Yesterday, Saturday, the boys were all out of bed before I was. Monday through Friday, I am the first one awake. I walk through the apartment and turn on a light or two, take my shower, start the coffee. The weekends are the weekends in part because I don’t have to jump out of bed. In starting to work meditation into my life it will be interesting to see how or what I change. The only quiet time in our home is when the boys are asleep. After they go to sleep, I’m too tired to put the work into sitting and meditating. That’s funny, right? Meditation IS work. Back to yesterday, it was seven when I got out of bed and as I came into the living room I see B standing on top of one of the dining room chairs “Mommy!” he yells with all the joy a five year old can muster. I go over to him and give him a hug and he exclaims “I love you mommy! I always wanted to be your mommy! No, I mean, I always wanted you to be my mommy!”
B has been thinking about this a lot. Being my son, I being his mom. Perhaps this has been a constant thought of his from the first day almost two years ago but now he brings the subject up regularly. Things have been meshing lately. I can see the weaving as it happens. B has always looked for joy. Turned his back on the painful. This still worries me a bit. Of course, I want him to be happy but I know that we cannot cover up our sadness. In any case, this is a boy who looks for the sunshine. The other day he had a small paper cut on his hand that hurt. It was dinner and we were all at the dining table. He complained for a moment about it, Y and I sympathized and then he said “Well, it hurts, but I’ll learn to live with it.” Oh my heart, my sweet boy.
Back in New York, I was always physically in pain. My head and body hurt all of the time. It was usually a dull pain but sometimes it was extreme enough to keep me in bed. On the evenings and weekends it was difficult to look past my pain and just relax and enjoy. Here, with a far shorter commute and a job that is more good than difficult my life and our family life is taking on a new dimension. Q has noted it several times. “I’m so glad you have time for us now” or “I’m so happy you’re not so tired any more mom.” This has been transformative for our entire family but none more so than B. I think in NY B was deeply unsure of where I fit in his life. I didn’t make most of his food, or get him dressed and dropped off for school. I left home before he woke up and arrived home well after his dinner, usually just in time to read him a story before he fell asleep. Now, we see each most mornings and I can usually have a bite to eat before I leave. At night we have dinner together and our weekends are happier. B is blossoming. It’s an over used hoary phrase but it is the very best word for what is going on right now. He is allowing himself to test out his love and we are growing in the warmth of his love.
For several years I had a blog. Not the same blog, but different blogs. My blogging started because of Q. I left off blogging when B came home. I was overwhelmed with the day to day responsibility of bringing this new, extraordinary child into our family. I was also at a loss for how to write about what was happening. In some ways I was drowning and one cannot write about the experience of almost going under the waves for the last time until after the crisis is over. We are finally beginning to settle in and I can begin again. There is a lot to write about. Writing is my way of bringing a structure to my life. I feel badly that I lost a couple years of writing about Q. He was 8 years old when I stopped and he’s 10 now. Oh, those years! He became an older brother. He changed from my only to my oldest. That’s big stuff. He travelled to Ethiopia. He lived without my husband and I for 10 days while we travelled to Ethiopia. He moved across country. Left his school, his friends, his summer camp and sports teams. We sold what he called “my childhood home” at the exact same time we brought home his new little brother. The exact day actually. On the same day that Q, Y, B and I stood at window of the American Embassy in Addis Ababa and answered the questions of how we came to be a family, a lawyer in a small river town represented us at our closing and handed over the keys to the first house we had ever owned. Did I mention coming home felt like I was drowning? Of course we didn’t plan it that way. We had found a home we liked that had an extra bedroom and bathroom, a bigger yard, a great playroom, a master bedroom in a better neighborhood. The seller of this sweet house, was not exactly honest and in the end, we lost the house the same week we flew to Ethiopia for the first time. Between trips we searched our small town for a place to rent and packed up our home. This loss, which was to us at the time, catastrophic, eventually meant we were free to move back to the Midwest in a way we would not have been if we had moved into the home we wanted to buy. Now, today, two years later, on this cold winter Sunday, while the boys have walked over to the park to ice skate, now I am happy it all happened. At the time however, we suffered. Q handled the changes with a grace that showed a maturity far beyond his years. He continued to do well in school and a day didn’t go by where he didn’t make me laugh out loud. I am on FB and I write sometimes about Q’s wonderful take on life. Those wee writings disappear into the ether of the internet. Here however I come back to make note. He is here. My oldest. He is 10. He is extraordinary. I cannot let more time go by without stopping to wonder at this growing boy. Today and every day, I thank the universe for making me his mom.
