF is a lesson I’d love to impart to today’s breeding families) but I suffered no ill effects and, after a rough birth, took to breastfeeding and baby-loving with a wonderment and energy that has never subsided since.

Ah, Sophie. Has any baby been more loved than our baby girl? Her second year of life I quit my “Good Girl” job and we received unemployment benefits (due to a big OOPS on the part of my former employer) and this was life-changing and instrumental to our family life and what it was to become. Ralph built his computer business up enough that it changed everything; during this year he was home so much and although work-from-home and no-one’s-really-employed wasn’t easy (thank you so much, State medical, which covered my child and myself for one year), it was like a respite and a deep dive into family life, and it was incredible. This was Ralph before he grew to hate me for various and sundry, before our second child seriously challenged our worldview of PARENT IS BOSS AND IN CONTROL, before we had four mouths to feed and the high cost of living in Port Townsend caught up with us (NSF, sorry, no groceries, hungry lady-with-two-hungry-babies!).

But these idyllic memories are concomitant with so much baggage and weird shit I believed, like my baby should behave well and look cute and that other restaurant patrons have the right to never once have the experience of Children foisted on them (this is a big one for me, as I’ve always enjoyed eating in restaurants) and perhaps more importantly, this is before I knew that children grow so fast, and that it doesn’t make sense to do anything but enjoy every minute you have with them, truly, even if that means you don’t get the shit done you want to, or they splash in the tub and you have to clean the bathroom; and please, cleaning the bathroom floor while your baby / child laughs and watches you and loves you so much, is there any reason this isn’t just as amazing and wonderful experience as anything else? Fuck-yeah! to being happy to be alive and to have those we love beside us?

My daughter is cited as the “easier” child in the minds and mouths of those who know us and who hear us talk about our son – but of course, she is not “easy” because to the extent she is a more convenient child she is one we can wound, suppress, and over-socialize. We can so easily teach her – and when parents do this is it almost always, always inadvertently – that her compliance and Good Grades and Good Behavior are necessary for her to upkeep to receive our love. She is strong yet (usually) defers to authority; she is rugged yet impressionable. She sees deeply into the truth of things, probably in part because I do as well, and I’ve passed this on to her – but also, of course, this is her nature. I asked a lot of her as an older sibling, and I still do, and maybe one thing incredible to me is she knows this and accepts this most of the time; yesterday in my mother’s old truck as we drove home in the sunshine she said, “Being older is better, but it means we have to do more work.”

It was funny because the other day I was taking a bath and my girl came in the room to join me. She was carrying some sci-fi fantasy paperback she’s been reading, and she asked if she could get in the bath. I was thinking how when my daughter was born I would have wanted all the things I currently have (“have”): a smart, intelligent, well-read, well-adjusted, polite, slim and beautiful little girl. But I would have wanted these things for many wrong reasons: to glory in my “accomplishment” of this child and to be assured I wasn’t screwing up in some way, and in some way to prove to everyone Look, I Can Do It, or maybe more accurately, to ensure I would never receive criticisms for making Huge Mistakes in my role as parent, because holy damn, making mistakes as a parent really, really sucks, bad, it hurts worse than any mistake I’ve made in any other way – jobs, relationships, anything.

I’ve since released myself from believing my children’s behavior and choices are direct reflections on me and my worth, my work ethic, or my intelligence. I’ve since rejected the concept that my children’s lives should be used as sole measure to justify or denigrate my parenting STRATEGIES, my personal strengths or weaknesses, or my savvyness at making-sure-I-get-my-way and kids-need-to-know-their-place,-see?-mine-sure-do; likewise, I release my friends and neighbors from these same dogmatic correlations and when my Judgment wells up I gently address it.

And in releasing those who judge based on my children and their accomplishments or good behavior – or lack thereof – I have in the meantime been delivered the most glorious and amazing children. They couldn’t please me more, simply put, although when I am complimented on their manners or intelligence or forthrightness I do not feel smug or Right in how they are; I feel grateful and humbled and joyous, and more than this I feel so excited because they are doing this all themselves, I am only their love and a bit of guidance and I feed them and care for them, but I do not hold it as my job to mold them – not anymore. I am still reeling from a change in worldview, that it is not solely my efforts that make amazing children – or my lapses that create conflict and fights – and I’m still so excited when I talk and it spills over sometimes I worry it sounds like bragging when it Just. Isn’t.

