motherhood

A Heart Rent in Too Many Directions.

Hill turns two in a month. Partly because he is a second child and partly because he has lived over half of his life in the strange conditions of a global pandemic, a little piece of me flags as I prepare for this birthday and think back on all of the firsts and lasts and could-haves that have slipped by unannounced. There were entire months over the past year in which I existed in pure survival mode, barely blustering my way through the day, and when I’d close the door to his bedroom at night, I’d stand there in the dim light of the hallway, wavering on my feet, the silence in our apartment ringing in my ears, a dinosaur in my back pocket, and a vague fatigue clouding my eyes and pressing down on my shoulders. I grieve those days for him. Life for me was more about putting one foot in front of the other, making it to the other side of daylight. Things eased up in the summer, after my recovery, after a week outside of the city, after we finally secured childcare, but — I grieve those days for him. For mini, too, but especially for him, because mini enjoyed two entire and uninterrupted years of our unflagging attention, and micro has only ever had half of ours, and less than that share during those dark days of the pandemic. I was doing my best, I tell myself. He is happy; he is loved. I can see his chubby figure toddling around the Great Lawn, blissfully chasing his sister, on the innumerable string of afternoons we spent there over the summer, and can hear that belly laugh of his that has punctuated so many of our days in the past year. He is easy-going; he is affectionate; he is a blithe little fellow. Still, I think, those months — a blight.

While I’m lingering on the tough, sinewy bits of the last year, another admission materializes: I can’t remember the last time I rocked him to sleep. It’s funny how that game goes: one day, you are walking back and forth in his tiny off-kitchen bedroom, avoiding the creaky floorboard, your arms nearly giving under the weight of his surprisingly-dense body, and the next, you are tidying up the kitchen, craning to hear his cry, and pleasantly surprised when it does not materialize. Only — the absence of that familiar cry that particular night proves a temporary boon. Because now, on the uncommon occasion he climbs into my lap and presses his body against mine, resting his head on my shoulder, I am weepy with nostalgia. I am awash with wonder. I cannot take my eyes off the movements of his tiny fingers, occasionally parroting my own actions in the unexpected, soft pat of my back — three taps of his little palm in a borrowed gesture of reassurance (!) — but usually moving in that funny idle way of a baby, playing with the hem of the blanket, in constant adjustment and curiosity. I find myself new again, as though experiencing motherhood for the first time: the details so tender and fine-tipped.

I don’t want two to come. It is the eve of attitude and the end of infancy. But here we are, and I know there is much to look forward to, having witnessed the blooms of curiosity and personality and awarenesses in my older child. This birthday, then, induces motherhood in its purest form: I am a heart rent in too many directions.

Post-Scripts.

+Time is a thief.

+More on this notion of keeping time as a parent: “Oh.  I know now.  She was how she kept time.  The all-consuming centricity of parenthood, the reframing of all things, the centripetal force of my daughter.  The way I will remember moving to New York through the lens of her eight-month-old self, the cramped and harried naps she took in a pack-and-play in the corner of our hotel room, or in my arms on the unmade bed, back when she was little enough to endure my tremulous voice on stressed phone calls and still sleep soundly through it all.  The way I will think of the steps in our first home in Chicago through the prism of the sharp pain I felt ascending and descending them for the first few times after my c-section, wanting desperately to get to her but unable to move with more speed.  The way my meals, my available times for phone calls, my weekend plans conform to her waking schedule.”

+The elegant and lopsided dance of motherhood.

+An aubade to parenting — written before the birth of my first!

+Difficult parenting moments.

+An auspicious parenting moments, too.

Shopping Break.

