7 Months of Motherhood
For a long while after baby, the days and weeks seemed to blur together, with the monotony of pandemic life compounding the haziness of time when you're parenting a newborn. Things have since settled into a rhythm, one that feels, amazingly, like balance. It takes a lot of help and a lot of coffee. It also required letting go of something, and for me, for now, that something is my day job. I needed to clear space, and what needed to go first was the thing that yielded the least value and fulfillment for the amount of time and mental labor it cost.
I'm now 7 months into motherhood and watching my little baby grow and develop at an unfathomable pace, already tripling his birthweight, crawling, and growing teeth (!). Every day with him is a treasure, and I don't want to miss a single thing. He now reaches for me when I go to pick him up, and it fills my heart each time. I'm so happy to be his mom. Still, some days my morning grogginess never goes away, and I can tell from the moment I get up that I probably won't be able to get to making pottery that evening.
It takes a village, truly. Our families have been hugely helpful in that regard. We drop Jazzy off with Kev’s parents on Tuesdays and Thursdays for most of the workday. This allows me to go to the studio twice a week, doubling the amount of time I can work. My mom comes to our place to help on Mondays and Wednesdays when I have acupuncture appointments, and on Fridays my dad comes to hang out. Sometimes my sister joins him and works from my kitchen table. Kev's sister is beyond busy managing two restaurants and opening a new bar but she still makes time to see him when he's with his grandparents, and when she can't, she FaceTimes him nearly every day. They all love him so much and it’s rewarding to watch him interact with each of them. He is a lucky boy to have these people in his life, and Kev and I are super fortunate that they're all nearby and able/willing to help.
This schedule started at the end of June, and I've found in it much-needed and much-appreciated space to focus on M&m. In addition to more trips to the studio, I’ve spent more time with my hands on clay at home too. I usually take a couple of hours in the evening after Jazzy's bedtime to pack up orders, sculpt, and handle administrative tasks at my workstation downstairs. What's resulted is a period of fairly high productivity for my pottery, objectively speaking. Subjectively, there's never as much time as I think there is, and I'm still working on coming to terms with that truth.
Lately I'm actively trying to show up for what I'm doing in the moment, to not worry about what I needed to have done or need to be doing next. When I'm successful, there's a stillness of mind, a peace in it. It's a sustained effort to do this though, something I need to practice again and again.
Already the newborn days feel so distant, and though I remember in my bones how extremely difficult it was, I feel wistful about the quiet and calm in those early, pre-dawn mornings and about how tiny he was in my arms. He feels so big now, but I remind myself daily that he'll never again be as small as he is today. That's how these spindle arms of mine have come to be able to lift all 21 pounds of him straight up into the air.
If this pandemic was over, I'd be so excited to show him more of the world now that he's so curious and observant. I'd love to have him meet new people and start to get a sense of just how huge his extended family is. Sometimes we worry about what being raised during a pandemic will mean for his development, but we're doing our best, and he's a happy boy. I'm incredibly frustrated that resistance to the vaccine in the US (when so many around the world so desperately want access to it) has allowed the Delta variant to take hold, which puts unvaccinated babies and children at risk and continually risks the emergence of an even more dangerous mutation.
Despite that, we're introducing him to new things as much as possible, and the world of flavors has opened to him now that he's started solid foods. He approaches the most mundane of things, a basting brush or a whisk for example, with such interest that I can't help but to find his wonder wondrous. He tries so hard to learn and master new skills, like standing up (he pulled himself up for the first time yesterday) and drinking from a cup (not there yet, lol). The very smallest things that we do without thought are things that he's learning for the first time.
Often I catch myself thinking "I can't wait until..." As in, I can't wait until Christmas and we can start making new holiday traditions, I can't wait to introduce him to play dough (and later, clay of course), I can't wait until he can wear a little backpack while we hike and gosh it'll be so cute, and on and on. These are moments I dream of for our family. But then, after a beat, I wind my thoughts back. I observe him as he is, take in our surroundings, imprint the memories, and think with the voice in my head ringing loud and clear: "this is now."