You will be 21 months old on May 4th. Something has happened over the past month or two. It’s as though you’ve leapt forward developmentally and are suddenly a full-blown little kid and no longer a baby. I still call you baby though. I’ll always call you baby. “Careful! Don’t knock the baby over!” “What’s wrong, baby?” “Baby, are you tired?”
You run, you jump, you dance, you climb and you hold our hands. You took your Dad’s hand the other day and walked him all the way to the park. You’re extremely fond of Ella’s Organic fruit and veggie baby food pouches despite my early attempts to steer clear and you love goldfish, the library, slides and swings, sticks, rocks (I just taught you how to say rocks last week!), eggs (you call them “edds!”), reading books, bubbles, bath time, building towers out of anything you can find and sidewalk chalk. Basically you’re as cute as it gets these days.
Your words are starting to come more and more each day. You play ‘hide and seek’ with us by hiding behind couch cushions, pillows and chairs. We say, “Mooooosessssss! Mossssessss! Where did Mo go?” until you giggle hysterically and pop up. You then say to us, “Mo go! Mo go!” or “MoZZZis!” when you want us to keep playing. We’re pretty sure you think “Mo go” and “Mozis” are the names of the game.
You sleep through the night well now for the most part and that helps a lot. When we go on vacation or when you’re sick or teething it throws you off a bit but we get back on track eventually. We’re starting to think about potty training and as we approach the two year mark we’ve been talking about sending you to “school” in the fall. I visited Ruffing Montessori yesterday morning and loved it. I’m working on your application so we can put you on the wait list because I think you would love the teachers and kids there and it’s walking distance from our house.
Your Dad is finishing up his last week of work at the hospital and then he’ll be starting school full-time at Youngstown State! Three years of physical therapy school will be a wild ride for all of us I’m sure but it’s a huge step towards our long-term goals of owning a business, living on a farm and having a sibling or two for you perhaps. I go back and forth on that last goal. Some days I think I HAVE to have another baby because howcouldinot??? And then, on other days, I think you’re all that we need and things are great with us as a trio. Either way it will be as it’s meant to be.
I’ve been working at Cleveland Yoga more since the start of the year and I’m now in the eighth month of my program at Malone. I’ll be finished in November. It’s going well for the most part but I’ll be happy when it’s over. The courses are one at a time for five weeks a piece and they’re very intensive. I study at night after you’re asleep. The things I’m learning about business and leadership are valuable and interesting but it can be time consuming and difficult when I’ve already spent the day with you or worked at Cleveland Yoga and I’m tired. I’m keeping my eyes on the prize. Long-term thinking has never been a strong suit for me but I’m changing all of that. It’s a growing experience and it’s not easy but nothing worth having is easy, as they say.
It’s been a very long, hard winter and though that kind of makes me sound like a homesteader – it’s true. Cleveland has been anxiously awaiting warmer days and I think they’re finally here. We’ve worn shorts a couple of times over the past week and we’re excited to go on vacation with the entire Nelson clan in two weeks to Florida. I’m hoping this summer is filled with long days in the backyard and at the beach. You love playing outside and never want to come in. You’ll gather river rocks in a bucket from the driveway and carry them around or find a big stick in the plant beds and run around the yard with it. It doesn’t take a whole lot to make you happy. By the end of the day when we bring you inside you’re covered in mud with skinned knees and you’re crying because you’re so angry at us for putting an end to your fun.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships. The ups and the downs. As I was driving home from work last night I was struck by how grateful I am that even as life dips and lifts and twirls, I get to come home to you. And to your Dad. And to our home that we’ve built together. The sun was shining really bright this week-end and the front door was open so it spilled onto the tile in the foyer and and even though there’s no ‘welcome’ mat there it was such a welcoming moment. I was just looking at the tile and the sun in that entrance and thinking about how much I love to come home. How much I love this place. This life. This family.
The world spins around us but we are always grounded in each other. We have highs and we have lows. We go to battle and we sign peace treaties. We are the strongest, steeliest armor and we are the most terrifying vulnerability. We are the darkness in this world and we are the light that heals the world. We are all of that.
Sitting on the couch with your Dad last night – he on one end and me on the other – talking over things both emotional and heavy and then ending in lightness and laughter – I am reminded again of that great lesson I learn from my yoga mat: Everything eventually passes. You just have to hold on and breathe. There is suffering in the attachment to one end of the spectrum or the other. There is peace in the trusting acceptance of whatever comes and whatever goes.
Carlo Levi once wrote, “The future has an ancient heart”. No matter how old I get or how much I go through in life I am always still the product of my childhood self. I am a woman and a mother and an adult member of our society who has places within her heart which are still naming tiny tadpoles found in forest streams and writing fragmented poetry in journals decorated with rainbows. That child was wonderful and of course, wildy ‘child-like’. Unfortunately, she doesn’t stay back there in the 1980′s and 1990′s. She lives with me every day. Sometimes she stomps her feet and throws a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way. Sometimes she gets emotional over irrational things. Sometimes she clings to fairytale dreams and forgets they are fairytale dreams. Putting her in her place is the work I am up to.
There’s something about being a mother that slaps you across the face. It’s a bucket of cold water poured right over your head before you’ve even had a chance to open your eyes in the morning. It’s glorious and disarming and unrepentant. It wraps me up in a thousand ropes so that sometimes I feel as though I cannot move and then within the next breath it unravels so completely that I feel as though I’ve been reborn.
You, my bright-eyed and curious kitten, are the catalyst for every awakened moment I experience these days. Your love and your light and your personhood are teaching me how to be a mother. Teaching me how to be a partner. Teaching me how to trust myself. Love myself. Be loyal to myself (as a student recently taught me). You are the one who continuously inspires my evolution as I shake off old and tired ways of being in exchange for the radical possibility of living in the now.
In child’s pose and half pigeon and even in warrior II sometimes I find myself flipping my palms upward. Hands open to receive. It’s so natural for me to turn my hands to the floor. So natural to close my fists. To clench. To tighten. To protect. You – and your father too – have taught me the power of an open hand. A vulnerable posture. A willing and receptive energy that says yes instead of no and “I’ll stay” instead of “I’ll go”.
Words always escape me as I end these letters because I want to sign off with unending gratitude and love beyond measure but it always feels trite in the face of my total devotion to you. You’ve eclipsed everything unworthy of our time and completely lit up everything that is.
For that kind of generosity, my love… there are no words.