Happy Halloween and the making of

October 31, 2012 Candace Morris 2 Comments

May the force be with you, you parents who know what it's like behind the scenes of those adorable pictures. Sigh.  I'm SPENT.

Off to watch a scary flick (thinking 'Aliens') and drink a bottle of wine with my butterfingers.


Musings of a Mum: 4 Months Old

October 30, 2012 Candace Morris 2 Comments

Baby Bowie,
Either the copious amounts of postpartum supplements and B-12 shots are turning me into a perpetual optimist or I am entering a stage referred to as being 'bliss-ed' out on baby.

Duhn, duhn, duhn.

I'm not sure which unnerves me more: the not reaching the normal milestones of motherhood or the realization that I am absolutely, 100% normal and on-track.

Either way, I am now what we call bonded.  Oh boy, am I.  I think what made me realize this most was my returning to work.  I was supposed to be employed on this contract for Microsoft for 4-6 weeks, but they overstaffed the project and I worked for only 2 weeks.   That first day was rough - I felt like my heart was being rolled up and tied with kitchen string, like a pork loin ready for cookin.  While sitting in traffic, I saw a billboard with a baby bundled in a pink blanket advertising the quiet ride of a Lexus, and I blinked back tears.  Leaving you was so complicated for me, and going back to full-time work in general is a decision tearing me in two like one of those BFF heart necklaces, spliced and jagged.  Okay, enough of the analogies.  I cannot possibly say anything clever enough to convey a mother's love for her child, so I will just stick to cliches.  I just don't feel like I did a month ago.  I feel like you are MINE and I am yours and we are a family.  I see my role in your life and I imagine the beauty of your growing up - as if I were in the future looking back.  I often find this perspective helpful for extracting meaning in the present.  I'll teach it to you, should you have difficulty remaining in the now as I do.  If I imagine you loving your childhood, I can more easily give you a good childhood.  I believe the converse to be true as well.

Because, dear Scout, we are what we think. So make those thoughts worth a damn.

The night before my first day of work, Dad and I realized it was time we disassembled the pack-n-play you had been sleeping in.  It was taking up a needless amount of space in our room, but we were both unwilling to fully release you to the independence of your own crib, though it was obvious you were more than adjusted to it.  I slept so horribly that night.  I felt like your room was too cold, or then too hot.  I was sure that you were extremely depressed to be apart from us.  I believe that is what we call 'projection.'  The first week back, I found myself rushing to get home so that I could have a few precious moments with you before you went to bed.  There was one particular evening when the house was silent and we sat in your room, rocking and rocking and I felt the weight of your soul increasing with each relaxed breath.  You are not necessarily an old soul, but you are very knowing.  

I am also getting my sea-legs of mothering (analogy).  The paralyzing fear I experienced in the first three months is all but gone.  We are in a calm period, where you are behaving in expected ways and I fully realize that we are on the brink of another storm where you change the rules.  But the knowledge of this does not bring me as much anxiety as it used to.  The forecast of the hard work of mothering doesn't fill me with dread as it once did.  I feel more confident and definitely more knowledgeable of who you are.

Where once I was petrified of losing who I was before I had a baby, now I realize how ill-equipped that version of me would be for such a life.  She would be supremely unhappy.  To not evolve into this new way of life would be so dangerous for my personal growth.  I think once I realized that I didn't have to fear this new identity, I began to enjoy it.  

We do like your personality very much.  You are easy to cry, but also very easy to console.  In just the last two weeks, you have begun to laugh and coo at me consistently.  You are so happy right after sleeping, often laughing at me as I unwrap you from the warmth of your crib.  You love to be held and walked around the house, looking at shadows and colors.  Your eyes are so big and curious, and serious indeed.  

You have FINALLY reached the monkey on the play-bar above your infant seat, and have subsequently awakened to the lion and the hippo also hanging on the bar.  You will kick and flail for often half an hour to reach those toys, and I spent a few minutes watching you today as you seemed so extremely entertained and pleased with your own hands.  

