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strain

Three years old. So emotional for the children and the parents. I’m sitting outside the bedroom while T does bedtime, listening to one tearful reaction after another. His voice is tense, wanting to guide the child through, showing him the straightest path, offering the solution he perceives to be best… The boy, though, just wants to work with things as he sees them, to try it his way. The adult who doesn’t want to spill medicine or clean up a mess is beside the little one who is making sense out of the whole thing, his instincts pushing him to do it himself.

All day long we have these encounters: parent to parent, parent with children, children with each other. The screaming anger from M, the tears from S. Slamming doors, walking away in anger, pushing, grabbing, shouting… the parents struggle to slow down, to let go, to allow them space to work out their frustration, satisfy curiosity. Our voices strain, our hands grab things away from them when we tire of guiding. We end up acting in ways we discourage sternly in the children. It’s a constant paradox of wanting a certain kind of home culture and experience of peace for the children, but churning in our own dissatisfaction, impatience, exhaustion, and really, sometimes boredom.

Each adult (there are three, with me, my sister, and my fiancé) has their own experience. Right now, I sit outside the door, my child cries for me, wails that he wants time with his mama. The door won’t be opened, though… We have all agreed that he needs to learn to be comforted by each of us. Except that I am not comforted, the child isn’t appeased, and the other parent is stressed. We feel the pull, my child and I. I feel his longing, and even though I know that he might be just as tearful and whiny with me in the room, I want to answer. I sit, I wait, my stomach in knots, my shoulders tight, my breath shallow and fast. I am resisting the urge to protect my child from the frustration that may or may not be bubbling in my partner. Then the parent begins to read, the tears somehow subside. The child is quiet, leaning his stressed, tired body on the solid body of his new father… a chord emerges from the dissonance between them, without me.

This is our path, to push, to question, to wait through our discomfort, to go through the thorny underbrush and persist in our determination to serve our children for where they are. We give each other space to grow, both through their childhoods and through our parenting. Sometimes the way is clear, and other times we all come through bruised and hurting. The gift is, that either way, we seem to find our way back to each other, embracing and finding delight through fault and perfection, through chaos and ease.

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course correction

tenderness

tonight, after a particular moment in which my constant frustration over our messy house was not at all concealed, s lay down in bed, and said to me in the very saddest three-year old voice: “Mama, I feel sad when you, when you, when you… when you are sad of me.”

needless to say, i scooped that sweet, vulnerable, tender boy up into my arms and looked him in the eye and told him that i was sorry – that i wasn’t sad of him, and that he always brings me happiness. i told him i always love him, no matter what is happening.

it was a lesson i hope to really internalize, though. of course we all have a whole range of emotions, and i believe that it’s ok to process most of those with the boys.the problem is, we just don’t know how they are interpreting our outbursts and expressions of feeling, and that right there is the caution. to speak more mildly, to react with more measure, to choose words carefully and express myself with kindness and patience, even of things that are happening not from them directly, but simply around them. because even though we hugged and laughed, and snuggled, i know that fear is there… and no one planted that doubt of love except me, and that is indeed really sad.

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in balance, learning, parenting, relationship, spirit

 

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vascillation

when m was a wee thing

There are times in life when you’ve got plenty of time for indecisiveness, but here I am, about to turn 39, after a long history of infertility and pregnancy loss, and I am on the fence about whether or not to pursue trying to conceive another child.

When Ted and I met last spring, I had just pretty much come to terms with not trying again. I have more sperm from the same donor I used to conceive my twins, but single parenting (even in the context of parenting with my sister) had been much harder than I had predicted, and I haven’t gotten my financial life/ career life on any sort of track since becoming pregnant almost four years ago. I was broke, depressed, withdrawn from my friends, and constantly overwhelmed by the demands of twin toddlers and home life in general. It was clear that adding a baby was not going to be good for anyone. But then came Ted, and with him came this amazing certainty – this perspective on everything that just shifted it all. It felt clear that this family I’d been nurturing was meant to include him – it even felt (feels) like M&S were conceived to be his children – before I knew him, and before he ever knew he wanted to be a father. That’s still how it all is – even the challenges we face in creating our unique little three-parent family (including my sister as the third parent) all seem meaningful, and indeed necessary for all five of us.

Right away, Ted and I started talking about another child – which since we both have fertility issues, would be conceived from the boys’ donor. I wanted to re-experience pregnancy (particularly desirous of a singleton pregnancy!), and I know it will be a source of deep joy for him to have that arc of the growth of a baby. In September, I started calling fertility groups in our city to get pricing and make an appointment for a consultation. Even though entering into that land of hope/ grief/ potentially great outcome or terrible loss/ constant mental and emotional strain really daunted me, I knew that there were really only two cycles, and then that would be it – either I’d have gotten pregnant, or not.  It wasn’t going to be years long like the 15 before my boys came into the world. I could do it; I was getting ready.

But then came October. Weeks spent touching life and the possibility of death. Lots of perspective. Lots of praying and thinking. In the midst of all that, Ted and I had a late-night, whispered conversation about baby. About why it should be important to create a new life for us, when we both already and for long, long years have recognized the great need of parentless children for loving families. It’s not like either of us is attached to genetics – and here we were, losing my brother because of a genetic disease I also have. So in those charged moments, that late and dark night, thinking of my brother, of tragedy, of love, and family, we basically said no, we didn’t need to have the pregnancy experience and all of the stress and risk involved in creating and living that for me – that adoption of a baby as our next step, and not a future post-conceiving and birthing a baby myself/ourselves, was the course of most “rightness” for our family.

