Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Twice

It started in my mind: a vision, a truth, a reality that seemed fleeting even as I read the markings on a Sunday evening.

A few weeks later, the markings were confirmed as waves of sound created an image that flipped and turned, as beats were magnified into 140 notes a minute and a fleck of light ticked back and forth like a metronome on the black and white screen.

Already, unsteady emotions and uncomfortable symptoms confirmed that I had not made the whole idea up. My hair shedding, my face marked like an adolescent, my appetite non-existent, my body had once again become a brilliant machine without any instruction or direction from my own intelligence--building major organs, constructing functioning systems, and nourishing the new life with no thought to my own personal discomfort or cost. This new being is now the priority. This child.

Last week I cradled my daughter under my left arm while she finger painted the gel on my belly. She tasted it, wiped it on my clothing, and questioned me with her eyes while I willingly let a total stranger wash a wand back and forth across my stretched skin. As I strained to watch the child on the screen, my daughter quickly became disillusioned with the baby everyone was talking about. There was no child in the room besides her, not that she had found anyway.

In reaching the halfway point, I cannot help but soak up everything I love about life as we live it right now: a child that sleeps twelve uninterrupted hours at night, only one little person with needs to be met, a rhythm that carries us through weeks at a time without too much trouble. Yet even as I love the normal that has been established in life with our daughter, I cannot help but wonder about life with a second child. Even as this life only exists within me, he or she colors our plans for the future. Though I don't yet think about feeding and naps, I am constantly interrupted with kicks and movement that break my concentration and remind me of the impending upheaval waiting just a few months away.

Today, I rest in the peace and quiet that exists for now. Tonight, I fall asleep with the gentle nudges from an internal foot connected to a powerful frame that weighs less than a pound. It is no less miraculous the second time. And even as I remember the chaos that comes with a newborn--a body that comes from my own, created within me as I worked and slept and lived for the better part of a year--I cannot help but be thankful for the chance to experience it again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reminder of Frailty

My daughter is proving to be a bit of a dare devil, shirking the warnings of many a well-meaning adult in order to determine danger for herself.

Age is relative. To the teenagers I coach I am old: I have a baby, a house, a couple degrees, and gray hair that centers around the part in my hair. I'm not keenly aware of what is "on point", don't use snapchat enough, and prefer to go to bed early. To many of the women at church I study with on a weekly basis, I am young. I have a baby and no children in school--let alone college. I attempt to be stylish, know how to use Siri on my iphone, and participate in workouts with the high school track team. 

At times I am not sure where I fit, but I think it is somewhere in the middle. I still feel like I have the options of youth, but I'm thankful much of the time that I don't have the endless transitions that loomed in my teens and twenties. For now, in the deceiving reality I live in, life is stable.

Then, I am reminded that my seeming stability is an illusion.

A friend learned last week that her heart is failing. She is my age, almost exactly. She has a newborn baby, a preschooler, an elementary student, and a child that passed away a few years back. She has a home, weekly activities, and plans lessons and crafts for our mom's group. She is a bright light in our weekly studies, a servant in seemingly every circle she exists within, and too young to have a heart that is failing--much too young.

In these moments, when a few tears over a brief conversation is all our babies will allow, I feel so powerless. Neither the energy of youth or the wisdom of age can do anything concrete in this situation, where the evidence of failure is the subtle shortness of breath and silent panic in the quiet of the night that everything is unraveling. And so we pray: for a miracle, for peace, for comfort, for life beyond the frailty of her broken body. 

In these moments, we are reminded--young and old, healthy and weak--life is fleeting. We are reminded to cling to the truths that are most important, those that remain beyond the conflicts and idols of youth, those that exceed the temptations of complacency and false stability as we age.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nap Time Diversion, or the Perfect Fall Pie

Taken this summer, at a party celebrating 40 years of marriage between Curtis's parents.

Today during nap time, I cooked a pie. I had a pile of pears, a couple of hours, and the urge to wrestle a pie crust. The recipe I found called for garam masala, a spice I have cooked with a few times before, and I had a small jar sitting among my well-used spices waiting for such an occasion. And a lovely occasion it was, where the chopping of pears didn't wake the little one, where the pie crust rolled and folded as it was ordered, where the spices simmered in the hot oven and the crust came out with a perfect golden luster.

My daughter awoke as I assembled the lattice cover (a first for me, but with the luck I was having in construction, I figured it was a good day to try my hand at it), and I fed her uncooked pie crust chunks as she circled the kitchen, flipping through cookbooks and climbing on and off of the dining room chairs.

While the pie cooked under the watchful eye of a toddler, I attacked the mess that was my kitchen: breakfast, lunch, and pie construction. I filled the dishwasher (while she removed spatulas to lick and make sure they had been stripped of all goodness), and dried the knives, and wiped the counters.

And with all the evidence of the nap time activity gone (save the pie, to be consumed tomorrow), we resumed our normal activities: change a diaper, put on coats and shoes, drive to practice, run a while with the jogger, dinner, bath, bed. In the midst of scheduled activities were many somewhat predictable activities as well: the fit that was thrown when I wouldn't let her have the car keys, the escapist move she pulled when she wriggled her arms out from her car seat straps, the endless dogs and airplanes that were identified as we ran the streets in the sunshine, and several kisses at bath time.

The days with just me and my daughter blend together after a while. Routine and structure seem to be necessities for my sanity, but occasionally the sprinkle of garam masala is the perfect Wednesday addition--something out of the ordinary that's been sitting on the shelf for a while, not the do-it-yourself project or bill paying task I originally had on my mind to accomplish. It was nothing ground breaking, but it didn't need to be. It was my little bit of autonomy at a time when my little appendage is with me everywhere I go.