You spent two weeks with Aunty Jess as your caretaker, and while you may have had a period of adjustment those first few days, you seemed to take to her like a fish to water (analogy).  This was so greatly relieving to me when I was at work, realizing that this lifestyle would not cut it, me being away from you for a job I don't care that much about.  If I am going to work outside of the home, it will be for something important.

I love that you can still go to anyone, but now follow me with your eyes more than before.  I am sure we are only weeks away from you knowing me better and reaching for me, and surely then I shall perish of love.

Congratulations to us both! This is perhaps the area of the most significant improvements since last month. You are sleeping through the night 95% of the time.  I will put you down around 7pm and you will wake to eat around 6am.  However, where once you went down with minimal fussing, you seem to now desire to fight it.  I will let you work those cries out, often because they are more you talking to yourself than distress calls, which sound very different.  If you work yourself up to that, Dad or I will come in and pat your back, readjust your blankets, or help you find your thumb.  Only once has the battle lasted an hour.  More typically, you will cry for 10-15 minutes at bedtime, fussing on and off until you finally console yourself with that delicious thumb.  You've all but rejected the use of a pacifier anymore, which is fine by me.  

Your schedule remains the same as at 3 months, and I am much better at adjusting and readjusting throughout the day, should you want to sleep longer or feed sooner.  

6am: Wake/Feed/Change/Activity Time
7am: Down for nap
9am: Wake/Feed/Change/Activity Time

10am: Down for nap
12pm: Wake/Feed/Change/Activity Time
1pm: Down for nap
3pm: Wake/Feed/Change/Activity Time
4pm: Down for nap
6pm: Wake/Feed/Change
7pm: Down for the night

You are taking roughly 5-7oz of breast-milk at a time, and nursing for 7-10 minutes.  Your reflux is no longer an issue, and you seem to be less affected by my diet (yay for more dairy).  You do still require a bit of calm vertical time post-feeding, and I've decided to start using that time to read you a book.  Often you will enjoy facing me and listening to me talk. It's your most jolly time.  Where once you used to be rather clumsy at nursing, you are now very skilled.  

Your head is totally steady now, and your most desired position is sitting up.  You have also found your feet, but have not yet figured out how to get them into your hands.  I want to work on getting you more mat time, I think that will help.  You are close to rolling from back to belly, but that darn arm gets stuck and you give up.  Soon enough, soon enough.

You love songs and can mimic facial expressions.  You seem to be left-hand dominant.  Your spirit is still, calm.  Your body is getting longer and your cheeks are tyrannical invaders - not even Uncle Mooney can resist them.  Will you be tall like your Dad or Uncle Bruce?  A tall gal with those eyes and gorgeous lips?! Move over, Giselle.

Though you are awake only 5 hours of any day, I see that that awake time is very action-packed for you as you process all the stimulation around you. 

You've newly begun to drool quite a bit.  Dad likes to call you "Drooles Verne."  I wonder if you are starting to teeth already?

For the most part, I cannot discern any signs of you being premature aside from smiling and cooing a bit late.  While you have been smiling for some time, there was no discernible laughing or cooing until the last few weeks. The first time was at Grandpa's face, while sitting at the dinner table.  Ever since then, you do it all the time - much to the delight of your parents. I'm not sure anything has ever delighted me so much.  It's so interesting how supremely satisfying it is to feel your happiness emanating, or to know you are sleeping soundly.  Similarly, it's frightening how anxiety-producing it is to see you in pain and anguish.  

You met many important people this month.  

Your Aunt Teresa came to visit and you snuggled with her easily.  You met Aunty Plume.  Aunt Jenn and cousins Olive and Cal just visited as well.  This last week, we celebrated Aunt Niki's 30th birthday with a dinner party at the house, and despite the noise, you slept through the entire thing!  I was so proud of you.

As you grow into being a human, I grow into being a mother.  Let's take baby steps, little one.  I don't want to miss anything.