Today my daughter, I couldn’t be more proud of her, but I am not proud in the way I thought this meant so many years ago. I am proud of her in that I cannot believe my good fortune, and the miracle that may occasionally move through me, but really isn’t about me at all.

Sophie, Upon The Morning Of Her 8th Birthday

* “pregnate” = Not A Real Word

the groupie who gets out the pjs and reads a bedtime story

Ten to eight years ago when my husband was fronting his most earnest and ambitious music project yet I prided myself on attending every concert they had. Come hell or high water, long hours at my job, a broken-down car (I think I availed myself of a one hour cab ride once) I made sure to be there (I remember a particularly grueling trip driving to Spokane, playing a show – unpaid – and driving back, in one day. Wait, there’s more: we had five of us in my little Mazda truck, including all the band gear. And none of the guys brought money for food – I paid. I think we went to the Outback Steakhouse somewhere in Desert Hell Fuck Hole, WA. When we got back at 4 AM or whatever Ralph helped his guitar player do his paper route, because the guy was wrecked. This is all 100% true and indicative of aspects of rock-band life). It was aggravating sometimes to support some of the types of shows and venues that went down. But I loved every minute of his performance. I loved his music, and I remain so impressed and inspired that he can write – and perform – the way he does. For me, this is something as close to magic as I can credit – creating something out of thin air, making people dance or cry.

I wanted to be there every time he played, for his sake and my own.

Things have changed since then, and tonight I’m reminded of the largest difference: our two children. Although a wonderful local friend here in Port Townsend found a childcare option for our kiddos (who we take to shows unless, like in this case, it’s 21 and over), it was so obvious to me tonight watching the children cavort with their babyhood friends at a grange dance that my daughter – who a few days ago was at the southern terminal end of the Western United States coastline – would not best benefit from a hang-out with a handful of kids and a movie night while her brother fought with her over popcorn and occasionally tried to murder her. She needed me or her father, full stop; and since her father was going to be up on stage reaping the acclaim (and possible airborne panty missiles, yet I kid) of his fans, it was going to be me.

And I was right. After we drop the bandmates off uptown Sophie, sad and forlorn like a wilted nightflower in her ivory and black silk dress, suffers through renting a movie and heading back to the hostel and my preparations cleaning out the car, stripping her and getting the bath and night clothes ready. By the time I’ve gone to the upstairs kitchen, fixed her a bowl of fragrant oatmeal, and brought down a few books to read she is curled up asleep in the corner cot of the six-bed room. Waving the bowl of hot cereal under her nose and she revives, her eyes sleepy and red. She is ravenously hungry and eats, then reads the books I brought her. She is bone-tired, but centered – even smiling, and I know I made the necessary choice.

Now, sitting in a dormitory while she showers, typing my handful of words (this month’s novel effort will have to wait), I miss my friends at the show, and I’m sad I couldn’t be there for my husband. But I do know he knows I’m inspired by him; and as for our many and awesome friends I hope they all know how much it means to our family to have them show up – because sometimes even the most die-hard fan can’t be there.

Kids @ Grandmas

of sylvia and salamanders

Today it’s like gritting my teeth to take a day off; but we do, because I’d promised the kids a return to Lake Sylvia. This is a beautiful but not oft-visited location for us.  We’d stopped there on Wednesday on our way home from Olympia; the city was too hot, and the lake a perfect respite. As we were making way to get going I saw my doula, her husband, and their child pull into the parking lot, on the last leg of a roadtrip. Small world, I suppose; they live hours away. Yet the sight of her was familiar and welcome to me and we caught up for a few minutes before parting ways. Nels was in the backseat, tossing his hair out of his eyes and viewing this woman with quiet speculation – she’d been at his birth! – his long brown torso and his bright white underwear (the “swim gear” my children had employed; keeping them out of water is never an option) completing the picture.  Beautiful and fierce, the same child he was the day he was born.

So here we are again, at this lake, having this time packed a sizable lunch (grapes and dolmas with chard – delicious! Also, tomato sandwiches from the tomato abundance that is our greenhouse) and coffee for Ralph and I. The kids play, and play, and play. And play.  I almost convince Ralph to leave them to their swimming and come on a short hike.  Instead he and I play some frisbee in the water (I do rather impressive catches and the occasional comically poor throw) then go for a short walk across the bridge.  Talk to some tweens fishing off the dock (“Caught anything?” In unison: “No.”  “What are you using?” “Worms,” and so on.  The boys friendly, but muted).  Sophie catches a salamander and enjoys a brief bit of celebrity status among the children.  The kids perform coordinated stunt-dives off the old dock platform – the dock disappeared sometime in the last decade or so since I’d been out here.

