this place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.
wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move against the earth and sky, the Beloved has bowed there,
the Beloved has bowed there knowing you were coming.
it’s that time, right before the holidays. the autumn has settled in and the winter is drawing near. plans for thanksgiving and christmas are starting to move around in my head but i’m not ready to give in to the hype just yet. ever? for now, i’m enjoying my quiet moments, my cozy home, my fall candle, my space free of decorations. before things get a little more hectic. i am reminding myself that things only need to be as complicated as i allow them. here’s to simplicity.
take a breath. take it in. enjoy and be thankful for what you have.
this week’s contributor is from courtney, of parent tango, a she says/he says blog about marriage, family, and parenting. in this post she writes about the transition of being a mother of one to multiples, and the beauty of it.
I know several women who are pregnant with their second child. All of them have expressed trepidation over how they will ever be able to love the second child as much as they love the first. I can relate. The mother of four and an only child myself, I am here to tell you, you can love all of your children hugely. And you’re doing a good thing by given them another person to share their young life with.
As an only child, I went along obliviously happy as a lark, not realizing how fortunate I was to benefit from the perks of having my parents’ full attention and the opportunities that went along with that. But when I was 10, my parents told me they had had another baby, born prematurely, two years after I was born. He lived only an hour. Besides the heartache of my parents which I couldn’t even wrap my young brain around, I was suddenly so sad for myself. I went from being contentedly solo in the world to feeling the absence of a sibling I had never known to miss.
From then on, whenever my parents were particularly annoying (they grew increasingly annoying as I entered my teen years, naturally), I wished my brother had been there to commiserate with. I felt lonely for the first time ever and wished he had been there to hang around with. I was changed. And it changed what I thought about having my own children someday.
I married a man who had wanted to have four children since he was a young child. I wasn’t so sure about that number, since four people sounded like a crowd to me! As life and my husband’s fear of a vasectomy would have it, we did indeed have four. For the most part, our kids are friends and certainly devote a lot of time to talking about how incredibly annoying their parents are. It must be great for them.
Sometimes I look at them and remember when I was like my pregnant friend, unable to imagine how I could possibly, ever, love another child as much as I loved my first child. So in the wee hours of the morning, before heading to the hospital in labor I whispered to my sleeping two-year-old, “I’m sorry.” Yes, I apologized to my first child for giving birth to my second! It seems so unfair to the second child and it was so untrue. I wasn’t sorry I was having him. And I wasn’t sorry I’d given her a sibling. Of course, I adored him heart and soul immediately. And my first child loved him too when she wasn’t hating him.
I often watch my children interact (with some envy) and see how their relationships with each other morph and change over the years. They all have different relationships and roles with each other. Most of the time, they probably don’t consider each other much of a gift. But they are, providing playmates, confidants, and exercises in all sorts of life skills.
So I take back the apology I made to my daughter 20 years ago. I had more than enough love to go around. And I gave them each other.
this is so beautifully written and i appreciate the honesty in it. i am a bit nervous about introducing another child into the mix bc i am having so much fun with miss ramona and am a little worried how a little squish is going to change our dynamic! however, i know that what these two siblings will do for each other will be immense. thanks, courtney!
looking at these photos from our visit to nashville this past july, i’m struck by the gentleness of this morning moment. i had gotten ramona from the crib she was in and brought her into bed with me for more snuggles. she brought along the magna doodle she had recently discovered and sat there engrossed in it for quite some time. and i sat with her. in the moment. just us and morning light and crisp sheets.
this doesn’t always happen as often as i’d like. as often it needs to happen. i’ve been reading thich nhat hanh’s book, the miracle of mindfulness, and the part i keep coming back to is “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” by this he means: be fully present in the moment you are in. if you rush through a moment in order to move on to the next, then you miss out on a lot of living. thoughts, ideas, intentional breathing, revelations… these can all happen during moments of mundane tasks or seemingly unproductive down times if the tasks and moments are done intentionally, with care.
i still hate doing dishes but i have found a way to do them and do them well without trying to rush it all. being mindful of what my hands are actually doing slows my heart and calms my breath. and then i try to transfer this to moments with my family: instead of always compartmentalizing which moments are mine (alone time during ramona’s nap or after she’s gone to bed or when i can drop her off at daycare) i try to take advantage of all moments –making them all mine by being present in all of them–, savoring the time and being aware of reading her a book to read a book, or helping her put on her clothes to put on her clothes, or playing tea time to play tea time, or eating breakfast to eat breakfast, or snuggling in bed with papa in the morning to snuggle in bed with papa in the morning. one more thing will always be happening after this thing is done. but there’s no need to always be looking ahead at that next moment.
