Half Birthday for my Jujube

Dear Julien,

familyYou  turned six months old while on a vacation with Mama and Daddy in Austin, TX.   Your smile, coincidentally, is just about as big as Texas.

After four kids, my incessant blathering about the impossibility of the passage of time has about worn itself out.     But still it often feels like a shooting star I am trying desperately to capture.    And like the stars, your light is such that it continues on through the seemingly blank stretches of time and space – interminable and vast.

You are snuggled into my Ergo carrier throughout most of your days and this is your place of rest and solace.  It is also the place in which you inquisitively watch me apply makeup, blowdry my hair, scramble the eggs, make the beds, mop the floors, bake the cookies, referee your siblings, and shop for groceries.   photo-1Here you sleep now, shirtless with buttercream skin, as I type.  I often catch you staring up at me silently, with an ample grin; waiting like an open-beaked baby bird in a nest.   And I laugh and bend my neck to kiss your lips.

On our trip in Austin, you went everywhere with us and never caused one moment of worry or trouble.  Daddy and I remarked how we were so lucky to be soaking you up all to ourselves.  It was heaven.

photo 1You have been my easiest baby to get to nap – just pop you in the Ergo and you are out in a few minutes.   I can transfer you to bed without you waking.   I can lay in bed, nurse you for a few minutes, and you drift into dreams like a lullaby.   This makes up for the first four and half months of your life where you screamed sadly through a majority of car rides.   Now you’ve transitioned to watching your siblings as they play and fight and sing in the backseat, often squealing happily or content to discover baby toys (or the occasional random object such as a box of Nerds or a lotion bottle).

You are working on growing hair and have deep earth-toned eyes like your brother.

photo 3You are sitting up mostly unsupported and watch every single bit of food we put into our mouths.  You’ve had an eensy teesy dab of gelato on an occasion or two because you were grunting for it.   You leaned into the spoon, pursed your lips around it, and savored the cool treat.     While I plan on holding out on introducing foods for as long as I can, I think you are going to keep pushing the envelope.   And I am in love with your gentle will.

photo 2You are my ocean breeze, Julien.  Everything about you feels just like that.  Like the sea is giving birth to her very breath; marking old wounds not just with an “x” on the treasure map but with an “xoxo”.  You are the intergalactic hug and kiss, the embrace into the sturdiest of shoulders and the kiss that sinks with the salt into your skin.

I cannot foresee the future so I live in the present;  and here and now you make mothering seem easy. You remind me that we are all worthy of ease.

10527479_10152513797862604_5364025833913733623_nLet me remind you that there is no shortage of love in this family for you and there never will be.

I am  yours, ya know.








Snippets: It’s June

Confessing that I enjoy Phoenix summers has brought on just as much controversy as my decision to birth my babies at home, or become a vegetarian,  or not adhere to a religious dogma.   I mean, it’s venemous territory to tread, being someone who loves the desert in all of her forms and temperatures and landscapes.  Because I’d like to think it mirrors the practice of loving people in much the same way.  If we live with intention with people, and within a Place, then we welcome their seasons.

I am going on the third-ish year of not being dreadful about summertime in the desert.   Bemoaning something that is so predictable seems like a huge waste of energy.    It’s not like we have snowstorms or torrential rain or “actual weather” that we need to prepare for.   We don’t even need an extra wardrobe for it. It’s just HOT.   Tomorrow will be hot and the day after and the day after and it will be that way – save for a few blessed weeks of monsoon season – through October.

I don’t even understand folks who check the temperature, or take a photo of their car’s thermometer gauge,  and then post about it on Facebook.  WHY?  What good does it do to whine about something we have no control over?

cropped-desert-by-jason.jpgIn fact, I actually enjoy the summers here now.  I revel in the late evening swimming and bike rides.  I embrace the extended daylight hours and the weekend trips up north to cooler weather.  The lazy schedule and sleeping in does my heart good.    Of course, I do my best to avoid any trips out of the house in the blazing heat of day, so late night grocery shopping becomes an anticipated treat.

And it wasn’t too difficult to do, to make the lickety-split decision to make “sunshine out of sun”.   It feels like I stumbled upon some not-so-hidden secret; the letting go and the surrender. But don’t forget about the Welcome.

photo 2Welcome, summer.  Welcome burn and fire and heat and flames and sizzle.   Welcome breathtaking tangerine sunsets and aphids on the milkweed and the return of the hawk wasps and living in swimsuits and flip-flops.   Welcome parched earth, waiting with mouth wide open for drops of rain.  Welcome days of lounging under the Cottonwood’s shade and watching my children wade in the river.   Welcome six people crowded into one King-sized bed to drift off to sleep.  Welcome popsicles and shaved ice and a kitchen table scattered with art supplies and lit by the glow of a single candle.

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I still haven’t finished Julien’s birth story or JP’s death story.  I don’t believe it’s coincidence. Both seem tied together in a way I can’t quite explain, except that writing both is an admission of the end of something.  The last of my births, the last of the days we had with our family dog.

JP witnessed – literally – the birth of my four children.   He rested his chin on the edge of the birth tubs and layed in the birth space, his eyebrows moving as he watched and listened.

We held each newborn up to his nose and let him welcome them.  He would sniff and give them the most gentle of licks and his ears would perk up if they cried.

My goal is to finish their stories when Julien turns six months old; impossibly just a few weeks away.

photo 4In the meantime, I bathe with Julien in the tub he was born into.  I float him between my legs and we giggle as I pretend I’m whooshing him up from the water to my chest again, just like I did that evening in December.    He is my last baby.  This feels certain and right and harrowing and heart-breaking.   Holding all of this – holding him – feels like the very physical incarnation of Paradox itself.  To catalog “the last newborn giggle ever/the last gummy smile ever/the last tiny head in our bed ever” is odd and probably not very spiritually self-serving.  But it gets me through.  It buoys me in the momentary flecks of grief.


June and July, my birthing season.   A month or so ago, I started noticing the light again.  The clarity and depth of it and the way it always finds a way to stream through a crack in our curtains [because light cannot be contained].  This is the light that welcomed three of my babies and it is like the flame of the holiest candle.   It will always bring me to my knees.

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Three birthdays clumped together within three weeks of each other – my heart can barely handle it.   But I’ve come to enjoy celebrating birthdays in the way I devour Oreos:  all at once.  Just enjoy every last one of them and get it over with.

A five month old and a four year old and a first grader and a fourth grader.  Who am I, this woman who is called Mama but still feels like the teenager wearing knee socks and a plaid uniform skirt and curling my hair each morning? How is it that time has marched on every so stealthily so that I have ended up in this chair, at 11:30 pm, writing about my four children but still recalling the way he hugged me when I showed up in Arizona that night at age 19 and never left?

I never understood Math until I became a mother.    And I’ve realized the key to surviving the piercing arrow of Mom-Math lives in the breaths and laughs and moments between the calculation and the answer.   And that 2+2 doesn’t really equal four.  It equals infinity; four hearts beating as one infinite drum circle within me.

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