Musings of a Mum: 11 months old
My dear child,
I have a few things I wanted to tell you about life.
First of all, I want you to know how much love was in our house before you came. It's important to me that you keep in mind that your Dad and I were once children, college kids, newlyweds. I need you to remember that we all start somewhere weak, feeble, wild, and young. I want you to remember that we are first of all people, second of all husband/wife, and third - your parents. That you understand your place in the family will inevitably lead to your deepest sense of security. We were a family before you came, loving and safe.
Secondly, I want you to understand personal growth.
Yesterday, I read a passage in a memoir by Lidia Yuknavich about our former selves. She was speaking about how her old troublesome youth-self was resistant to the new intellectual lady-self she had just discovered. In fact, the embracing of this new self broke up her marriage. I thought about how scary it is to evolve, about how there is zero guarantee that someone we were in the past will be compatible with who we are attempting to be in the future. The life we construct in order to care for our past will no longer necessarily be conducive to our future.
It reminded me of the personal crisis of 2007, which in turn affected your dad. I had started intense therapy and self-healing, and I realized that the structure of my marriage was such that Candace was broken, and Joel was the savior to her brokenness. This was true, for many years. His love undid much dysfunction and damage. However, he had loved me into a new, healthy self. This self didn't need saving by him anymore. If Candace isn't in need of saving, how now was Joel to relate to me? We figured it out, but it was so scary for a while. We had no guarantees that we would remain compatible in that phase of personal growth. I could have seriously wounded him, simply by my acceptance of a new Candace. Many people can get hurt in the wake of personal evolution.
But many more can get hurt in the wake of the refusal to evolve. If I had remained broken, I would have been, well...broken forever. If my desire to remain married had trumped my desire to live an authentic, existentially happy life, I sincerely doubt my marriage or my person would have survived anyway.
The depression that belies the stubbornness to change is murderous.
People who walk this earth refusing to change out of fear, or those who steadfastly adhere to their stagnant ways, bad habits, dysfunctional relationships, narrow religious beliefs, marginalizing political stances, and who never even attempt to learn to like sushi, these people scare me. Not because they never change, per say. They scare me because to refuse personal evolution is to refuse human nature. (And how remarkable is evolution that we are sentient enough to choose something antithetical to our survival! Fascinating. But that is an entirely other topic).
A mother who manipulates her son with every breath for assurances of his love for her will never know the authenticity of his true love for her, and will continue to wound him and fuel the fire of her continued desperation to be love...and therefore manipulate more and more and more until there is no relationship left to manipulate. Not unlike suicide or addictive behaviors, whenever a human recoils from that which is built into our DNA for survival...this is the ultimate tragedy.
What's worse is that this devolved person will be unintentionally hurting people. At least when you accept responsibility for your changes, scary though they be, you are fully awake to them and who they may devastate. This is vastly better than flailing about life, wondering why everyone recoils from you...as you inflict pain with no awareness.
At the heart of any functioning human being is the ability to recognize erroneous directions and turn from it. In essence, to say 'I am sorry' requires an understanding only evolved humans can embrace. Such as:
-"I am sorry I forgot to tell you about guy's night" - husband to me.
-"I am sorry I called you an idiot"- me to husband.
-"I am sorry I used to be flippant about human rights didn't exercise my own hard-fought-for right to vote" - me to feminism.
-"I am sorry that I used to care more about dogma than people" - me to the people.
-"I am sorry I used to hate your nose and called you nasty things behind your back" - me to self.
It's so hard to remember who we were, how lacking in compassion we used to be with people and ideas we now fully embrace. Even now, how we judge still what we are ignorant of! The only way to combat this is with education and a commitment to grow our souls. This is scary, because as I said before, if we grow, we run the risk of outgrowing our old life, loves, selves.
That is to say, there will always be ignorance in ourselves to overcome, it's okay, be open and patient with it. Once we feel we are fully enlightened, we couldn't be further from it.
"It is not easy to leave one self and embrace another. Your freedoms will scar you. Maybe even kill you. Or one of your yous. It's OK though. There are more." -Yuknavitch The Chronology of Water.
What does this have to do with me, you ask? I'll tell you.
