26 June 2013

Dear Rowan: I am always here and there.

Tonight you asked for daddy to take you to bed. That means I won't be seeing you guys again until I silent myself into bed with you. I'll scoot you to the middle to make space for me. And even though I'll be way too tired, I'll stretch the headlamp over my head and read one of the books on the floor next to the bed. Right now I think I know which book that will be. But by the later of the eve, I might just want to learn about random backyard plants that we can eat. 

You are growing up so fast, I've lost a year of firsts. You've gained a year of firsts, to which no time is attached. Your mom, the writer, has not written any of it down. Part of me doesn't know how it happened. But that's like me you'll come to see. Gold intentions manufacturing dust. And summer flower garlands eventually hung. Felt birds to grace the feeder branch, yet unhung. Half finished fish.

But now I'm just cutting myself short. We do so much together. Most of the time, we just be. I watch you color and paint. You tell me what you're drawing. The friends. The waterfalls and trains, mountains and airplanes. The octopuses with 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 7, 8 arms, and the odd seahorse. I used to do all the drawing. (You have taught me everything I know about the mighty steam engine.) Now, though, I mostly sit.

There are times I want to bottle the moment. To be able to open it whenever I want to hear it sing. One morning down by the river, you were throwing rocks into the water like you always do. I leaned on a rock with my feet in the water, where you wanted to throw your finds. I pointed to where to throw them--away from me. You told me to move out of the way, please. I found an even better boulder and reclined, while you tossed rocks and wowed your excellent splashes.

In the sun, I could feel the right side of me burning, and I said that we would have to move to the shade and eat strawberries soon. As I write this, I smile. I understand why you dropped all the rocks in your hands and ran to the backpack. But at the time, I was mentally preparing you for a transition, which I presumed you would fight. Strawberries. But red red strawberries and green green grapes. What other magic could we possibly need?

We sat in the shade of a cliff, the one right below our house. The two stone chairs Daddy placed there a few weeks back still stood there. I took one and offered you the other. We sat and watched the river, slurped fruit and listened to the birds. You offered me strawberries, and held my leg or my arm or my hand the entire time. We were in the flow, so close, so quiet, so connected. To each other, to everything. We do not need a time machine. 

03 July 2012

our little talker.

{santa barbara :: montaña del oro}

Rowan, you're a runner and a good listener. You're helping to make mama a better listener too. Your first word was actually a sentence 'ooh dis' (meaning what's this?) around 15 months. Your first signs were more and milk, but it's so hard to remember when we knew you were making your version of these signs. 9 or 10 months? You still make the milk sign somewhat frantically like you did when you were a baby. Now you are 17 months old, and you're 'ooh dis?' sounds a lot more like 'what's this?'.

Signs you produce in the approximate order appearance...
  • more
  • milk
  • eat
  • up
  • car
  • bird
  • shoes
  • ball
  • where (made up sign)
  • dog (although usually you just bark)
  • baby
  • dance (made up dance moves; i love your dance moves)
  • vacuum
  • truck 
  • book
  • where the wild things are wild rumpus
  • monkey
  • flower
  • train
  • moon (made up sign, pointing up)
  • light
  • elephant (made up sign using an arm as the trunk lifting upward, because that's how mama always made the elephant sound, before she looked up the real sign)
  • banana
  • bridge
  • please
  • butterfly
Words you say or other sounds to signify objects/actions...
  • what's this? 
  • no (shaking your head while doing something you're not supposed to do, like throw a hard object or hit the plants)
  • arf arf arf (dog)
  • vrroom vrroom (for car, vacuum, truck, train)
  • bye (for bye and good night)
  • hot (you also say this for bright sunshine, for ground that hurts your bare feet, and for cold.
  • baba (dada in turkish)
  • choos (shoes)
  • hi (the sweetest hello)
  • ah ee ah ee (while putting your hands in your armpits to mean monkey)
  • meow (cat)
  • mooo (cow)
  • light (sounded the same as hot for a while)
  • ağaç (tree in turkish. You started saying this on our trip to yosemite while we were walking up to the top of Nevada Falls. You, heavy boy, were on my back in the Ergo and started lifting up my arms; each time you did I'd stretch them out, lift them up and say fly, while you'd giggle.) 
  • kiss (actually just the super cute muah sound you do sometimes when you kiss us or your dolls)
  • mama (very occasionally)
  • raaawr (for tiger, lion)
  • gook (for book)
  • kuck (for truck)
  • off
  • home
  • bus
  • pweese
  • on
  • bop (combo of ball in turklish: ball + top)
  • down
  • wat (for water)
And, since I started writing this a while back and new words are coming to you every day, this is not an exhaustive list. Yesterday we were eating strawberries and I looked up a video sign for strawberry. The way you looked up to me and smiled, each time I restarted that 30-second clip. Which I of course had to play over and over again, because you loved it so much and because you asked me so nicely.

