When my first son was born, I was so in love that I stopped showering. I was so in over my head that I would finally get him down for a nap and I would panic.
Should I shower, eat, check my emails, write or work on the schedule for my new business?
Somehow I would end up on Instagram as I was trying to decide, wanting to feel connected to my network, and then my 10-minute window of free-time would be up—my hair would still be greasy, my stomach would still be grumbling, and I would have my baby back in my arms again. My sweet boy.
Newborn time is soft and doughy. It's not quite moldable yet. It's sticky. I was not prepared for how the hands of matrescence would reshape me, or how the yeast of maternal ardor would patiently raise me. I didn't become a mother because I knew how to be one. I became one to become one.
Bringing a child into our home was simultaneously a miracle and a hurricane. Maybe calling it a natural disaster isn't quite right. However, if it's possible to see a naturally occurring phenomenon, which can be seen coming, and yet which has the power to reshape a landscape in one fell swoop — then perhaps the likelihood isn't too far off.
A new landscape needs to be adapted to. Every schedule and ritual I had for myself was no longer relevant. I needed to fit all the pieces back together again, and many of the pieces—pieces that I loved—no longer fit with the regularity I had come to know.
The bluffs of my life had suddenly been washed away. I had been teaching self-care to mothers for nearly two decades. I used to spend hours developing methods for them, and therefore myself. Now I needed to figure out how to prescribe micro-doses for myself, but I couldn't find my footing and my arms were getting tired.
My husband had a much easier time adapting. He naturally let go of so many of the passions, which had occupied his leisure time for years, and he went with the flow of our new life. Of course he didn't have the internal conflicts around spending time at work, versus being home to raise his children that I had, but that's another story for another day.
Regardless, my husband seemed to understand that our lives would change again and again, and that we could ride those waves. I clung. Not literally, but emotionally. And not on purpose. I was scared. However, the more easy going I allow myself to be, the more honest I feel and the more I enjoy my time with my family.
I am re-learning how to take care of myself as well as them, and how to ask for and accept support. Although, if I'm being honest, the un-clinging has felt less like a rebranding and at times it feels like — drowning.
There are many moments when I feel like I am drowning in an ocean I call Motherhood. The metaphorical waters surround me, and envelope me, and consume me, until I become—the ocean. I become—Motherhood. Over and over again.
The girl, the individual that I was, perishes and is reborn in a breath of learning how to be the mother my children need. This surrender is where my endurance comes from. In drowning my fears with love, and surrendering to the currents, I am becoming the Mother. I am becoming the kind of mother I want to be:
Present. Passionate. Encouraging.
One of the ways that I have evolved since becoming a mother is through returning to my first love—poetry. Watching the joy with which my children play drove me back into the arms of verse.
I hold myself to a very high standard of presence when I am with my family, and I want to capture all of the intensity and love of this time, so I write. I write poetry out of our little stories, and I hope to encourage other mothers to create out of the petals of their days, which oftentimes seem routine and homely, but which are of course precious gifts of a moment in time.
This is a poem I wrote about one of the surprising miracles that cropped up in my newborn home. It shares a story of surprise, discovery, and the sense of humor that accompanies becoming a new parent. This poem also contains my favorite bit of advice for newborn moms: Plant your baby's belly button!
The Belly Button Plants
Before all of this I was a virgin to Mother Nature.
Then we placed our first-born's crusty, umbilical bit
in the soil of our spider plant, and everything changed.
Was it a few weeks later when the most marvelous surprise occurred?
First teeth, I was expecting,
but when the chlorophytum commotion sprouted
a thin stem that grew into a peduncle, a lifeline,
to a tiny twinkle-twinkle cluster of heavenly flowers—
I was awed.
Was it a few weeks later when I lay my son down onto the bed?
I, effete, laid down next to him. My son turned to me
with his first, irradiant sprout of consciousness.
There you are, we giggled together.
At night, after our son fell asleep,
Riding on the second-winds of time-to-ourselves—
My husband and I argued, or watched old movies.
We noted the growing weight of our newborn, binary stars.
"If there were soil there I believe it would plant," my husband observed.
Petals befell a mohawk of leaves, and an earthbound chunk-a-dunk of roots.
We thought it was the coolest thing we had ever witnessed—
Fancy a plant nourished to life by our son's stem cells.
What could be more miraculous than that?