You of anyone I know have grown the most significantly this year. When your father and I watch videos of you at 2, 4, or 6 months old, we both remark on how blob-like you seem compared to your animated self currently roaming our hallways. You have no fear about becoming an upright, verbal, independent human being. You were born to grow, born to struggle, born to fall so you can learn to walk. You don't fight it or fear that you will be unloved as you grow. You don't think of the battles you endured to gain weight as an infant or learn to sleep as a baby. You simply take those old selves and wrap them into your new self and viola! Every day, a new Bowie.
I admire you for this; it's downright inspiring. You look up and decide to lift yourself on things you never saw before. You fearlessly touch danger and never question your exploratory nature or judge yourself for your lack of progress.
I suppose my point is this. There are so many selves in one lifetime. Don't be afraid to let one go in favor of another. We don't need to be stingy with change.
And you, my dear, are a huge part of my current evolution. You've given me new confidences in broken, shaken places. You've taught me about difficult love, deep patience, and quick forgiveness.
As far as I have dared explore the depths of my own soul, there my love for you has crept in. You are everywhere inside of me.
This, perhaps more than any month thus far, I feel like you've cast off your baby self and become something so much more child-like. This may be due to your will exerting itself more. I have to say that it's oddly adorable (depending on how much sleep I've had) when you display your, ahem, preferences. You hate to have your diaper or clothes changed, and will cry like someone is sticking a needle in your eye...until I hand you any kind of distraction (remote control, lotion bottle, diaper cream tube) and you are rather suddenly sunshine-y once again. Ah, the bipolarity of babies.
Due to crawling, your personality has begun to blossom like all the spring flowers I stuff into your face to smell (which more looks like you licking them, but no matter). You have so many more opinions about things, so many more curiosities! Plants! Glass-wear! Outlets! Computer cords! You always look back at me when I say no and you turn to your name and the pss-ch-ch of my family. Joel and I have worked on trying to give you options instead of negating behaviors. So, if you are standing in the bathtub, I try to say "We sit in the tub" instead of "Sit down!". Not sure why, but I read it somewhere and it feels more positive than always saying no, which I now exclaim no less than 30 times daily.
I admit I dreaded your crawling because it would inevitably mean more work for me, but I have to say that I am adjusting. In the mornings, I used to set you down on your little play mat for independent time while I made coffee and wrote. Now, I can only sit on the floor and play with you, and though it's more work, it's a nice new time to have together. I wake up slowly, sitting with you on the floor while you crawl circles around me. That being said, I am happy that you still enjoy your bouncer so that I can at least go to the bathroom alone.
Every time any one of your fans walks into your presence, you grin like a fool. Your toothy smile is so pure and easy to come by, even if you are in the middle of crying.
DEVELOPMENTYou love to feed yourself, especially little cubes of cheese or shreds of turkey deli meat. You are happy eating puffs (a newly-invented food since I was a child) and Cheerios. You love your sippy cup and any other self-feeding receptacle.
You've begun to pull yourself up on coffee tables and couches, and love to play in the kitchen while I cook. You are ever so content banging spatulas against metal bowls.
You love to clap and sing. "Patty-Cake" is your newest favorite.
Sleep has been tricky this month, due to the crawling. It's hard to keep remembering that lessons must be taught to you over and over. We went through sleep training once, and I think I assumed it would be the end of it. As it turns out, with each new skill you'll go through a wonder week where you'll want to practice this skill 24/7...including in your sleep. A few nights ago, you were crying and Dad went in to check your diaper. You were on all fours, dead asleep, totally crying. He picked you up and you stayed asleep, but were crying. It's terribly, painfully cute. Since we had to assist you to sleep more than normal for the month, we have had to retrain you the last several nights...which means more crying than your usual none before bed and nap times.
OUTINGS AND EVENTS
Mother's Day - the very day you decided to crawl! I was sleeping in and Dad caught it on video. He then came in with you and woke me up to show me. We are so proud. Honestly, ever since then, we've both thought you look so grown up!
Meeting Kristen, who visited from Chicago. You loved your Asian. When she woke up in the morning and came out of her room singing, you would stare at her deadpan for quite a while, but after a few days of that, she won your heart. It seems to take you a while to warm up to people, which I completely understand.
Sunshine! We've enjoyed The Edible Plant Sale and a BBQ here at home, all with plenty of puppies and people to keep your attention for hours.
Please keep your cheeks. Thank you.