Blog Anniversary 5

October 26, 2012 Candace Morris 4 Comments

Today marks the year 5 anniversary of this little writing space of mine.   Thanks for being here with me.  When I started blogging, I never really imagined it would become such a cornerstone of my life.  I come to rely on it for my sanity.  Through it, I have embraced myself as a person, a photographer, an artist, a writer, and a friend.  It's opened up my introverted self to many online friends, several of whom I now consider some of my very best girls.  There's a lot of drama with bloggers, but I have to say that this blog has been one of the best things in my life.  I'm full of gratitude today.

I've spent some of today going through my favorite posts (see button on sidebar), and remarking on how satisfied I am that I do this.  While I am an entirely new me, it is also comforting to know that I am essentially the same at heart.  I still want a life of quiet meditation, fireside chats, fall colors, red wine, and Victorian sensibilities (minus the whole oppression of females thing).  I wanted that 5 years ago. These things I want are the very things I give myself.

Happy Anniversary, Musings.  Here's to five more.


On the problem of problem-solving

October 19, 2012 Candace Morris 1 Comments

I am in a new stage of becoming Bowie's Mom.  It's so strange and empowering to look back over the pregnancy, birth, and first three months of her life and see how I survived what I never thought I would and learned and guided her in ways I was sure she'd never understand.  

In the beginning, I had little to gush about and a myriad of complaints of caring for a newborn.  I knew (in a place I had not yet accessed, but never doubted its existence) that I loved her, but I was not yet her Mom as much as a person in shock performing the hardest job of her life on the littlest sleep she's ever known.  However, in the last three weeks, I found myself newly in love with baby girl Bowie.  She's come alive to me, and not just because she is more alert, smiling, forming delicious rolls, sucking her thumb, and sleeping enough to get us both into good moods.  No.  

Candace has fallen for Bowie.  

My friend Leif (in a luminescent moment of encouragement where most people sigh, roll their eyes, and say 'well, I hope you're ready for the "joys" of parenting.'  Not that I judge them; we are not our most awesome selves when we do the hardest work ever known) told me that being a parent was like reliving that crush you had in college.  You totally adore this human, and yet you are petrified of that kind of powerful love.  You are terrified of the way it strips you bare and makes you vulnerable, for the wanting of it so badly.  I want things for Bowie I've never DARED have the audacity to dream for myself.  And I am both happy and relieved to say that where once I doubted my ability to feel this crush for my daughter, I am now completely and utterly normal.  I adore her.  I suffocate on my desire to see her daily.  My heart threatens halt when I imagine her in pain.

Going back to work has no doubt fanned the flame of this spark.  I have this bittersweet taste in my soul all day as I sift through copious and blinding amounts of tedious html.  Where I used to be relieved to have another pair of hands to assist me, I now urgently rush home to have the chance to swoop her up and put on her adorable footed pajamas and snuggle her and sing to her as we rock back and forth in a quiet house.  Where once that same quiet used to haunt my soul, it now feeds it.   Where once I doubted that she knew me from any other person, I now know she finds comfort in her mother.  I prolong her bedtime where once I counted down the moments.  I have such a privileged and blessed life that I get to have this baby and have very little else to worry about - a stark and jarring contrast to the resentment I felt that she was all I had to think about during the day.

So now, I guess I might say that I love being Bowie's mother.  That question used to confuse me, invalidate me.  But now - I can say most assuredly that I do enjoy it.

But here's the thing.  For all the things I like about being her mother, I seriously dislike how illogical motherhood makes me.  

Typically, I see a problem, and I can massage it into understanding via wisdom, experience, and logic.  In other words, I have mad problem-solving skills, yo.  I always thought this would be an asset in parenthood, but something new is emerging from the underbelly of my ability to fix things.

Perhaps I can best explain what I mean via an example.

I spent the last 5 weeks sleep-training Bowie.  She now has a predictable sleeping and eating schedule, and she and I are both happier for knowing what to expect from our days.  I don't want to 'brag,' but I do want to say that because I trained her so, she now sleeps totally in her own bed, comforts herself to sleep, and sleeps long and hard through the night, not to mention that she wakes up happy.  I go into her room at 6am every morning, and she is lying there - wide awake, sucking her thumb.  She grins like a fool when I greet her, and seeing her so happy is my thrill!  All of this work, all of the reading and doubting of myself as she cried in the other room even though I reassured her every 5, 10, or 15 minutes...all of this work has paid off and I feel not only proud of myself with fighting hard against myself for what would make her happiest, but also immensely proud of what SHE was able to accomplish with the slightest bit of nudging.  