i know, as parents, it is quite hard to savor every moment: there are so many things that have to get done on top of the things we want to do with our little ones. there are timelines and nap times and family events and laundry and play dates and personal needs for self-improvement and quiet time. i am never going to be blissed out every single second of parenthood. but i can try and see the grace and peace in time spent doing what i would rather not be doing. and take extra joy when i get to do exactly what it is i want to do. after all, i have a little girl watching my every move and i’d love for her to grow up as one who is never too old to stop and smell the flowers or observe marching ants and is never too proud or lazy to pick up after herself or take time for what others might need more time for.
if you cannot find joy in peace in these moments of sitting, then the future itself will only flow by as a river flows by, you will not be able to hold it back, you will be incapable of living the future when it has become the present. -thich nhat hanh, the miracle of mindfulness, p. 36.
apropos of our trip to the western slope last weekend, i’m delighted to have a guest post by my dear friend, jill, who lives in glenwood springs, a town you couldn’t miss if you’re traveling to the western slope or aspen. jill is a dear friend of mine from college, my roommate at my first apartment in the city, the lady who showed me all the treasures there are to explore in chicago, and the one who taught me how to navigate public transportation gracefully and safely while inebriated. i’m also honored to have had her as one of the amazing women who stood up as a bridesmaid at our wedding. in her post today, jill explains her transition from a big city to a small mountain town. it is an extremely interesting read, even to me, because this girl, as she explains, loves chicago more than anyone i know.
Two years ago, my husband and I came plummeting over Vail Pass in an 18-foot moving truck, towing our Jeep behind us. Two weeks prior, I had been offered my dream job after what felt like an eternity of searching. The catch: said dream job was located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (population 9,614), literally a thousand miles away from anything I considered to be, well, normal.
A self-professed city girl, I had spent the past six years of my life living and breathing everything CHICAGO. My passion for that city literally had no limits – my husband will not-so-gladly tell you that I basically refused to get married until he was able to move in to the city from the suburbs, because I simply wouldn’t budge. The diversity, the opportunity, the music, the architecture, the FOOD, the cacophony… good god, it was glorious! Every last bit of it. Over those six years of city living, I had lived in nine apartments – all in different neighborhoods – constantly moving and experiencing different corners of the city that I loved.
And then came the day for my friends to help us pack up the last moving truck that would carry us West, into an unknown, and an entirely new adventure.
There are a lot of adjustments one has to make when moving from a city of 2.7 million people to a town of less than 10,000. For example, there are no amazing Puerto Rican salons that can actually deal with my untamable hair. I can count the number of decent restaurants in this whole valley on two hands – maybe one. Want to find a home to rent? You pretty much have two options… in the whole town. You generally don’t have to worry about your bike being lifted or you car broken into… unless you’re car camping, and a bear wants to get at your cooler. Don’t even think about going to the grocery store and not running into someone you know. One day running errands, I ran into the same friend four times at four different locations. Anonymity is just not an option here.
It took about a year for me to notice that this place was changing me. When you don’t have thousands of options of where to shop, where to eat, where to drink, who to meet, life becomes a lot more… simple. Instead of rushing out to try “the next big hot spot” (because those don’t exist), my husband and I spend our weekends charting out new trails to hoof in these amazing mountains. We learn to cook our favorite ethnic dishes and invite friends over to eat with us. Fashion trends literally do not exist in this town, so I’ve essentially let that part of my life go and regularly rotate about five outfits. I can bike to work in 10 minutes flat, and so much of my life has been reclaimed by not having to sit in traffic to go anywhere.
I must confess that on my last trip to Chicago, when out to a very fancy meal in one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods, I felt a bit like a bumpkin. I had borrowed one of my best friend’s dresses to wear out that night, because I had packed the same dress from Target that I have owned for (at least) the past four years. I didn’t know that this restaurant had been featured in Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the most important restaurants in America – information I seriously prided myself on knowing in my Chicago days. On the cab ride to the restaurant, I couldn’t stop staring up like a tourist at the towering buildings – and gasping every time the driver cut someone off in traffic. I’m accustomed to moving at a much slower pace now.
There are things about my Chicago-ness that I will never let go of, and are very un-bumpkin. I will forever celebrate diversity and remain open-minded. I will always favor walking or taking public transportation over driving a car. And, should a new restaurant ever open in Glenwood Springs, you can be certain I’ll still be the first to review it on Yelp. But the parts of me that have turned bumpkin, those which I embrace: not caring about trends, not feeling pressured to be in a rat race over my career, not spending every last dime on fancy food and drink, staying in more than going out, favoring the outdoors, growing my own food, enjoying an unspoiled landscape that stretches for miles, having conversations in quiet and uninterrupted spaces. It’s peaceful here, and this has allowed my husband and I the time and space to get to know ourselves better, and grow. We hope to continue to grow into this mountain lifestyle for many, many years to come. I guess I really am a city girl, converted.
Thank you, Emily, for allowing me the space on your blog to process some of these ponderings and sharing some thoughts from over the mountain.
That was then. Chicago winters were real rough.
This is now. Free to roam in the wide open spaces.