Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17, 2010

Dear Oliver,
Before you were born your daddy and I would muse about what characteristics of ours we hoped you would inherit. "I hope he has your lips," I'd say. "Your lips and your eyes...but my skin." Daddy would wish for my teeth and his height. We agreed that we wanted you to be outgoing like me and musical like him. Some days your dad would hope you'd arrive as a big bundle of me, but with bright blue eyes and some days I realized that his generosity, sensitivity and sensibility were what we should really hope for. Neither of us had the foresight to ask for my appetite and either of our sleeping habits. Oops.

When you were pulled from my tummy and into the bright lights of your new world we would stare at you and try to identify where you'd come from. "Definitely your nose," your daddy would announce triumphantly. "And the shape of your eyes, but the color of mine. Perfect." I would nod and smile at his appraisals, but wouldn't play along. From the moment you were born any preconceived notions of inherited traits were swept aside. From the moment you arrived you were no longer bits of me and him, but simply you. Entirely, wholly, beautifully and frustratingly you.

And so it has continued. Others see you as your daddy in miniature. Occasionally I'll hear that you have my smile. Your grandma says you look like her when you're happy, then pauses to say that I looked just like her as a baby, so she supposes you look like me, too. And once in awhile I'll get a glimpse of your dad - both of you making the same face as he dances with you, or scrunching your nose the same when offered corn - and on very rare occasions, I see myself peering out your bright blue eyes. (Yesterday, when you woke up from your nap I was sure I was looking at a photo of myself as a child.) But for the most part I just take you at face value - your own unique face.


Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010

Dear Oliver,
Something is brewing. Perhaps a storm is forming. Clouds are swirling as winds pick up - deep grays and a strange green hue at the edge of the horizon, signifying a change in the weather. Or it maybe it's just a fresh pot of coffee, hot water dripping slowly through sopping grounds, rich scent wafting around the corners of my mind, shouting "wake up! greet the day!" Either way, change is in the air.

I feel today, like I'm on the cusp of an awakening. Like the foggy edges of my dreams are just starting to pick up nudges of reality. As though there's a sudden awareness of a soft pillow at my head, of daylight creeping in, that the noise of an alarm clock (or let's be honest - a crying baby) has seeped into my sleep, blending lines between the conscious and unconscious. I feel like I'm about to start a new day for the first time in 14 months - for the first time since you've been born.

In some ways I have been asleep for the duration of your life. Don't get me wrong - I've had my eyes wide open and have been fully present for so much of you. I've been drinking you in, enveloping you as you simultaneously fill me, but there's a part of me - the creative side, the selfish side - that has been unconscious. I haven't done for me in a year. Haven't had but 1 haircut, haven't bought a single pair of uncomfortable shoes or a top that I couldn't nurse in. I haven't knit a blanket or a sweater (or even a hat!) since you've been born. Haven't painted a picture and until so recently haven't written hardly a word. Long ago I shut myself down and went on autopilot until I had successfully navigated through our early days together. I needed to be consumed by you and truth be told, I wanted to. But there's a yearning within me today for something more.

I don't know what I'm going to find when I open my eyes and greet this new day. I just know I want to create. For a moment I thought I'd learn to sew, learn to quilt and make beautiful things from scraps of fabric. I got a machine for my birthday in May, but it sits, still in the box it was shipped in, forgotten. I tell myself that I don't have the materials I need to get started, or the know-how. And that's true. But mostly I don't have the drive. No, not now. Not sewing.

Surprisingly knitting hasn't really crept to the surface either. Perhaps because it's so very time consuming and I know how little time I have to be consumed. Unlike when I first picked up the needles, after losing your siblings (sisters, I think), when I needed a deliberate, repetitive, meditative craft to simultaneously help me remember and help me forget what I was going through, today I need quick bursts of creation. A finished product to rejoice in.

I announced to your grandma the other day that I was going to take a creative writing class, like the one I took back in college. The one in which I was the only college student (on a Saturday morning - why was I surprised?) surrounded by real life adults who were there, learning and writing, not for class credit but just for joy and expression. But my search for a workshop hasn't yielded much. Unless I get a babysitter or an unexpected inheritance I don't think classes are in my future.

I don't want to exercise, I can't afford to shop. I might want to cook (do you know I almost went to culinary school once? so long ago?) but it's hard to be passionate about food when your husband and baby don't want to eat anything more than pancakes or toast. (In my next life I'm marrying a Frenchman, not a Brit.) It might be in photography, but I need to re tune my eyes to find simple beauty before I can click click click that shutter.

I wonder if this yearning to create is something deeper - if what I really have is baby fever. I wonder if things were different (finances or anatomy) if we'd be embarking on this mad journey all over again already. Because I feel it, for sure. But is the baby fever a manifestation of my desire to create or have I repressed my hopes for a growing family and am now seeing them struggle up to the surface in other ways? And does it matter?

I don't know where I'm going with this or how to get there. And I don't know how to attempt to balance you on one hip and passion and creativity on the other. But I hope to learn and soon. I hope to stand in this storm as it grows and feel it's cold, refreshing rain wash down on my tired face as it renews me. I hope to drink deep from this cup and feel the hot, bitter coffee warm me from the inside as it awakens me. It's time. Time to wake up.