It’s almost June. That seems impossible, but there it is. In July, J will go down to half time for the rest of the summer. And by fall, I’ll be teaching. So this marks the start of my last (until next summer, at least) month of all-by-myself-just-full-time-mamahood. Though it is EXHAUSTING, I love all-by-myself-just-full-time-mamahood. I shall cherish this month, but I shall SUPER cherish July and August, when I’m working maybe ten hours a week and J and I are sharing mostly-full-time-mamahood. I shall, I guess I’m saying, cherish this summer.
We kicked the cherishing off with a visit to a nearby (five hours away) city to be with a dear old college friend and another queer family with a young kid (Cricket and her mamas!). We left for our trip a day early out of sheer excitement, driving late into the night, feeling weary but grateful. Even the traveling itself was nice, the pleasure of stillness made great in the context of the movement of early parenthood. It was LOVELY to get away, lovely to be amongst dear friends, lovely to share the work of parenting with our wider community for a few days. Bram did so well given all the upheavals of travel, and he loved loved loved seeing his beloved Cricket (as well as her mama, her momo, and his Aunt Madeline).
It has been ineffably great to watch our son grow alongside the other babies of this community. I imagine a time when our little ones (the little ones we haven’t lost; the little ones we get to see grow) are five and six and seven, and then fifteen and sixteen and seventeen. I dream of gatherings in cities, in big country houses, the amazement of the flesh-and-blood of our children, the heft of them, their non-babyness. They will grow and we will bear witness to that for one another, to these lives, to our lives as they march quickly on. These daydreams make me long for a commune, for the community, for forsaking this map that’s been drawn for us (school to more school to marriage to a house to kids to a job, everyone working, everyone busy, everyone performing the same tasks day after day, separated by mere walls from others doing the same). I just finished Lauren Groff’s Arcadia, and though their intentional community fails, the relationships fostered amongst the community’s children made my heart soar and hunger and wish wish wish I knew how to give that to Bram. Jax bought me a book on creating intentional communities. She is kind and encouraging, though she’s actually lived in collective housing so she knows the pitfalls. I’m all idealism, which is maybe necessary to ever making it happen. But it probably won’t ever happen. I mean, this is the window for our particular family. This is the fork in the road. Right now, we could go anywhere. We could live the American dream as fully as possible or forsake it entirely, refuse to dedicate ourselves to making a living above all else. We are, right now, likely as free as we’ll ever be. We could decide almost anything. But that window will close. In October, another jobs list will come out. Maybe I’ll get interviews. Maybe I’ll get offers. Maybe we’ll follow that path into the solid well-educated middle class. Probably. But in my heart I keep thinking: maybe we won’t.
Anyway, there’s great goodness here, and though I’ve been a terribly absent blogger, I wanted to get some of it in writing before it leaves my awareness. Cool spring walks when I’ve dressed not quite warmly enough and the chilly air feels tingly on my legs or arms. Warm and cold rain. Thunderstorms and tornadoes that have taken us to the basement at midnight and reminded us of how little we really need. Though she’s a horrible cat in the litter box territory (she’s decided the whole basement is her box; we are working night and day to fix this), Iris has never once so much as scratched Bram, though he torments her no end. When he falls asleep at night, she curls up next to his body, her small warmth against his, apparently grateful for his stillness. There’s been plenty of asparagus and early basil and there’s reason to hope for a good growing season. For abundance.
But there’s still sadness. J had a doula-client intake last night, and Bram took a dog’s age to fall asleep, and I fell asleep too, at the end, so that when I woke awhile later in a quiet, dark, still house I felt as if my heart had been cut in two. I felt the weight of loss so keenly that I had to focus all that I had on just breathing until it passed. But it did pass. As do the phantom-belly moments, those horrible stretches of time where I imagine with shocking clarity my body expanding with Love Child’s, her absence more palpable in contrast with the easy-to-come-by fantasy of her heartbeat, her body swelling mine, the quickening I’ll never feel. I avoided dear friends in the park yesterday because they’re about as far along as we should be, and I thought that if I saw her belly the ground would swallow me whole. Friends with connections to our once-upon-a-time-Sailor sent us two photos of his ever-growing self, and I’ve barely even responded because he is both Saul and not Saul and it’s too much to know what to feel. We went out for our first-ever-as-parents-full-evening-date, taking in dinner and the Moth, which just happened to come to our city, and the last storyteller was a lesbian mama who had suffered a failed post-placement adoption. It was like the air was swept out of the room as she spoke. I wanted to run away, but I could only listen with the horror of knowing. She and her wife have split up. Loss is not for the faint of heart of marriage. We came away raw: J angry, me confused. We struggle through the sadness to find one another, and time and again we do. I am proud of us.
So as is always true, there is both pain and sweetness. Dear family members struggling with dark depression, the feeling of helplessness in the face of that. Of loving them from too far away. Of wanting and not knowing how to help. Sisters finding their graceful way to ten years of marriage, and a deep understanding of the profound surrender and gut-work of that. And through it all, Bram growing, the delight of this new phase surpassing those that came before: the plentiful smooches he offers us, the kissing noise he’s learned to make, the feel of his lips on our arms, our necks, our mouths, our bellies. His unwavering sweetness and the sense that it is going so fast and the awe that never leaves: the we.created.this godliness of it all, which is only humbling, despite how it sounds.
Nap-time is ending. I feel immense love for you all today. And gratitude. I think that perhaps we’re all more graceful than we feel ourselves to be.
Some travel-images. All jumbled up and out of order, but full of love.
Bram + his astonishingly beautiful (inside and out) Aunt Madeline.
Bram + mama + lunch.
Is it even possible that he’s already this grown?
One of my favorites.
We (J, MJB, and I) got tattoos. Different passages from Mary Oliver’s “Heavy.” This is J’s.
Friend-date. This is what I mean above about commun(ity).
Beloved (& gorgeous!) family.friends.
Good clean days.
J breastfeeding our boy at the tattoo parlor.
This goofy face.
My Mary Oliver.
Water table family.
My favorite mos: momo + pomo.