Home from the trip and I’m already cooking and sewing like a madwoman. A grape and goat cheese tart and some homemade bagels to bring to a yoga retreat tomorrow. For our dinner: paneer fried in niter kibbeh, beet salad with ranch dressing, roasted garbanzo beans, and marinated kale.  Ralph takes the kids out – again – to a park, and I retreat to my sewing studio to trace the many pieces of a fitted coat pattern for Sophie.  The comforting space is now framed with long lengths of scarlet batiste and Bemberg rayon, awaiting cutting – the breeze ripples the lovely layers of fabric and a little kitten keeps me company.

Grandma has been watching the kids here or there; taking them out to her boyfriend’s place in the sticks, having them for the occasional sleepover:

Kids sleeping in; at my moms for the night

Kids sleeping in; at my mom's for the night

tienes siete anos hoy

This Morning, At Seven Years
Sometimes I think your brother got the better deal. By the time I had him I was over a few things: namely, the identity crisis of giving up career and status, the need to have things entirely my way, and an irrational fear of infanthood. I’d like to believe I am a work in progress. I am doing my dutiful best to improve as your mother, leader, and mentor.

Sadly, though, while I have been doing all this self-discovery you are growing up. You benefit from my unadulterated, fierce love and the energy you bring to me – but you are also the recipient of my many mistakes.

I know you. You love to sing and you love to hear me sing. You love many of the things I love: sewing, listening to music at top volume, taking baths (together!), watching B movies. You like many things I don’t: Disney princesses, jokes about bodily functions, Regina Spektor.

You love swimming more than anything else I can think of right now. Any time your head emerges from the water you are smiling. Your skin tends toward dryness so I’m always lotioning you up after you swim. Last time I pulled out the Gold Bond – very effective but with an unappealing medicinal scent – and you groaned, “Oh no!” I laughed because I should just throw it out and buy you something new – it’s so “mom” of me to continue slathering it on you until it’s run out and it’s so “you” that you complain but allow it.

You love reading, especially graphic novels. Sweet ones, quirky ones, violent ones – anything you can get your hands on.

You are kind to animals. I was looking through our many photographs of you and your love for animal life is remarkable. You carried our new kitty home the summer day we picked him up, you attempted surgery on our traumatized chicken, and you are completely at ease with creatures large and small – knowing our pets’ many moods and proclivities better than the rest of us. You’ve told me you want to be a veterinarian someday. I can see if that’s the path you choose that you will be well-suited.

Just these last few weeks you’ve taken to sleeping in your own bunkbed. You’ve also not always been willing to cuddle or sit on my lap when I want. I’ve decided to look forward to and absolutely treasure the moments. Luckily, they still happen often. This morning when you woke you came and found me and climbed into my arms while I sang you “Happy Birthday”.

Sun-Kissed
Why don’t you be a little blonder and cuter? Because it’s NOT POSSIBLE.

Punkin + Punkin
Having children means the revival of the punkin-patch. Thanks for being a constant source of renewed joy in life’s little pleasures.

Summer Babies
Is now a good time to mention you not only cuddled your brother a lot but helped out with the cloth diapering tons, too? I owe you back-pay, I admit it.

Surly Fish
Marine Science Center; I had Nels in the Didymos on my back and I was enthralled with the both of you.

Tiniest Little Undershirt
The way your lip is pooched out in this picture reminds me: you used to suck your thumb! For four-point-five years.

Fort Worden, Again:  Peace Portrait
You and your friend C.; you were wonderfully suited to one another. Your daddy has always been awesome at fixing up your hair.

Of "Muffin"
I bought you this mattress, and all the bedding, and you loved it. Name of the little creature you’re holding (that you crafted in church camp): “Muffin”.

Fort Worden
Up at the Fort, ready for action.

He's Going To Outweigh You Soon
On yet another hike. Don’t tell anyone there’s like, a six foot drop under your feet. You guys were fine.

"Of The Forest"
I found this coat abandoned on some playground; you wore it for years. The hat you still have; it actually fits now.

Last Day, Port Townsend
Port Townsend, our last day. You were both ready for (more) adventure. Nels was getting over pinkeye.