+A few of the birthday gifts I’m considering for micro (must get organized – birthday is only a few weeks away!):

THIS COOL ROCKING HORSE (THE DESIGN IS SO FUN)

A PIGGY BANK! — LOVE THIS SILVER ELEPHANT OR THIS CLASSIC PIG

A BRUDER CAR/TRUCK — PROBABLY GOING WITH A CLASSIC DUMP TRUCK BUT THIS LAND ROVER IS FUN

LINCOLN LOGS

KID MADE MODERN KIT AND DINOSAUR CRAYONS

VTECH DRILL + LEARN TOOLBOX

OOLY STICKER BOOK

TRANSFORMER RESCUE BOTS

ANY SAFARI LTD TOOBS — I’M EYEING THIS CAR ONE AND THIS DESERT ONE; HILL LOVES THESE TINY TOYS AND PLAYS WITH THEM DAILY…ALSO GOOD FOR SENSORY TRAYS!

+More great gift ideas for children’s birthdays here and here.

+Great Zoom top – interesting details, but still professional.

+Speaking of interesting but professional, I’ll forever be a DVF fangirl. I have several wrap dresses of hers I bought just after college that I’ll wear until the end eternity. I like that the prints are bold but the dress is timeless in style (and appropriate for any age). You can just as easily wear with pumps as you can with sandals. I especially love this slightly more feminine flounced style.

+Speaking of sandals, these popular under-$100 sandals were just restocked in great colors.

+Seriously cute $20 rattan table lamp.

+Such fun shades just released in such great colors — the green!

+This floaty dress is just a dream.

+The kind of white top you buy on a whim that ends up being a major workhorse in your wardrobe. Perfect with jeans, under joveralls, with a skirt…

+On my spring shopping list.

+These striped acrylic glasses are just begging for a margarita.

+Tees for little boys in great colors. (To pair with great shorts.)

+Just a little reminder that Supergas are a great summer shoe — work with everything from sundresses to shorts.

+Stop what you’re doing and check out this $129 dress, which gives me major Brock or Markarian vibes.

+Marysia swimsuit vibes for less.

+A gorgeous and highly versatile LBD. Appropriate for work and social events.

+This $39 dress for little ones reminds me of SEA! (I just ordered a few of their leggings for little ones in pretty floral prints! Never ordered from this brand before and will report back.)

+Tiny seersucker shorts for your little man.

+I just saw these sneakers on Jenny Walton and…I think I need them.

8 Comments

  1. Happy birthday to Mr. Micro! Thank you for these birthday gift ideas, too … my niece will turn two in July and I’m already SO excited to celebrate her, as I haven’t seen her since she was five months old due to the pandemic! Heartbreak! I empathize with your grief over what we’ve lost, but I know your son feels so loved and he is so lucky to have you as his mom.

    P.S. That linen dress from Faithfull is SO gorgeous! I really love their linen pieces. Also, co-sign on Jenny Walton’s Loewe sneaks — heart eyes!

    xx

  2. “The eve of attitude and the end of infancy…” aaaaaaaaaahhh! So accurate and terrifying. Going to do my best to savor the next 10 months before my youngest is two. I’ve been wondering a lot lately, how much would be different about her if she hadn’t started life in a pandemic? She is much more wary of strangers than my older daughter (who, in fact, has never met a stranger, ha!) and cries when meeting new people. We often excuse her by explaining that she’s a pandemic baby…but maybe she’d be a shy girl regardless of circumstances? The truth is, we’ll never know.

    1. Hi Stephanie – I’ve observed the same thing in my son, actually! He was so overwhelmed at a play group a few weeks back that he burst into tears! I can only imagine that it’s because he hasn’t been around so many children at the same time and it was overwhelming to him. But to your point — maybe that’s just him? Maybe he’s more of an introvert? I do also think many children naturally go through “stranger danger” between the age of 1-2, so maybe that’s it? You’re right — we’ll never know.

      Right there with you!

      xx

  3. This resonates with many of us. My daughter just turned one and I can feel your frustration and nostalgia.

    1. Hi Ilona — Thank you so much for letting me know; glad I am not alone in these conflicting feelings! Motherhood is a wild ride…

      xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *