Celestial Lights

When you have a child, you begin to do everything one handed. Best practice or no, everything is a multi-task, like juggling with one hand while doing dishes with the other. I can’t count how many times I have lamented my ignorance about appreciating free time before I had kids. It’s not that I want that back, I just wish I knew what I had when I had it. Now, everything, from switching the laundry to reading a book, only comes into being after negotiating with, or trickily dodging, a toddler.

Now, pregnant with my second baby, the pregnancy itself is taking a backseat to that negotiation. When I was pregnant with Maya, everything about the experience was in sharp, closely examined focus. It was magical; it was scary; it was uncomfortable; it was beautiful. But everything that it was was clearly in front of me at all times. It was the sun that everything else spun around; it colored my days with its new take on how to live, move, breathe, and be.

We have only remembered to take a picture of this pregnancy twice. Once at 17 weeks, then again at 32 weeks!
We have only remembered to take a picture of this pregnancy twice. Once at 17 weeks, then again at 32 weeks!

Now, sometimes, I forget that I am pregnant. And I am pretty far along at seven months. It is another thing that does not get my full attention, just like work, writing, household matters, husband. I do not mean to sound like I am complaining about life with Maya – it is neither unpleasant nor difficult – she is a happy, relatively easy kid who has a good routine and is cooperative, most of the time. But she does need me and her dad and her nana and her gigi, and that’s cool. She is helpful in the way that a windstorm is helpful when folding laundry or sweeping the floor, but the fun, learning, and building of good habits makes it better and not tedious or frustrating (usually).

This morning, I managed to squeeze in some pre-natal yoga before Maya woke up, and the directives of “place one hand on your baby” and “breathe into your baby” snapped me into awareness of how often I am not doing this with this second pregnancy. I am aware of this new life, and I really enjoy that we have reached the stage of big, obvious movements that catch and hold my attention, but being pregnant has become part of our routine and has been swept along in the nuts and bolts of our day. The pregnancy is not a new experience to be marveled, or the sun around which everything else spins. It is more like one of the planets – part of the team, but just another thing in line with everything else in our solar system.

We are not finding out the gender of baby number two, and I think this has contributed to “it” (I hate that) not being a real person yet. But we did, recently, decide on a name for each possibility, and that has made a difference in my perspective. It is evolving from a routine pregnancy, at which I am old hat, to an identifiable baby – my little May baby girl or boy.

I will begin to carve out some time to talk directly to him/her and not just have him/her listening in on the conversations I have with Maya. I realize that very soon, he/she will be here and be swept into our routine. But he/she will also make some big changes, and Maya, the sun, will have to take a backseat and help to warm the new babe. Maya will grow a little and learn to share being the center of the universe, which can only be good for both celestial lights.

So for now, as the weeks wind down, I will place one hand on my belly and breathe into the baby, practice saying each name out loud, and try to appreciate how easy it has been to do everything with only one kid.



It’s Just Words

This morning, as I drove Maya to Nana’s house, she asked me (as she does 4,987,003 times per day) to tell her a Hero and Baymax story (formerly an Anna and Elsa story), and I said, “Not right now, honey, I’m listening to a story on the radio right now. I will later.”

And her reply? “Mama, it’s just words.”

I am not exactly sure whether she was referring to what I was listening to (like the radio story was just words, not something to prioritize over the fictional adventures of the Big Hero 6 characters), or whether she saw through my excuse to try and avoid the exhausting task of coming up with a plot and moral off the top of my head countless times per day. I know that she would be just as happy if I kept things simple and occassionally told the same story over and over, but I feel the need to make each story meaningful, if not always complex.

(Now that I write this, I realize that I really should get a few plot lines down and repeat them with slight variation – it would benefit me because I would not feel constant creative strain, and her because she would hear those roles and lessons over and over, just as she likes to reread her actual books over and over.)

Her words caught me. I was already scolding myself internally for turning down my darling daughter’s request for a story – I mean her desire to hear a thing which I value and love so much is the highest of joys to me, but I wanted to be passive, to just listen. (To be fair, I had not yet had any coffee, so words and I had not come to a fluent agreement yet this day.)

But it felt like she was calling me out from a much more abstract and deep place. ‘Don’t be afraid of telling stories, mama, it’s just words. One word in front of another. One foot in front of the other.’ A piece of encouragement, a gentle nudge, a reminder from the universe, delivered through my toddler’s voice.

There is much to writing that is daunting: the sharing, the promotion, the business of publishing, but when it comes down to it, the raw bones of it, it’s just words, and that is where I am happy and in love.

Just go back to the words, mama. One foot in front of another.