But now.  Now! Where once I barely breathed for the anxiety of her waking up after sleeping only 45-minutes, NOW I feel panic that she is probably sleeping TOO MUCH.   Does this mean she is coming down with something? No doubt this nameless 'something' has been contracted BECAUSE I abandoned her by going back to work, and most assuredly this nameless 'something' is a terminal illness.

It's akin to knowing that Mac'N'Cheese is a nutrient-deficient meal, but smugly preparing an organic version of it, full-well knowing it's still nutrient-deficient, but HEY! At least it's ORGANIC.


So it goes with Bowie and myself.  The illogicality of seeing a problem, fixing it, feeling a bit of satisfaction and then a new strain of panic - ie. then MAKING UP A NEW PROBLEM in its stead -  has me frustrated with the biology of mothering. So I think to myself that it may not be about that problem at all.  My concern with making sure Bowie gets enough sleep isn't addressing the true core of what's happening.  Yes, I saw that problem.  Yes, I addressed it by implementing a new system.  

But perhaps deeper than that is the hidden notion that I am not a good mother unless I am worrying about Bowie.  Or that if I can anticipate her maybe being sick, it will be less traumatic to me.  Or perhaps, worst of all, I am fearing a motherhood of sitting on my laurels, being too easily satisfied.  I am not quite sure I know what it is yet.

But I can tell you this.  As with life, motherhood presents roadblocks and extremely difficult-to-manage self-doubt.  I do not commit to fixing all of Bowie's problems or addressing all of her unknown ailments.  I commit only to the issue in front of me, to chewing on it, to ingesting it into my soul, and to finally letting it either resolve itself or make me into a more real and vulnerable version of myself.

Or (so say we all) both.

My favorite kind of human has always been the one that lets life evolve herself into something new.  I see it happening with my progeny daily.  I chose to follow her courageous example and morph into a more mature and capable me.

Baby girl, we will learn to walk together.


Back to Work

October 15, 2012 Candace Morris 7 Comments

I made it through my first day back to work.  I cannot say the same for my mascara.

I recently learned that human internal organs have a dual function. There is the physiological aspect as well as the emotional.  Apparently, the lungs hold grief.  This may explain why I could not catch my breath today; not once could I lull myself to peace via deep breathing.  I am guessing I had a few things to mourn.

107 days ago, I became a Mum.  When I began maternity leave, I intended to go back to work, but my position was trimmed (I was fat, apparently).  I then planned to just stay home and suck it up - as I was never convinced about what I wanted to do anyway.  I was then offered a 4-week contract that I decided to take.  That contract work began today.  

When I accepted the position, I was thrilled and in serious need of a break from Mommy-hood.  I was lucky enough to line up Jessica as Bowie's nanny, so the pain of leaving her would at least be that little bit easier.  However, between then and now, something strange shifted with Bowie and I.  I found myself enjoying nursing, craving time with her, even wanting to peak in and snuggle her while sleeping.  Before, I was way too exhausted to do anything but exist.  Since I could leave for dates with Joel as soon as she was 1-week old, I figured maybe I wasn't as attached as a Mother is supposed to be.  

This of course was a direct result of Bowie beginning to sleep consistently through the night.  I was much more capable of loving her. But it still seems like I blinked and suddenly motherhood has engendered a choking kind of love.  It sits on the back of your throat, somewhere between your heart and your mouth.  It's as if I am perpetually watching a deeply-moving cinema and stuck on the part just before the flood of tears.  

I'm stuck at the edge of catharsis.  

I was fine most of the day.  I couldn't breath, but I was managing.  But then night.  Oh.God.Awful.Night.  

After an hour in rainy traffic, after feeding and changing Bowie, after washing and organizing all the shit from pumping breast-milk at work all day, after an hour of trying to get Bowie to sleep (that NEVER happens), and after more pumping, I had to lie down on my bed and weep like a baby.  Dinner was not made, relaxation was nowhere in sight.  Bowie cried in her bedroom and I cried in mine and the poetic symmetry broke my ever-lovin' heart.  

