Phenomenal Woman

mayaangelouvoguePhoto credit: Taylor Jewell

I read my daughter Still I Rise. She sat quietly, listening. This 2 year old sage child. When I finished, she asked for “more poem.” So I read her one I love, Phenomenal Woman. And still she wanted more. I picked a shorter one, A Conceit. She would look up at me as I read, but stayed intently focused on listening.

Words cannot express what a hole Maya Angelou will have left in this world. But I take heart that her words, both written and spoken, will resonate for a long time to come. In what we read to our children. In advice we turn to when we are feeling broken.

I loved who she was, and the grace and strength she encouraged in others. She was indeed a phenomenal woman.

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Love Is A Verb

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I used to say that when I had a child, that they would know that they were loved. But I had no idea what that would mean in action. I had no idea the length my patience would stretch. No idea that when it snapped, it would rebound back onto me, causing my heart to be stabbed with the words that flew like broken glass.

As mothers we all fall short at times, mostly of our own expectations. I often remind myself to speak gently, to get down on her level, but so often I feel like a failure. I worry. I worry a lot. I want to cocoon around her and just be. When she was a baby I (like many mothers before me) would just lie enthralled with her. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much. I’d ask mamas with 2 how it was, genuinely trying to understand.

And then there was to be two. I loved the idea of them so close. I dreamed of giggling and secret sharing. And then like waking, the loss hit. As time passed, and the lack of support abounded, I realized that the only secret sharing going on was that I was supposed to keep quiet about the pain that had ripped my future apart.

I threw myself into E, clinging to her out of a sheer desperation to not go over the cliff into despair. You see a lot clearer in the midst of trying to survive. I learned who in my life were acquaintances masquerading as friends rather than people I could actually talk to. I taught myself that silence was not the answer. That there is no shame in speaking out, because maybe if we all did, doctors wouldn’t give shit advice such as “it’ll be like a bad period.”

Because I went into labor. I pushed and instead of new beginnings it was an end to a path we had headed down.

This last year I learned what love in action meant. It was a small hand on my face as I sobbed. It was a husband not allowing me to believe that our fertility troubles were a punishment for my small failings as a mama. (That is one of the hardest thoughts I ever had to admit to.)

It was the moving through that to run in the sunshine. To blow bubbles. To kick a ball in ballet flats because my girl is going to be a footballer someday. To sit quietly and read books that I’m so tired of but she loves. And lately, my love in action is making things for her. To see her face light up when she sees a felt pancake. My heart melts as she tells her daddy in reverent tones that I made it for her. She’s so loved, and she radiates the knowledge of that.

I’m not trying to win “mama of the year” or come across as a better mama than others. I’m just cutting through the bullshit in this competitive game parenting has become and loving on my daughter through actively pursuing her heart. Loving your child might look different, and that’s fantastic. But life is too damn short and mercurial for me to worry about anything but making sure she knows without a doubt that the road that curved sharply the day we found out she was coming was the best damn road we’d ever come across.

We all have our own paths to take. I lost my way a year ago. I’m finding it now.

Thirty

4thbirthday

When you’re a kid, 30 seems so old. By my early 20’s I was already looking forward to it. It’s hard being an old soul in a world that values youth.

So today I said a fond farewell to my 20’s. My 20’s held marrying and moving overseas and having E, so I was in no rush to say goodbye, but not filled with any desire to linger either. There would be no 2nd 29th birthday here.

I’m looking forward to this new decade. Such a great blank notebook just waiting to be filled with adventures. It’s a beautiful sunny day after flooding here in Charm City. My husband brought me tea in bed in one of my gifts, and surprised me with my secret present, a restored 1930’s fountain pen. He said that he knew how much I loved the 20’s and 30’s and that he could think of no better gift for a writer. I love him.

So tonight we’ll eat a dinner at our favorite French restaurant. We’ll toast and laugh and look forward to the future. It’s a privilege to grow older, and I’m more than a little excited to see what this decade will bring!