Even though I sometimes felt discouraged about teaching you signs--because maybe we started really early and it seemed like a long time for them to really take hold--I am so thankful for the places signs have taken us. I love that you can share your memories and thoughts with us by doing the butterfly sign or the airplane sign. Maybe it's not a complete conversation, but I then know that you are thinking about the airplane we saw earlier, or that you want me to read the book with the butterflies in it. Sometimes you're just checking in to make sure that the airplane sign still has the same name: airplane, uçak. 

And while, I've never read any research to this point, I think the signs have helped you understand that one object can have different names. When I say, Rowan, do you see the trees?, you do the sign for tree and say ağaç. We are clearly communicating. This is so much fun.

I love you, little boy.

your mama 

21 June 2012

life. and mama's milestones.

{bits of montaña de oro, car camping, after extending s's passport so we can go to turkey (and india for my work) in august}

oh what can i say. and where do i start? today i'm weary of capital letters, and as i write it i realize i spent my formative years in such a state--its rightly quiet flurry. damned if i could now order my smudges of memory on a timeline.

blogging was going to provide a sanitized order of my life's moments and loves; maybe it would even jog my memory--ah to let the sweet spill ensue. but that only works if i come here once in a while. i've accumulated part-written beginnings, a couple of quotes, heaps of photos. but honestly after i'm finished with work, the day's commute, floor time and books and bath and bed for rowan, the last thing i want to do is flip open the laptop lid.

but i admit that when i am able to summon my best shots--however rare--the night shifts into a self-defeating, facebook-gawking session. you know the kind where you like posts almost indiscriminately, yet you're sincere as sincere can be. but no matter how sincere, liking everything out there is draining, and it leaves me feeling somehow not enough.

now how, i ask myself on nights like these, did i let myself fall into that sultry self-pity trap? so seductive in the same way that studying philosophy is seductive. to observe and feign understanding from the comfort and dis-ease of incomplete immersion. (when talking philosophy, it only seems apropos keep your sentences rather latinate.)

OK. So I've lost momentum in the blogging part of my life, which means I'm not recording lots of milestones. Baby milestones are funny, because when they happen you think there's no way you will ever forget this. And time and time again, it slips just beyond your reach. And it's gone. I ask my friends with older babies (kids!) when such and such happened or what they did in such and such situation. And the answers are without fail fuzzy. Memory is a fickle lover.

While I'd love to write Rowan the story of my life and the life of his family before me, it's a step I'm still afraid to take. Not to mention a huge undertaking for someone who already feels drown in computerland. So let's just stick to the milestones and a list of firsts.

I bought a sewing machine. I sewed the curtain of Rowan's play kitchen, which Serkan made from mostly found and salvaged materials. I sewed my first pencil roll as a gift, and I sadly did not take a picture.