Joel rescued with a cocktail and a hug, and I lost it even more.  It's just so much work to get to and from work, even though I am leaving Bowie with my best friend.  I still don't get to spend the day assessing her every little movement.  I come home and feel like a stranger and read WAY too much into the fact that she won't go down easily and has to cry it out for up to an hour (don't judge me!).  She finally drifted off to sleep somewhere between my Negroni and 2nd pour of Chardonnay, but man - I just had no resilience left.   

I am so glad this is a short contract.  I think I needed this to realize that I am happy at home - and that whatever structure and mental stimulation I need, I need to provide it for myself - income would be nice too.  

Time to dream again.

Tonight, Joel went in to comfort Bowie and as soon as she saw him, she not only stopped fussing, but looked at him with a huge grin.  He said he had no idea how much she had hooked him.  Looks like I am not the only one being manipulated by biology.

I just returned from peeping in on her as I make my way to my own bed.  I never used to do that.  I never wanted to risk waking her.  Now, I am so enamored of her smell and personality and cute little jammies that it's almost worth the risk of losing sleep just for that one last cuddle.  I might have to go in and sniff that head.

Yeah. I'm 'effed.  This picking up of a soul only to let go of a soul - it may be my undoing.  My body cannot contain it.  Mothers, how can you walk around and not be completely undone by one prick?  I guess we all get used to it - like I've become accustomed to Bowie's varying cries and therefore less traumatized by them (hell, she almost never cries anyway).   

Moms are my new superheros.  Yoga pants aside.

Monday, I am not sad to see you go.  But I am glad to see that Motherhood is happening to me, just as it should and in its own time.  

Worry not, Candace.  Your biology will not betray you.  It's supposed to hurt this much.


Autumn, the Muse, and Over-cooked Eggs

October 13, 2012 Candace Morris 1 Comments

There is nothing to ruin a perfectly cozy fall morning than over-poached eggs.  Did I eat them? You bet I did.  Breastfeeding makes me crazy.

Return To The Sky

Can you believe this gorgeous photo?
Dear Camera, it's been way too long.

I wish you could enjoy this moment with us.  Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach in the parlor, I sit cuddled in Joel's large sweater perusing beautiful photography on Flickr, the best wind makes the leaves dance and I ache to feel that brisk air on my face.  I think I'll go on a photo walk.  Joel is trying to finish his MA, so our house is emanating this quiet, academic study as he reads and works on a paper.  I have thoughts too.

Confession. I don't feel awesomely proud about almost anything I've written, including most of the poems I self-published last year.  In fact, you know how you read an old diary entry from grade 5 wherein you swear your undying affection for Craig, despite his liking Missy instead?  And you know how your gushing, maudlin writing makes you cringe with embarrassment?

That's how I feel about my past work as a writer - even about work completed quite recently.  As I walked  through this gorgeous suburban nook in the city a few days past, I realized that I think I have to agonize over work in order to feel good about it.  It might be a given that we feel that way about past work, just like how we feel that way about past hairstyles, but just in case I am wrong...I'd like to sit with these questions for a bit.

Is the best work of mine best because it is labored?  Does it require blood, sweat and tears to be good?  Is there room for  work that simply comes to you?  And if it is easy, does it mean it's not good?  Are you supposed to bully the easy work into submission as well, infusing it with angst in order to know it has substance?  Am I required to wait for my muse in order to write?  Can a poet be dry and logical or is she required to be a mystic?

Where some artists find a hard time working without their muse, I find it difficult to work with her.  She is just as illusive as most, but most of the time she does not have much of anything to say.  Instead, she creates a little nest in the artistic part of my soul and makes room for us both to sit there for an extended period of time.  She plans the poetry party and holds the door open for me to enter.  

But once I sit across from her, pen and paper in hand, ready to dictate her words, she falls silent.

I have a mute muse.