On Thursday, my mother came to our apartment to take care of the boys while I and Yancey were working. One of the main reasons we moved back to the Midwest from New York was that living hundreds of miles away from any family was extremely difficult and getting harder as the boys got older. Over the past 10 years my mother had flown out to New York to help us out several times. We are not what I would call an exceptionally close family. We do not spend hours on the phone talking to each other every day. We don’t plan vacations together year after year. We don’t even particularly know what each other are doing regularly or how work is going or how the children are doing in school. We do however, rely on each other. Both of my boys adore my parents and my mom and dad and are still very active and great role models for Q & B. We now live an hour away from the town I grew up in and where my parents still live. It was lovely coming home from work and being able to have dinner with B and my mom and dad. Q had won a chance to be a ball boy for the local college’s basketball team and so he and Y were out. B had the chance to have his mom and grandparents all to himself. He relished the opportunity but after awhile he asked to watch a video and I agreed so that the grownups would have a few minutes to ourselves. My mom made a wonderful roasted butternut squash pasta and we had a chance to talk. From the outside, our little family moment would seem a small thing. Three adults and one child eating dinner. I thought as I ate, this is it. This is why we worked so hard to uproot ourselves from our beloved little town on the river. This casual weeknight supper. I remember, back in New York, a friend of Q’s coming for a play date a year or so ago. It was the first time he stayed at our house without his family. He and Q stayed up in the music room on their own, talking and laughing. Later we had dingier together. I think we had hot dogs or something equally kid loved. That year this child had happened to go to Disney World twice, went in to New York City to meet a teen idle one day and met an olympian athlete on another day. His mother is a blogger and gets to do some really fun things as a result of her blog. We enjoyed having him over and loved watching he and Q together, laughing the way 8 year olds do. The next day his mother told me that when she asked if he had enjoyed the play date he told her that it was the best day of his life. I understood. It is the best of times to be with friends and family who are friends, who love you for you. To sit and share a simple meal, where no one has spent days planning, shopping, preparing and cooking all to meet expectations that have been driven to some unreachable plateau. To simply sit, share food, listen and be listened to, is a rare thing in our modern lives. This year I am planning on spending more time sitting around our table with friends new and old. We are all we have. Our time together is short. I regret that I did not do that more often when we lived in New York. Invite friends over regularly for simply cooked food, nourishing and easily prepared so that we spend our time sitting, talking, laughing and sharing. This is my intention for the year. Food, friends and family. Happy 2013.
January 3, 2013
Yesterday at work, the little reminder on my calendar kept popping up “Call B.” I kept putting it off for 5 minutes and then another 5 minutes as various people stopped into my office. Finally at 3:30, half an hour late I dialed the preschool’s number. I had told B I would call him every Monday and Friday, after he complained for weeks that a little girl’s mother called her every day. It didn’t seem like the teacher would want every child’s parent calling in every day and so I ignored his request. Finally, I spoke with first the director of the school and then his teacher and they both said it was fine. Yesterday was not Monday or Friday, but it was his first day back at school and I wanted to check on him. After speaking to his teacher for a couple minutes she called B to the phone.
With the sounds of laughter and pre-k full on playtime in the background I heard B’s sweet voice
“Hey, sweetie! How are you?”
“I’m fine,” then he giggles the sweetest giggle. “Mama, how come you’re calling now? You said you would call on Mondays and Fridays?”
So often I am caught completely off guard by his maturity. He is a conundrum.
“I’m calling because it’s your first day back after vacation and it’s a special day and I wanted to hear how you are doing”
As I’ve been talking there are shrieks of delight in the background and I hear B, obviously holding the phone a few inches away from his face
“Precious!” He says in stern but still sweet voice “Please be quieter! I am trying to talk to my mommy on the phone!”
I hear Precious say very softly, “Ooh, sorry…”
A couple minutes later he is back playing with his friends and I am back to work. Just a couple of minutes on the phone with my B and my world is set right again.
January 2, 2013
5:57 am. I am sitting on the toilet lid (fully clothed, not actually using the toilet — just saying) in the little bathroom near the kitchen, with my laptop on my knees. I’m half way dressed, still need tights and shoes and I need to blow dry my hair. The boys and Y are asleep at the other end of the apartment. Usually in the morning, I sit at either the kitchen table or in the little room between the kitchen and the bathroom that was once a maid’s bedroom but is now what we call B’s room. The kitchen is a mess from the holidays; the table covered in muffin tins and cookie cutters that have not been put away. B’s room is the room where the unpacked boxes from our move have landed. It is incredibly small but there is usually enough space to put a cushion on the floor and a candle on the edge of the bookshelf and its fine for now as a place to meditate. At the moment however, there are large plastic bins that hold our Christmas decorations for most of the year but are now empty and waiting for the Christmas stuff to be taken down and stored again and so not even room for a cushion.
I have no idea what this blog will be called a year from now. I tend to change the name of my blogs as my life changes but for now, little zen seems about right. I work a full-time job outside of my home, forty to fifty hours a week. I spend a couple of hours a day getting to that job. I have two children, ages 5 and 10 and a husband. We have recently moved across country and some of our things are still in storage. Even so, there is time enough to sit and think. Contemplate. Plan. Create a little bit of zen, or better moments of zen that eventually lead to …well, that’s the question or rather the journey.
January 1, 2013
It is cold and sunny and I sit at my desk looking out our fourth floor window. The boys have gone off to skate for the first time at a park a few blocks away and so the apartment is quiet and I have a few moments to myself to note today and my good fortune. I am worn down by the responsibilities of motherhood and life. Working at a new job. Living in a new community hundreds of miles from the place that has been home for the last decade and where, in truth, my heart still feels like it lives. But I am grateful, thankful for it all. The longing, the heartache from missing old friends, the exhaustion of the end of the holidays with two young boys. Thank you universe for this tiredness. Thank you for my boys, my husband, my mom and dad and the rest of my family. Thank you for our turmoil, because it means we care. Thank you for longing, let that longing create the energy to make new beautiful things happen in our lives. Thank you for our friends who inspire and encourage us with their actions and their love. Thank you for the technology and the wonder of being able to meet people we might never have met without access to a computer. Thank you for the lit candle and the clean desk I sit at, even if that is the only clean thing in our apartment at the moment. Thank you for this new life, this new beginning, this now. I am grateful. I am blessed.
And so I begin.