I started a journey of rather expensive vegan baking. And milling my own flour for said baking, because if I'm going to do it vegan, I might as well do it gluten-free too. And if I can get the whole grains for cheaper and keep more of the nutrition in them, I might as well go for the gold. I realize that there is a lot of trial and error in this journey, and it's sad when a really expensive cake flunks.

I've been teaching myself how to knit. Last night I learned the long-tail cast on and how to purl. I also started knitting English style (rather than Continental), so now I'm holding the yarn in my right hand. It feels so much better. For some reason holding the yarn in my left hand felt more natural at first. The needles I'm working with right now are big and bamboo; the yarn is a beautiful wool I picked up in Punta Arenas, Chile, back when I was pregnant and planning to crochet a baby blanket. Both together are lovely to touch and hear, much better than clicking away on a keyboard.

At work, I taught myself how to write regular expressions among other basic database and terminal things. It might not be my passion, but I've always liked to learn new things.

I've lost some blogging momentum, sure, and I still haven't gotten back into running regularly (on average 3-5x a month?). Both of these things are major bummers to me. But I'm taking baby steps to building momentum in other parts of my life. Like I started doing yoga again. Once a week, but that's better than nonce. And while we don't attempt it in the classes I've been taking, I can still stand on my head and it still feels as good as ever.

I won't even get into how I've grown into myself as a mother, as much as I doubt it sometimes. That's for a different day. Rowan's babbly milestones coming soon, really. :)

Happy solstice, dear friends.

05 May 2012

role modeling.

Tonight toward the end of putting Rowan to bed, as thought sought after thought, I worried: Everything I can do for this little boy has to do with modeling. Somehow the better human being I am, the better being he'll become. Model good eating and outdoor habits, calm, attention. Oh no, but today I didn't model anything crafty. I didn't write in my journal (which I have never ever managed to consistently do anyway).

At this point I stopped myself and tried to make a U-turn. OK, but what about all the good things you did today? When you got home, you sat on the kitchen floor with Rowan on your lap while he ate his bowl full of figs. You read stories and crawled around like a panda. You hugged and kissed and tickled and laughed. Played the toasting game at dinner. Had a mini dance party in the living room. You gave him a bath and sang songs. Marveled at how much he understands (and how much you understand the way he communicates his understanding). You just spent the last hour settling him down for sleep. And right now he is so cozy asleep in your arms.

It was a really good night.

When I write it out like that, of course I think I'm crazy to feel like less than enough. Or lacking in the good role model department.

At the end of the day, I want to model love. Self-love is part (the biggest part?) of that. There's enough poor self-esteem in the world; I'd rather not pass that down. I want to model the part of me, who remembers all the best parts of the night. Like Rowan pushing my back down so that my nose goes toward my toes while I'm sitting cross-legged on the floor (cuz apparently I'm always sitting on the floor these days), so he can drum my back, walk around to the front of me as I sit up, and giggle while he runs back to my back to push me back down and darumdadumdrum. 

If I can cultivate his self-love: compassion, a love of learning, questions, and inner discovery will follow. It really is about planting the right seeds and caring for them. Starting with the compassion I sow for myself.

Someone must have done this for me when I was a wee one. Being a mom has changed the way I view my own childhood. I watch in what subtle ways Rowan's personality unfolds. His flare for drama and laughter, hot temper quick to cool, a bit of a dark streak. Dare I say an undercurrent of joy? I see his mama and where she came from--maybe for the first time. I believe that, no matter how things turned out, some people loved me very much (and that they still do). Sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. Stating so gives it life, makes it something to feel thankful for, rather than doubt.

For Rowan to know that he is loved. Always. What more could any of us want for our children?

Well, hopefully his papa's side will take away some of the darkness, so Rowan can have a simpler light.

27 April 2012

hello, toddlerhood.

Dear Rowan,

Welcome to toddlerhood. I bet nobody ever actually says that to a toddler. That welcome is saved for said tot's parents.

