All photos by More Beatty.
It’s been a while since I’ve said anything here. Lately I can barely get around to leaving snippets on Instagram of what we are up to, let alone develop, photograph, and share new recipes or ideas. When I do find the time, the mental space and focus are even harder to come by. Such is the life of early motherhood, I guess, or at least it is for me. I miss blogging and creating, but when you have a three-year-old who craves your time and a baby going through the “purple crying” phase it is better to close your computer, put your phone aside, and try to be present when your presence means so much (and while it still means so much).
This has been a year of changes and shake-ups—a move to Charlotte, the death of a grandparent, a scary string of medical tests (I’m fine) and finally a beautiful new baby. Through it all this blog has been sitting in the back of my mind. Sometimes when there is so much to be said, it’s hard to say anything. It’s like each event of this year has been building until finally it seems it will tumble over Jenga-style if I touch it. So I am just going to talk about where we are right now: Living in the moment as a family of four.
We moved to Charlotte in March after five years tethered to Washington, D.C. and welcomed our new baby, Graham, in May. Since then life has moved at time warp speed. Wondering where the time goes in relation to children is such a frequently used adage, but witnessing the swift evolution of a life from newborn to child really does emphasize the sentiment’s truth. The stages of babyhood and early childhood are brief. Each milestone reached, each concept grasped and discovered, each time a favorite shoe or shirt won’t quite fit, or your help is not needed, you recognize that time—and your baby—has moved on.
Raising kids is tough and tiring, so I try to remind myself that these are the days. These are the days when they are full of sweetness and potential. These are the days when I regularly get to delight in snuggles. These are the days that I get to watch and connect with my children while they love being completely who they are (and I adore who they are). These are the days when my little ones are excited for nearly everything we do together. Even when my independent preschooler is out of sorts it is so easy for her to lose her troubles in a line of ants crossing the sidewalk or the promise of pancakes in the morning.
As with all things, there is sacrifice, uncertainty, and aggravation (oh, the aggravation!) when devoting your time to parenting, but what I want to emphasize the most here is the good I have found in it. There is a bliss that comes with motherhood that is far less cliché than it seems. It is not so much about maternal feelings—though those are plentiful these days too—it is more about the perspective that comes from experiencing young humans. Spending time with a child has helped me recognize how effortless joy can be when we are open to it, the freshness of each new day, and how miraculous our existence is.
“Babies are bits of star dust blown from the hand of God. Lucky the woman who knows the pangs of birth for she has held a star.” – Playwright Larry Barretto
A few weeks ago we got to witness the Great American Eclipse in its totality. It was a powerful experience to stand in the dark in the middle of the day and stare at what looked like a black sun with our naked eye. It only lasted around 2 minutes, but the feelings it prompted stayed with me. I could not stop thinking about what a cool experience it was to witness a rare celestial event. The observable universe has over 100 billion galaxies, among them is our own Milky Way which has roughly 300 billion stars, and among those is our very own sun, which likely for the only time in my life I got to see eclipsed by the moon. It is hard to fathom such vastness and, in effect, such smallness.
That night as I rocked Graham in his dark room before bed I thought about the sun and the moon and my little family dealing with all our trials and triumphs underneath it all. As Graham breathed softly on my neck and I snuggled against his cheek, I recognized how the love I have for my children feels bigger than the universe itself. All of those innumerable galaxies could not hold all of the love I felt in that ordinary moment. Then I thought of all the other mothers and fathers from all walks of life out there feeling the same things as they cared for their children that night. We are incredibly small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and yet the stirrings of our hearts can feel bigger than all of existence. That is truly remarkable.
There are times when I’ve had ringing in my ears from all the crying bedtime has generated or when I am so tired that I could just cry, but to live is to take the bitter with the sweet and you can choose which one to focus on. Even in challenging times I want to enjoy these two little stars to the fullest. These are the days and I want to live, feel and be completely open to all the good in each one.