I cannot think of a day as a mother when I am not tired. When I don’t have some major overpowering worry or doubt that freezes me stiff, or seizes me in a bout of anxiety. Just yesterday, the baby came in on the babysitter’s back, her forehead leaning in, pressed into a wool coat. As she came up to look at me, I saw red and white clouds drifting across her countenance: a dance of splotchy spots. I assumed it was the pressure of raw wool on soft skin. Yet, four hours later, the marks were only redder, deeper, angrier. The baby looked flushed, and her innocence of what to me looked like some terrible disease, made her even more endearing. I fluttered into a chest paralyzing fear. What could this be? How could this have happened? All my questions had no good answers, except perhaps a reaction to kiwis. My mama soul ruffles into a protective swan, neck arching defiantly, wings outstretched.
I think my heart and everything surrounding it has gotten bigger. There is a fine-knit, and enhanced, cloud enveloping my being, my ears, my eyes, my sense of smell, and simply all my senses. They are all on their tiptoes alerting me of their surroundings while I pour myself into the role of mother and care for my young child.
Some days I wish I trusted my intuition more deeply though. For if I pay attention, it is there, within me all the time: an energy that only need be woken up carefully and paid heed to, like a special voodoo doll guiding me in my pocket.
I can hear through walls, and up stairwells, detecting even the faintest of sighs, cries, or sneezes. Through the stillness I am clued in to that particular silence that is foreboding of mischief or danger. Like the day I looked over while chopping carrots and saw the baby content sucking on the i-pad charger, with a look mixed of pride and innocence.
My heart is on high alert when an ambulance goes by, or someone raps loudly at the door, lest the baby be woken. I can see a wobbly foot leading to a fall, sense danger looming around the corner. I simply know when the baby is sick, or when she is in a good mood; when it’s time to go home and she has had too much of even a good thing.
Some days I pray to our angels to protect us. Some days I envision myself gently wrapped into the mantle of Mary. The indigo folds tucking me in warmly, while the golden leaf stars twinkle in the dome above my head. In her arms I rest like a lamb. Some days, I imagine —for lack of a better name—my mythological mother coming to me when I call upon her. I smile to her. She gives me strength. She knows how to support me. She listens me.
It is dream acts like these that allow me to move forward. Acknowledging the power of being alive, despite days on days of sleep deprivation. I move into the heart of being a mother. Each day a little deeper. It is the most important life lesson I have learned to date. It is a 24 hour-long meditation (just pause and press repeat each morning) involving patience, compassion, pure love.
Of course there are those moments when the thought of throwing in the towel lumbers across the screen of my mind. I see it coming like a freight train with no brakes. Then I hop off.
I see my baby trying, with every fiber of her being to stand up, holding on to our bookcase; the back of her downy head covered in fine blonde hair; her short arms flailing and waving, as her legs wobble, and she does a flamingo dance, aiming to hoist herself upward.
My thought abdicates. My heart, my widened mama’s soul, takes charge, sending all other sentinels to lunch. It fires me into a rosy love that extends to the outer posts of my existence.