That took a lot of pressure off. No more worrying about the impending doom of FOURTY YEARS OLD and the surrounding reality of further-diminished fertility. Knowing that I’d never again have to start down the barrel of the gonalF needle, the trans-vag untrasound, and best of all, the home pregnancy test. I wouldn’t have to worry about preterm labor, of what would happen this time with my ability of nurse exclusively, no worries about how I would care for my boys and care for myself and a new baby…. that was just all gone.

And then yesterday. I was looking at newborn pictures of M & S, and later my sister brought home photos of a wee 11-day old baby… and it all came back. The irrational willingness to put it all back on the table. The longing for the whole scope of it – the first ultrasound, feeling the baby move within my own body, the swell of the belly, the magic of sharing that with my sons, with my partner, with my whole family and community. The potential of having a natural childbirth. Nurse another baby, even if it was again complicated. It all pulled me very strongly back to the table.

There’s nothing to do but sit with it. To be here with this deep desire, knowing that either path is fine. I feel certain that we will adopt, but it would probably take several years to arrive at a point of enough stability to make that happen. Will we try to conceive? I really don’t know. I don’t even know if the risks are acceptable, thinking about me being pregnant again. There’s enough attachment to wanting, though, to be clear that this is not a closed subject.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in relationship

 

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old silver enso

old silver beach

 

We’ve been on the East Coast since early August, enjoying and enduring in equal measure lots of unstructured time. The past year has been like that for me – being happy, content, and engaged in the present moment has been deeply challenging. Is it ADD? Perpetual exhaustion? Personal failure? It seems like it’s just this unending struggle I’ve entrenched myself into. I cut out more and more – trying to do less multi-tasking has been the main thing I’ve focused on, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging, and have spent much less time staring at facebook to name just a couple of things. It’s been freeing, but it has cost me a lot of communication with friends and family. In this world of increased demand on packing every minute with multiple actions and priorities, my decision (which wasn’t even really a conscious one) to just do one thing at a time has been quite impactful in both positive and negative ways. It’s also been harder than I imagined before becoming a parent to be consistently and joyfully and imaginatively engaged with my young children.

Anyway, the enjoyment of our vacation here on Cape Cod has been abundant. My boys – just newly three years old – are so full of vitality, curiosity, questions, repetition, imagination, driven exploration… it’s so much fun to get out of the daily grind at home and spend hours and hours outside.

In general, we try to keep things simple and cheap. We stick to the little woodsy lake beach a mile from my childhood home rather than pay $20 a day (which for us ends up being more like 2 hours) for ocean beach parking. This one day, however, we decided to spring for the parking, and let me say it was well worth it. Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth is a delight with small children, particularly at low tide. The shallow water was peaceful and lots of fun, and sand structures left over from other beach-goers provided so much fun to the boys – what looked like a giant hole surrounded by castles became a nest for my two nature lovers. Tidal pools filled with rocks didn’t attract the attention of other kids, so it gave my two firecrackers a place to throw rocks to their hearts content.

After tracing an enso in the sand at Old Silver, I thought I’d use this time without inks, desk space, or special papers to simply observe and create enso in my environment.

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in artistic expression, balance, daily enso, parenting

 

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daily enso: three

blue enso circle

permeated

 

playing with color in creating enso. blue and green on the table, painting with maxy: a lovely way to combine some creative time with mama time. i made a lovely, big enso that got left on the table, and the word i’d had in mind was permeable, as that day i was feeling emotionally out-of-sorts, unbalanced, troubled. the boundary around my being felt shaky. truth be told, i’ve been in a rather shaky state for a number of months. more on that later.

i left the wet enso on the table, and shoghi came over to check out our work. in the process, the watercolor paint on all of them was smeared, and really, i felt that this only added to the depiction. i have always enjoyed the impact of externals on the creative process, and i enjoy how sharing my designated meditative space with my world changes the outcome.  i don’t particularly seek to create anything flawless, in life or art.

interestingly, intent is a key element of creating a circle. did you know that? children actually pass through a developmental stage where they acquire enough muscle control and cognitive intention to draw (or paint, as the case may be) a circle. you can see that altough max and i both use our right hands and both of us begin these at the bottom, my enso is painted clockwise, while his is counter-clockwise.  significant? doesn’t really matter – it’s just part of the reflection.

green enso circle painted by toddler

toddler's enso

 

The Circle Game (excerpt) BY MARGARET ATWOOD

The children on the lawn
joined hand to hand
go round and round
each arm going into
the next arm, around
full circle
until it comes
back into each of the single
bodies again
They are singing, but
not to each other:
their feet move
almost in time to the singing
We can see
the concentration on
their faces, their eyes
fixed on the empty
moving spaces just in
front of them.
We might mistake this
tranced moving for joy
but there is no joy in it
We can see (arm in arm)
as we watch them go
round and round
intent, almost
studious (the grass
underfoot ignored, the trees
circling the lawn
ignored, the lake ignored)
that the whole point
for them
of going round and round
is (faster
       slower)
going round and round

 

 

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daily enso: two

black enso circle

protection

Day two. Learning the brush, feeling the beginning of the stroke the lower right, the lift of the brush to completion. I love this!

These days, one of my protections is my love, Ted, who steps into his recognition of himself as the bringer of love to the world hour after hour of the day. His presence helps me feel my borders more keenly, and recognize the stillness within. For him, then, this enso, and this poem.

 

It is love that brings happiness to people.
It is love that gives joy to happiness.
My mother didn’t give birth to me, that love did.
A hundred blessings and praises to that love.

~Rumi

 

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