Helping In The New House
“Is there a ghost in my house?” You helped us pick and move into the place on Eklund. You approved of the purple house across the street.


We ride public transit a lot more now that we’re in HQX. You and your brother are experts!

Bagel Hunter!
Cooking in the Eklund kitchen; well, I cooked, and you’re about to eat. I loved the sunlight during the spring.

Untitled
Que bonita! Remember when we went tree-trimming for swags, and had lunch at Galway Bay after? You probably don’t, but your father and I do. That’s pizza on your face, by the way.

Sophie Swimminz
Doing what you love: swimming. These days you can swim the width of the pool and are learning back- and breastroke. You go off the diving board rarely and reluctantly. You enjoy doing headstands and having me throw goggles for you to hunt and retrieve.

Lake Quinault Explorers
Out at Lake Quinault. You and Nels, a precisely-tuned engine of play.

eyes on the prize
Soccer! We never missed a game this summer. You are an excellent defender.

Morning Love
This speaks for itself.

Tonight’s birthday dinner choice: Alexander’s Restaurant.

Thank you for being a true inspiration. You are the smartest little thing in our house. I look forward to many more days with you; as many as you have to spare.

too little too late?

I would have loved to blog my vacation trip to Port Townsend – from Wednesday through Friday – with the kids. However my cottage rental had internet fits and I wouldn’t be bothered. I do have a Flickr photoset available.

My living room is in the process of being painted: a deep orange and deep pink. Yeah, you heard right! It looks great (methinks), reminds me of a cantina, and I’ve had “Mexican Hat Dance” stuck in my head each time I walk through.

i made it, yet again

In just a few hours I will have completed thirty-one revolutions around the sun. Good job, me! And thanks, mom and dad! And everyone else involved, really.

Last year on my thirtieth birthday it was a jumble. I was days away from moving our family for the first time (and in denial); I then had a surprise party that included employees, friends, FOO – who I typically would have to beg or cajole to visit, including during times I faced surgery and baby-birthin’ – and this great party only minutes after I’d discovered our dear lovely family cat Fancy had been killed. It was an amazing, wonderful, and emotional ride; this year I’m content with a lot quieter. I love the idea of being 31. I like the number itself.

The weekend entailed a visit from college friend Jodi, husband Doug, and their two children Cyan and India. After they left I darted back to my sewing room to finish baby booties for Nels’ teacher’s imminent birth and enjoyed my mother’s company for a dinner of cabbage rolls and baked potatoes courtesy of Ralph’s cooking. So all-in-all at 9 PM I’m tired but grateful and content and looking forward to a lie-in.

happy weaning

Make Way For Duckling

Just like that, you are weaned. Like the three years that prefaced the last morning you nursed, breastfeeding evolved beautifully to meet both our needs. This morning, instead of watching you nurse, I hold you in my arms and you quietly stroke my face. Later that evening at your request we hide ourselves in the bathroom and I paint your nails a bright red in honor of your third birthday. I hold your tiny toes and you look me in the eyes and say, “I love you so much, Mama.”

With pure dumb luck I fell into the category who finds breastfeeding deeply satisfying on physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual levels. So to move away from this relationship feels major; I sometimes feel we’ve known one another forever. And for as long as I’ve known you, nursing has been so instrumental in the way we connect.

Little girl, I am so blessed as your mother. You above all taught me what it means to nurture. We nursed through two pregnancies and one miscarriage. We nursed in the evenings, mornings, at restaurants, in church, and in the bath. You nursed the morning of the arrival of your baby brother and shared the breast willingly with him. We nursed through the scary illness you had at 14 months when you couldn’t even keep water down; nursing saved you from many other would-be illnesses and eased many transitions. Nursing kept me laughing and let me put my feet up more often than I would have without it.

Now at this milestone you emerge confident, and I have the deep satisfaction of knowing I didn’t rush your babyhood for either of us. Yesterday you climbed into bed with me and after a few quiet moments you looked up at me and said, “I used to nurse with you in the morning. Do you remember this?” as if it were ages ago, not a few days. You were obviously so comfortable with this change, while I got one of the first of many moments to come where I act casual and give a quick hug; tears well up and I blink them away. I am so happy to see you confident and growing. But just yesterday you were still my baby at my breast.

Happy weaning, Sophie. My little Beak.

3rd Birthday, Sophie / Phoenix

Fort Warden

Kiki!

Hysterical, 1

Hysterical, 2