For a year people have been saying, it will get better, it will be so much more fun. And I usually thought, but it's not so bad now. However, what they say is true. This is a really fun age. The blooms of communication are so tangible between us, it's like I can reach up and pluck a flower for you to smell. We understand each other, and that, dearheart, is an superb feeling.

And it's such a special exchange, because--for now--we ((you and me) + (papa, you, and me)) are truly in our own world. We know what your barking sounds like and that you bark whenever you see any animal. We know that you do this because we often look at dogs in the picture books and ask: Rowan, what does a dog say? Arf Arf.

Some things are more obvious, like when you bring your shoes to the door and try to put them on. Obviously you want to go outside. Arms up is up. Nmmm numm nmmm + the more sign closer to your mouth means eat.

Then there are the more nuanced wishes, which an onlooker may not decipher. Like knowing the difference between your milk sign and bye-bye wave. And that bye-bye means Good night, or I'm ready for bed.  That grunting to get my attention while twisting your wrists above your head with pointer and thumb together in what looks to be the beginning of the sweetest little pirouette means, Mama, please sing. And that only mama knows the story behind this made-up sign of yours.

Of course I've felt blunted by those moments of doubt, times where I set to fretting whether you'll ever sleep several hours in a row at night, or if you'll ever lay stand still for a diaper change. But your sleeping has improved organically, without us having to do anything drastic. Even when you kick and cry during a diaper change, you know how to help me--and you do. When I ask for hugs, you give me hugs. When we go to kiss daddy good night, you lean in for a kiss.

I love you, my little angel, who sometimes likes to scream.

12 April 2012

shades of green.

"A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
that's how I hold your voice."
- Rumi

Friends, I wish you are well. 

02 April 2012

the way we grow.

{almirante nieto, torres del paine}
It's so fascinating to watch a little one grow. It is relearning wonder as the new person you have become. Remembering to play. To trust. To encourage: yourself and each other. Some days it's a 'pull your hair out' good time. But love. Love is the easy part. When you hear that laugh, the baby babble, first words and sentences ooo what's this?, witness the personality unfurl, the one that's going to someday tell you jokes that will make you guffaw. Guffaw? Guffaw. Well, none of this is what I meant to write.

Let's try this again. 

Rowan went to meet his new pediatrician last week. It made me appreciate how caring and good with people his previous pediatrician was. But all is well. After the appointment, we had to go to a different floor with some paperwork to get his vaccines.

We used to stay in the same examination room and the same nurse who took his measurements before the doctor exam also administered the shots. He received a few of his vaccines with nary a tear. The nurse would make warm eye contact with Rowan, he'd bat his eyelashes and sit in my lap, and I'd be upbeat and smiling while I held his hands away from the needle. All done. Cute gender-specific bandaids. Pants back on.

This time, though, the needles seemed much bigger.

The mild-mannered shot technician was nice and apologetic. A little too apologetic. She started saying Sorry before she even gave him the shot, which melted my cool and drowned out my Yays. Poor little guy needed three of these, and he started screaming with the first prick. I guess there's just something colder about the care we've transitioned into. Not that it's poor quality. I just miss the smaller, happier needles.

It's incredible how much babies use their caregivers as a mirror for their own states of well-being. When Rowan stumbles, the first thing he does--if he doesn't immediately get back up--is look at me to gauge my reaction. I've been pretty good at keeping my cool. But there are times when the bonk sounds loud and I start. And of course Rowan grunts and gets back up like nada. Still other times, I've seen him break down because of somebody else's animated are you ok? response.

It makes me think a lot about modelling the right things for him, and what exactly I want that to be.
Calm is the first thing that comes to mind. Space inside and expanse outside.  Indoors, that means unclutter, small compartments for his toys, flat shelving for his books so he chooses them by looking at their fronts rather than their spines. Outside, that means forests, mountains, meadows, rivers, oceans. It means access to the outdoors is close at hand. We're working on this. Breathing deep.

How are you?


Related Posts with Thumbnails