“Remember who are you”…
It’s not that I have a problem remembering who I am. It’s that it’s hard knowing how to wrangle the vast and various Who’s that I am. All of them.
Within each of our Who’s is multiple layers: Mama (crazy mama, patient mama, walking the journey mama, survival mama, broken open mama, new mama, healing mama, pining mama), sister (to a sister, to a brother, to other soul-sisters), wife (see: Mama layers), doula (holding the space doula, being a bubble of peace doula, bouncer doula, homebirth doula, hospital doula, walking a fine line doula, don’t say a word doula, whisper in her ear doula).
You get the point.
We know who we are. And who cares if we remember. Because we shape shift constantly and infinitely.
Remembering seems futile, stagnant, static.
REVEL in the who’s that you are.
Be tender with your who’s.
Lay them down in the cool blades of grass.
Sit them under the milky white stars.
Pour them a glass of wine and clink together your goblets.
Laugh them silly and cry them rivers.
Throw your You’s a bone, for goodness sake.
March in the parade of You’s.
I love You’s.
He turned One.
I nested for weeks before, in some kind of bizarre and comforting ritual. Just as I did weeks (months) before he landed in my arms. Mopping the floors and wiping down counters each night. Folding laundry and decluttering. The morning of his Birth Day, we all gathered atop of bed and sang Happy BIrthday. He clapped and laughed. Then, at his Birth Day party, he gobbled up the red velvet cupcake I’d made even though he still doesn’t really eat solid foods. A year ago that night, when he was 12 hours old, some of the same people gathered with us to welcome him. I laugh at how “just given birth” I look in the photos: big belly, ugly house dress on, chubby chin and cheeks. And yet, I am high as a kite from his birth.
The night of his Birth Day, our entire family slept in our room. It was a fitting tribute to him, as I’m almost positive that’s how we slept his first night on earth. The breath of each of my children audible on the night’s still air. I stared at the spot in the corner in which you were born. Over there, I floated you in the birth tub and memorized your face in one quick gasp. Curly-q boy, “Stay little, my son, stay little”.
He started taking steps a few days later.
She turned Four.
I had tears in my eyes for days prior. My voice was shaky and my spirit mopey; trying to push the hands of time backwards. “There is no way our baby girl was born four years ago, Jason. She just arrived. Remember?” Yes, I remember, holding her warm body on the birth stool in our bedroom. We were both splattered in our birth blood and all I did was stroke her over and over and over and cry through tears: “I waited so long for you…We did it, baby!”. Her birth tore me wide open – in every way imaginable – and to be so raw and exposed felt otherworldly.
Grams was here for her Birth Day and we all huddled at the table and ate more cupcakes I’d made. She blew them out and proclaimed she was Four!
My sage, with eyes that envelop my soul. You ask for so little. You ushered your brother in with kindness; I know you were instrumental in his coming. Glorious girl of the sun, my heart will leap from your hands if you don’t hang on tight enough. Please will you say yes to many, many adventures with Mama?
She is turning Six.
In some ways, Time has been gracious in relation to her Birth Days. She crowned me a mama and what a journey that has been. She slays me, this one. Her emotions are Grand Canyon-sized and my lesson is in not attempting to contain them. But in allowing the dams to break. She likes to be washed over, it seems. This is her way. In the moments I can sway in time to her currents and ride her waves as they crest, then we are magical mermaids; goddesses of the ocean. She straddles Earth and Sea, as her name attests to. She is impeccably in tune with her body, articulating sensations and feelings in precise ways that most adults struggle describing. “Mama, when I grow up I am going to be an artist and a genius”.
She was cut out of me almost six years ago. I wailed for her in the OR “Where is my baby?!?! I want my baby!?!?”. Because no mama should feel empty arms after birthing their babies – and themselves – into being. Our first gaze was deep and long and chest-heaving. In the Recovery room – where my midwife had to fight to allow her to be with me – I nursed her for the first time in between the haze of sleep medications that I didn’t know were added to my spinal. In those moments, I would have walked the ends of the Earth for her, even with a bleeding open wound in my belly. My husband and I became Three and she was our One. Her birth was my Fire Blaze – searing and white-hot and soul-changing and exactly as it needed to be. Within the flames, we danced. Oh hell yes, we danced.
Sometimes, I have so many words oozing from my pores – and so little time – that my teeth actually hurt. I must be chewing on my words.
Somehow, we are sisters-from-another-mister. We are ridiculously silly together on Skype. I get her. She gets me. She is 10 years younger but understands all my pop culture references from my youth. We sing really bad made-up songs out loud and proud. We take video snapshots of ugly faces we make. She waits patiently as my kids have meltdowns on camera and as I wipe poopy bums and dole out ice cream cake for lunch. She doesn’t rag on me for my three week cupcake baking frenzy, which prompted me to ask her “How many cupcakes do you think equal a typical slice of cake?”. (She knows how to answer exactly how I need)
Three. In case you were wondering.
We are separated by an ocean, having not yet met in the flesh. But our blood-mystery lines run deep.
And after weeks, she convinced me to try hooping. So, me and the girls picked up the supplies at the hardware store and made our hoops. I learned a few tricks and garnered some small bruises. And it’s pretty fun. And frustrating. And hilarious. Maybe I’ll keep at it. Or maybe I’ll just bake more cupcakes.
I adore this woman. Mrs. Erin Darcy Sassypants Faery Love.
A woman who mothers as if she were skiing down the smoothest, quietest, most velvety snow-covered mountain. Effortless. Beautifully. With grace and confidence. And a good dose of silly.
She is more than she knows.
We took a lovely four-day trip to Flagstaff in the travel trailer recently. The kids came back with dirt under their finger nails and toe nails and I call that a success.
We hiked down into the Walnut Canyon National Monument where the Sinagua Indians created cliff dwellings over 900 years ago. I was beyond stunned that our girls hiked the entire way without complaint – over 240 steps to descend into the canyon. Lyric slept in the Ergo as we traversed on rock that the ancients called their home. We touched the walls that the Sinagua women plastered carefully and in which smoke from their cooking fires is still burned onto the ceilings of the structures.
Mesmerized by the views from the cliff – red rock gorges overlooking a river and junipers – I stood inside a cliff-dwelling and imagined I was a woman embarking on the journey of birth. What would I have felt as I held my swollen belly and stood on the edge of the world as the sun rose? Would I have walked this path along the rim under the light of the full moon? Would I have greeted my baby into my own hands as the sun set into the limestone mountains and the river rushed below me?
I plucked a sprig of juniper gently and carried it in my pocket, a symbol of protection that the Sinagua people used in ritual, ceremony, and every day life.
Thank you, canyons that hold secrets that need not be told (are there really any secrets anyways?). Thank you, skies that have seen harmony and harvest and devastation. Thank you, people of the cliffs that remind us of the earth’s medicine and healing and for sharing your DNA with us.