Letter to Oscar–Months 12 and 13

Life is not a series of gig lamps, symmetrically arranged;
Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope
Surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.

That’s a quote from Virgina Woolf, and it appears on the cover of the thesis I wrote about her in graduate school over a decade ago. A gig lamp is one of those gas lanterns that used to sit at the foot of a stage. The thesis I wrote is about the passing of time, and how Virginia Woolf believed that time is not linear. In other words, one moment is not like all of the others.

Each moment of our lives has a different length, a different weight, a different color. Each moment carries with it a different meaning. Rather than forming a tidy time line, the moments of our lives come together as a kind of tapestry.

Oscar, I used to spend a lot of time thinking about things like this. I used to live what they call a life of the mind, before you came along and tore me out of my own thoughts, grounding me in the present moment with your urgent needs and the heft and weight of your physical presence (usually clad in pajamas with sticky fingers).

In the middle of the night when I am nursing you, I watch your hand stroke your little blanket, and I think about how we will soon end this phase in our life. One day you will turn to me for comfort, and I won’t be able to give you what you want. It will be the first of many small betrayals. It’s a hard lesson to learn at so young an age, that to love someone means to not be able to give them everything they need, because of the limits of what it means to be human.

Oscar, you are a beautiful and spirited little boy. No matter what happens, you will always be the love of my life.

I love watching you change and grow and explore the world around you. I love watching you try to solve a problem. I love watching  the triumph on your little face as you figure out how to fit the square block in the square hole. You do this thing where once the block fits and slides into the hole, you hold it there for a minute before dropping it, as if savoring the moment. Instead of hoping that you have a life without challenges, I hope you have a life filled with those moments when you had a problem and figured out how to solve it.

It took me a long time to write this letter. I think the one-year mark was just too special. I wanted to have perfect pictures and I wanted to find all of the right words to express what it means to be your mother. Then I realized that most of our moments together are imperfect, out-of-focus, and fleeting, like the kind of pictures that we take and throw away. But that’s ok, because they are not really thrown away. They are all a part of the intricate and beautiful puzzle that is our life, and they are luminous.

Love, Mama

Perfect Moment Monday–Tasting the Spring

I cried during the closing ceremonies, and not because the USA Hockey Team lost to Canada in overtime.

I cried during Neil Young’s performance of “Long May You Run.” It’s not the first time I’ve cried during a song.

It was a combination of emotions. The way the Olympic games make me feel, the power of the athlete’s stories and performances, a year’s worth of sleep deprivation, and the end of February.

This time last year I was a couple weeks into recovering from childbirth, which for me was an unexpected emergency c-section. I was sore, exhausted, hormonal, depressed, and my boobs hurt from breastfeeding. My body felt completely foreign to me.

After a year, I am finally beginning to feel normal. Over the weekend, I put Oscar into his Ergo and took a walk around the block. I couldn’t get over how tired and out-of-shape a simple walk made me feel. But for the first time in years, I felt like doing something about it.

This morning I stepped outside on my way to work and there was something in the air. Maybe it was my revelation over the weekend, maybe it was the Neil Young song, maybe it was the fact that it’s March 1st. It was cold, the thermometer stood at 31 degrees, but the air had a strange liquid quality to it. There was dew on the windshield instead of ice. The air had a different smell to it. I thought of the end of the Sylvia Plath poem, “Wintering,” where she writes about bees waking up from their winter hibernation:

Winter is for women —-
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanis walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold
and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive,
will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?

What will they taste of,
the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying.
They taste the spring.

My perfect moment is that this morning,  I could taste the spring. I could feel a lengthening and stretching in my body, a reaching toward the spring, toward the summer, toward the sun. There is still snow on the ground, still three more weeks of winter, and there will still be more snow and more frigid nights and mornings. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve decided to commit myself to running a 10k race this summer. There is one on Saturday, June 26, which is roughly sixteen weeks away. I can’t wait to run again.

We’ve been through
Some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do
In stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
Have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you run.

I Capture Perfect Moments.

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