Others talk about certain memes or totem animals or recurring themes that seem to appear in their work almost entirely without their willing it so.  Their muse seems to take their hand and sketch and they wake from a reverie and realize that they are suddenly compelled to make a certain earring, painting, or picture.  All other projects that they work at with daily diligence take a back seat to this branding iron of ideas.  These artists will be the first to tell you that they work and work and work and hope the muse shows up, but are determined to just work and work.  Still, their muse seems to infuse their mind with ideas.

Mine just doesn't.  My mind doesn't lack words, and I've never stared at a blank paper wondering what to write.  But I cannot say I've ever cried on the floor of my "studio" for working hard at an idea.  I've never worked so hard that I bled.  I just write it and hope it's good (since we are often the worst judges of our work, I don't try to assess my own.  This is a hard practice, to send something out into the world without placing a stamp of approval on it, without trying to control how it will be received  but I feel there is little other way to ensure that I actually do SEND the work out.  Otherwise, I will be paralyzed with fear of quality).

I am no master at my craft, and I really want to be.  I want to take a poetry class, I want to labor over poems and make neat little scratch marks through words and place commas cleverly. Yes, I want to work hard - but I also wonder, is it okay if it just comes easy and angst-free?

Of course it is.

Is your Saturday bustling with chores and social plans?  Are you feeling restless for want of plans?  Are you out hiking or grocery shopping?  Are you snuggled in with cups of coffee and Downton Abbey?

May it bring you what it is supposed to bring you, this day.
And may you respond with awareness and gracious self-forgiveness.


For the love of that ONE photo.

October 11, 2012 Candace Morris 3 Comments

It took this:

and this

and this

and all of these:

Just to get one semi decent photo:

"Happy Fall" this photo was going to say, since both Bowie and I were wearing orange today.  But now, I just think the sheer amount of photos to get one was silly.

Nevertheless - HAPPY FALL!


Good Friday to You

October 05, 2012 Candace Morris 3 Comments

On this sunny and brisk Friday morning wherein I was able to get Scout and I out for a walk (and perhaps have accidentally stumbled into the donut shop), I find myself in pairing down mode.  I want to sit and read my friend's beautiful blogs.  I want to sip my Americano slowly.  I want to hold my sweet baby girl just a bit longer before I put her down to nap.  

I so appreciate having an online space in which to escape.  It's an integral part of my life, the writing of and reading of blogs.  I have made bosom friends and met myself in a gracious way.  Like I imagine a painter to her brushes or a sketch-artist to her pencils, I love the way my fingers adroitly fly over the keyboard, my soul comfortable and easy within technology.  

My sister came up to see Madonna with me two nights ago, and while we had such an epic time, it ended up being a stress trigger for us both.  Her wallet and phone were stolen at the concert and she was due to get on a plane the very next day - without ID.  My sister is my number 2, and we do not talk very often.  When I have her soul in front of me, I love to hear her speak and share it.  She also came up to be with Bowie...but that annoyance of life became the focus of our one day together, and thing after thing just kept going wrong.  She was able to get home, but as I drove a screaming Bowie and myself back to the house from the airport, I realized how deeply stressed I was.  I came home, put Bowie to bed, and promptly put myself down for a nap, more because I was so over-wrought and over-stimulated than sleepy.  I stared out the blinds for an hour.  My poor sister, Seattle keeps doing wrong by her. I miss her so much.  I miss all my family since having Bowie, it's changed my need for them somehow.

Joel came home after a busy day at work and also the first class of his trek to finishing his Master's in Theology (that he started 7 years ago), and we were both even too stressed to watch Star Trek, our usual relaxer.  He took his time making us a home-cooked meal, I sat on the couch with a mason jar of wine and just tried to breath.  I think what I hate most about stress is how it lingers in your body even when the stressor is gone.  

This morning, after a good amount of sleep (though not as good as this week has been, since Bowie slept through the night on Sun-Wed), and after a walk intended to rid my being of that residual adrenaline, all I want to do is linger on my friend's blogs, tumblers, and flickr photos.  I want the beauty of how they see their lives to wash over me with kindness and inspiration, like a soft inter-webular hug.