25 April 2011

All song, all singing

Happy Easter! It's been raining for what seems like forever, but spring is in the air. I'm hoping that these April showers really do bring May flowers. We had a lovely Easter yesterday. Gabriel joined in the egg hunt like he's being doing it all his life, spotting all of the colorful eggs, toddling over to them, cracking them open, and holding up his treasures with a big "ooooh!!!!" for us all to marvel at.

I handed in my beast of a dissertation draft a week ago Friday, and have now had two work-free weekends, which felt glorious. The first time in ages I read the Sunday paper from start to finish, got some baking done, and took afternoon naps. There's still a long haul of editing and chopping and reworking to be done (I'm creating an additional chapter out of a way-too-long chapter, and all of them are already too long), but the defense is that much closer. And now comes the move: sorting and packing and selling and migrating from Bloomington to Belgium!

The Sunday paper printed a lovely selection of spring poems, of which I really adored Li-Young Lee's "The Word from His Song." Sometimes I find his poems a little too zen-ohm-goggly, but I liked the sing-shoutingness of this, and "It's all song, all singing, the body's seat / and number, the mind's pleats, time's hem."

The Word from His Song
by Li-Young Lee

The sparrow on my rooftop shouts,
"All roads be blessed." His voice a ring
for the finger of the beloved.

And he wouldn't work harder at his song
if all the world prized it,
nor temper what sounds like ardor
if a public thought him wrong.

He says singing redeems the body's loneliness.
All praise is homage to an older praising,
a drastic sum and ruling mean,
earth's urging the grapes to a clearer fate,
sun's pressing them to a more potent praise.

Flying fixes the heart to the sky's wheel, he says.
Salt cures the script.
Light is a fractal script.
Imagination is branched, flowering,
and each fans the buds himself.

He says every atom burns.
Hunger rends the kingdom by mending,
marrying voices and wings.

Singing builds a throne
for hearing, sets up a swing
between our one night and our day.

It's all song, all singing, the body's seat
and number, the mind's pleats, time's hem.

The voice is a sighted brink.
Its mission is to sort the world.
The tongue is a mortal flower.
The dew at last. The guests arrive.
The child learns his name,
a virgin bell. And even that
iron note is God awake in two worlds.

God seeks a destiny in all things fired
in the kiln of the sun or the mind.

That's the word from his song.

06 April 2011

A motherhood mantra

(***I know I'm not supposed to be blogging right now, as I am in the throes of crazy dissertation-writing, but I've been mulling over this one and had to write it out and so I'll post it anyway.)

Pregnancy is a big grab-bag. There are a million and one pregnancy "symptoms" (i.e., things that make your life uncomfortable and/or awkward and/or a miserable pit of misery), and before you are pregnant, they all sound incredibly awful or especially annoying or downright scary. And then you get pregnant, and the symptoms you were sure you'd have fail to appear, and the symptoms you never heard of show up and make you think you're a weirdo, and the symptoms you never thought to worry about end up being the worst. And you deal with them, and life goes on.

To wit:

Nausea--I was super worried about morning sickness, but only had fleeting upset stomach, which usually went away with a bit of a lay-down and some crackers, and even that only lasted a few weeks. But the gas and intestinal distress had me doubled in pain for weeks.

Oh, and the heartburn at the end? I never once worried about it beforehand but it was the WORST. To the point where I asked for a Zantac when I was in labor because I was worried about the heartburn pain. Hah! I was about to give birth without pain meds but I wanted a ZANTAC! In retrospect, this is very funny but at the time I was really serious about it (they gave it to me but I immediately threw it up...yeah, labor makes you throw up, which is something I also did not know beforehand but am glad I did not know).

I was sure I'd get swollen ankles. Nope. I got swollen armpits (hormones, glands, yadda yadda). I got carpal tunnel syndrome and achy fingers.

I was worried about stretch marks and post-partum hair loss, but instead I got skin tags (which went away) and weird blotchy face spots (which didn't).

I was scared about episiotimies/tearing. It happened, but I barely had any pain and healed super quick. But the hemorrhoids? Worse than childbirth, and I'm not exaggerating.

SO. All of this is to say that maybe? It's not worth worrying. You'll get what you get, and you'll deal with it when you do.

Which I am saying to MYSELF (this is all an exercise in self-therapy), because having a kid is JUST like that.

You'll get what you get, and you'll deal with it when you do.

I was worried about the not-sleeping, and thought I'd never survive. The newborn stage tricked me into thinking the baby was a good sleeper (little babies sleep all the time anyway), but time has proved me wrong. My kid doesn't know how to fall asleep on his own, and still wakes up several times during the night, and man I am SO tired. But we are surviving.

I was worried about having a clingy, crying baby, and guess what? He's barely exhibited separation anxiety once in his thirteen months. He loves hanging with other people, and from day one has practically skipped to the door of his daycare.

I was convinced we'd have a voracious eater, because we are nothing if not good eaters, and besides his cousins all were champs at eating. But for heaven's sake we have a picky eater. I suspect this is because he is still nursing, and I'm trying to roll with it, offering him lots of various foods. He does eat, just doesn't eat a lot, and is very choosy about the things he'll actually chow down on.

I was worried about that whole "nipple confusion" thing so we made sure not to offer him pacifiers or bottles for the first couple months. But when we did offer them he refused and to this day has never used a pacifier or a bottle for self-soothing. Which might be related to the no sleeping thing. It didn't occur to me to worry that he WOULDN'T take the pacifier but now I so wish he did.

I was so nervous about traveling with a baby/toddler, knowing that we'd have to do it so often. You hear horror stories, and sure--there've been blowouts and crying and neverending flights--but you know what? The kid is a champion traveler, so much so that I'm actually going to be flying alone on a transatlantic flight with him. (I must admit, I am a little nervous about that one...)

I could go on. There are a million examples.

The things you think are going to be impossible and/or horrible turn out to be fine, or at least bearable--you just deal. The things you spent so much energy worrying about turn out to be non-issues. And the things that never even crossed your mind turn out to be the things that try your soul when they happen.

I suspect this will be true for the next pregnancy--all the things I worry about now, based on the last one, will turn out to be moot and there will be new and improved and weirder symptoms! I suspect this will continue to be true for the boy as he grows and we face new challenges I never imagined and skip over issues I worried about needlessly. And even when the things I worry about do come true, the ways of facing them are not what I imagined they'd be when I worried.

So. It's NOT WORTH worrying. (I tell this to myself, and to the other beloved worryworts in my life.) You'll get what you get and you'll deal with it when you do.