A milestone happened in our house on Tuesday night. M rolled over for the first time! All babies eventually turn over, and milestones are meaningful for every single one of them. I get that. This moment holds something more to me, though. O has had gross and fine motor delays for much of his life, starting from when he was very young. PT and OT have been a part of his journey (and mine — there have been many, many, many appointments). On paper, he’s still quite a bit “behind” for his age based on what other kids of a similar age can “typically” do. In time, he’ll get there. I have long felt mom guilt over his delays, however. Many a time I have wondered if my well intentioned parenting choices caused them. We didn’t really do tummy time as I didn’t believe in pushing him to be in positions he couldn’t get into himself. I let him be the lead, and I continue to do so to this day. Eventually, we found out he had low muscle tone, and that it was likely the culprit. But, despite knowing that, my anxiety doesn’t let me hear it. I don’t want that same journey for M. I don’t want those same struggles. So, I keep doing with her all that I hardly did with O… as if in some kind of hail mary attempt to avoid it. But, as hard as I try (and try do I ever), her tolerance for it is achingly minimal. Many a day she makes it happily on her tummy for less minutes that I can count on one hand. This, of course, has lead my worries to be convinced we are again on the same trajectory. And then on Tuesday she just rolled over out of the blue, as if it was the world telling me to calm the hell down. I hear you, world. I hear you. She’s got this. Happy five months, sweet girl. 💚
It’s easier this time, this maternity leave. It’s easier because, well, she’s easier. And yet, it’s so much more than that. It’s easier because “I know” now the knowledge that first time motherhood denies of you. It’s easier because second children are blessedly unfair in the understandings they afford; understandings that your first (be it you or them) would have never dared relent. It’s easier because I’m here, but FULLY here. I’ve stopped listening to the bullshit of everything outside of this, of us, and am embracing a motherly instinct and intuition. Pieces of me that I feel I only just met, but have known all along. (And for reasons I won’t elaborate on, out of not wanting this to be about it, and my hurts, it is remarkably easier because my mother is purposefully no longer in our lives.) In strange, unexplainable, and starkly tangible ways, it’s easier because of what our world has come to in the grips of this pandemic. The pressure to take the “new baby” out to socialize and to be there for happenings (despite my every inner voice of anxiety screaming in consternation and uncertainty) — it is blissfully absent. Weeks on end we stay at home, only ever leaving for long walks or to pick up O in the afternoons, and it is a peaceful balm to the introversion rooted deeply in my soul. These things didn’t require a pandemic to occur, but they are things I only (and finally) allowed of myself *because* of the pandemic. It’s easier because of time. Mothering through anxiety for five years has left me with a hardened knowing. This knowing is not here anymore to impress, or to give a damn about what’s being thought of who she is as a mother. This knowing savours honesty, embraces the mess of it all, and respects and believes in the journey EXACTLY as it is. And, let’s be real, it’s easier because of the meds. Thank you, easier. 💚
Dear me, I’m sitting here on our phone looking back at pictures you took. It’s January, 2016. You have just recently become a mom for the first time, and are six weeks postpartum. The majority of the pictures are of the babe your body created. You aren’t in many, and in those that you are, there is a purposeful effort on your behalf for the photo’s focus to be on anything else but you. But, I look to you anyways. Your face. Your hair. Your eyes. The layers that tell a story. Faint smiles, tangled curls in sloppy buns, dark circles and sleepy squints, a breast milk stained cardigan on it’s sixth day of wear. The story of a woman trying. Trying and tired, trying and unsure, trying and afraid. Ah, all that what would come in those months ahead. The countless hours of colic, the incredibly little, little sleep, the exasperation at the useless futility of everything you tried, the heart pounding anxiety at anything “gone wrong” that would envelope you in a bundle of trauma. The culmination of it all breaking you. Chasms laid wide, intrusive thoughts hungrily consuming the darkness now bare. An unspoken guilt that consumed you, perpetuating and furthering the cycle. Rinse, repeat, remorse and regret. It will be okay, I whisper to you. Gently placing my finger on your shoulder on the screen, as if it could be a hug that transcends time and instils in you the hope you didn’t have. You WILL overcome. The colic goes away, eventually. He sleeps, eventually. You get help from doctors, finally. It starts to work. The pieces come together. You find what he needs. You find what you need. Together, you thrive. You’re even crazy enough in five years to do it all over again, mental health reckonings and all. But, we figure it out that time sooner. She actually sleeps. She’s happier. She’s easier. Right now, though. It feels like you can’t breath. I know. I hear you. But, you will. We will. I promise.
Due to the ongoing/never-ending state of the world and my recent foray into #kidsbookstagram, I’ve been taking a MUCH closer look at the collection of books I have amassed for my children. In that looking, and to my shame, I have noticed something. The majority of our collection gets a FAILING grade on diversity and inclusion. I could blame this on the fact that 95% of the books we own are second hand. Furthermore, 90% have come from thrift stores like Value Village and Talize. In those instances, you pretty much get what you get. But, for the other 5% I purchased second-hand online, the same cannot be said. What it truly boils down to is this, however: I come to this realization in a position of privilege. As a white person, I’ve never had to sit down and ponder if there were enough books in our collection that represent us. I’ve never had to purposefully purchase or borrow books that represent us. White people hold this position of power. We are already in every book of nearly every type — to the point of over-saturation. People of differing colour, beliefs, abilities, sex, gender, sexual orientations – are not. All of this were things I already knew. But, did knowing it change or effect my children’s book collection? Nope. ‘Cause as a white person, these are all taken for granted luxuries of our hegemonic identity. My beliefs in a socially justice world may be strong, and I have been strongly educated as such (thanks, @douglascollege and @capilanou) but I still have so so SO much more work to do — both on myself, and in the raising of my children. Part of this is reexamining the books we own, the books were read, and the conversations that come from these books. I humbly accept this moment of learning, and am committed to making a change.
Thanks, @nwplibrary, in helping me take a first step forward today.