Today was a small day, yet a rich one. A good one, some may say. It started out at 1 am – me hearing the elusive mouse scratching around in the cupboard. I woke Sean, who woke Thor, who waggled his tail nubbin while Sean tore every jar out of the pantry, every pan off the shelf, every bag from the crannies, and all the drawers from their sliders. We hunted so hard we woke the baby, who promptly ate and wide-eyed allowed me to stay awake with her a little longer. Probably until she felt she had in fact helped in the hunt. The hunt that ended in a whispered shout of, “Get it. Get it, get it, Thor. Yahhhhhh! He got it. Good boy.” And more whispers to tell him, “Off the carpet. Don’t eat it on the carpet!”
The excitement of the hunt made me forget. Forget that I had a 9am meeting with a new mother to try and answer some questions and bolster her courage in caring for her little one. So instead of sauntering around the garden, I found myself hopping over strewn-out drawers and bags and everything-stored-that-now-lay-on-the-floor, getting Cedar and I ready in record time. We bounced down the road. It was a hard visit. Not full of all the joys that new motherhood should bring. The brokenness of broken men contorting that joy – robbing the happiness. Yet it was real and raw. Cedar cried most of the time. Mad I wasn’t playing with her. Frustrated her morning routing was off. Teething? Or maybe that stuffy nose had her flustered. Either way, we showed this new momma that babies cry. And it’s okay. We try to help them and love them and are patient. Babies cry. And then they stop.
We returned home to the torn-apart-sanctuary where I knew she would settle and my mind would have space to hear what was going on with her. So we did. And she cooed and laughed. And her father scooped her up to play because you just can’t leave that cuteness laying on the bed by herself. He played while I cleaned and prepped dinner. He planted in the garden, while Cedar kicked in the bouncy chair. I wiped down cupboards and organized the pantry while Thor lazed in the sun of perfect warming temperature. We were together and apart. Connected and each in a blissful moment of aloneness. It was warm.
Visitors came. I slipped away from nursing the baby, and slipped her into bed, and then I was out the door to chat and catch up. And when the baby woke up, she got a fresh diaper, a sweater, and joined her father in the garden as dusk tickled the treetops. Into the bouncy chair as Thor manned his post at her side. With a “Stay with the baby,” he glanced at the baby every time, and settled his tuckus to wait and watch. She waited for her momma to take a shower, as she watched the light change the papaya’s leaves from green, to yellow, to pinkish-orange. She watched her daddy plant lettuce and pull weeds and clean the chickens’ water. Thor watched for snakes and mice and dragons, as he watched chubby legs move chu-chu-chu across the chair’s noisy fabric.
The roasted chicken and fresh green beans filled our bellies as the last shreds of sunlight tangoed with the new flickering flames along our walls. The health of it filling our bellies and fueling our conversation.
And then the baby cries and its time to wind down. Down to our bed she goes. Off with her diaper. Up go her legs. She coos, then giggles as her eyes scan for lights. Momma picks up her glow-worm, looking for a place to store him out of the crib. But baby’s eyes are looking, so I prop up the worm and push the pink belly. On goes the light and lullabies. Cedar rolls her body toward that glowing worm’s face. Intent and studying. Rapt attention with those hidden blue eyes. Her body quiets as her senses heighten. Watching. Listening. Enjoying. Feeling. Being. I crawl onto the bed behind her. She feels my presence and rolls her head slightly towards me, as if to say, “Oh, hi. There’s my mom,” and promptly rolls it back towards Mrs. Worm. And I lie there, behind her. Watching her pull her legs into her belly and swing her feet around. Watch her reach her hand to the worm’s face. Reaching to touch, to feel, to grasp. And I watch her coo and squeal when she looks away, but watch her stillness as she stares.
After she’s filled with songs and light and lullabies, I fill her more as I lean over her. My arms alongside hers. My face hovering over hers. Her legs pushing on my chest and neck and torso. Her toes squeezing my skin. I sing and she smiles. My voice goes low and she giggles. I squeak and she follows. And we sing for a bit. Then I take out a book. A silly, little book without a plot. I read it – all 24 words of it – then declare it silly to her and return it to the shelf for something with more meat – The Lion King. And I sprawl on my back, staring at the roof, just like her. Our heads together, our eyes lifting. I read and she listens – for about 1/3 of the story. Then her moans let me know it’s time for pjs and diapers, swaddles and rocking.
As I get her all arranged, her napping on the love seat father stirs and asks, “Are you okay, mom?”
“Oh I’m good. Momma is very good.” And I return to my snuggles and swaying. After we sway for a moment, we rock in our squeaky chair, then she eats and drifts to sleep. I read a few pages of my book. Enjoying words and snuggles, baby and pages. Once the baby is tucked into her bed, I boil some water and brew a cup of tea. A perfect cup of tea to match the breezy, warm air that sways in and out of our windows. Moving and warming, cooling and soothing. Sean climbs into bed, as I pull out my computer. It is these moments that need capturing. More than a photo. More than a video. More capturing than a fight, or the sleepless night, or the frustrated cries. It is the quiet, still, calm, and enrapturing moments that threaten to be engulfed by the large and loud and wild moments if we don’t take notice.
So here I am. With tea and keyboard, candlelight and chirping crickets. To record. And be. To know and remember. So I shall.