04 September 2008

What The Fuck is Chasing Ursula?

It’s been so long since my last post. I’m a bad blogger. Little Z is now Big Z, eight months old and speeding toward nine. She can crawl, stand, cruise along the sofa, yell like a pirate, fart like a sailor, use her pincer grip on cheerios and lovingly say, Da da and Jihad. She has two teeth (which have more than put a damper on breast feeding) and a smile that lights the world on fire. I’m jealous of my mom friends who post weekly and have a lovely chronicle of these precious days. I find myself spent and lacking creativity at the day’s end. Sleep deprivation began sometime mid-pregnancy and persists to this day. It’s a wonder I can construct a grammatically correct sentence and an even greater wonder that the bathroom is clean.

I don’t have words to express how much I love her. It’s excruciating. I don’t know what I expected, but this love is enormous, beautifully painful and incontrovertible. At the end of the day, I think, love alone is not enough. I must be a thoughtful and engaged steward of her becoming and I must play with her relentlessly. It’s difficult to play relentlessly amidst the mountain of dirty laundry. The singularly most unexpected aspect of motherhood has been the volume of dirty laundry. She’s so tiny, I still don’t understand how she accomplishes soiling so much.

I’m getting the hang of living with her. It’s been a process and just when I think I’ve got something down, things change – she changes, she grows, her capabilities change and yes, even, sometimes I change. In truth, mostly, I change. She teaches me all kinds of things and I discover I’m a slow learner, but I’m getting the hang of it. Just give me time to learn to crawl.

I love alphabet books and Z’s friend Luke gave her a charming board book called Zoe and Her Zebra. Each page dons a letter and says, for example, A is for Alexander, but who is chasing him? And there’ll be a picture of an alligator chasing a boy. But then there are conundrums like this one:

This problem isn’t unique to Zoe and Her Zebra. It’s foreboding. I wonder if I’m going to be able to keep up with her. Not only is there New Math, but there seems to be new and bemusing things that start with the letter U.

I’m mystified by this changing understanding of myself – this new identity of mother. While on the one hand, I want to maintain some well rounded balance of interests and activities, there’s another part of me that believes being wholly a mom is the most important thing I could be doing right now. This is such a critical time developmentally. What could be more important (or more interesting) than swimming, hiking, painting, playing, whispering, singing, napping, reading, dancing, laughing, talking, eating, or dreaming with her?

She won’t remember this time. Who does? But I believe it’s an important time for establishing expectations of relationships and the world. I want to show her wonder and laughter and help her to recognize the world as a place filled with joy and possibilities, mysteries and adventure. I want to cultivate an expectation of laughter in each day and manifest it, even if it’s stirred in right next to sorrow and frustration – the pot holds it all. I want to give her a good strong canvass on which to paint her life and her story – and I want to honor her brush strokes. I believe in her ability to reach. She always seems to come back with something in her hand.

And who am I in that picture? Will she say (or quietly believe) that her mother lacked ambition? My identity is increasingly mom. It’s like I’m being taken over by it. It’s been a surprisingly easy surrender.


Eleanor said...

I have no idea what that thing is, but I sure as hell wouldn't want it chasing my kid. I loved this entry. Motherhood is the one thing I would not change in my life, ever.

FreshHell said...

I'm glad you're back!! Motherhood is intense, no? I didn't get the hang of things until my first was 9 mos old. I worked full time (still do) and breastfed (pumped at work). It was not easy but not anything I would have changed. They change so fast in that first year, as soon as you've got a routine it changes on you. Hang in there. It does get easier. They do eventually sleep.

Sandyz said...

It is wonderful to hear from you, and what a lovely entry. If only I had been so wise as to look ahead when mine were young. I see by reading your entry even being a mom before I had a grasp on life is how much moms change with every new thing our little ones goes through. Most important is that love is timeless...wordless. Enjoy your days Zuzu...I find I envy Zoe you're an awesome mom. Sandyz

titration said...

Woo hoo a new post. Yeah maybe you can chronicle her when she's older. :) for now you seem to be doing a decent job letting the kids books chronicle her.

Zuzu said...

Eleanor - Amen.
Freshhell (Harriet???) - Wait, aren't you Harriet? Do you have two kids??? I'm confused.
SandyZ - Thanks. I hope I'm an awesome mom, but some days Zoe would undoubtedly beg to differ I'm sure. I'm glad things are working out this time around with your husband.
Cousin of Zuzu - So are you going to introduce Lo to your parents another time?

FreshHell said...

No, I'm not Harriet but I do post on her AJs Clubhouse blog. I have two girls, she has one boy. You can find me at http://freshhell.wordpress.com

Monique said...

That looks like a Mexican quail, just the style of the design. Can't think of anything that starts with U though. They don't have an index in the back huh? :P

As for motherhood usurping your identity, I couldn't have said it better. Lovely and frightening at the same time.

Glad you're back to posting!

storm-shadow said...

Have you seen FunnyOrDie's song on Prop. 8? Funny and dead-on. While many blame the blacks and Mormons for this mess, it was also a bit of confusion with people that would have normally been against it. Weird how a campaign can screw things up. Mum's gone loopy. She's going to church and watching way too much TV when she should be exercising her back problems away. Feed the addiction? My little 12 pounds of hair loves the cold weather and continues to chase anything that moves. This year, we've added geese. No longer is 5-Pound Phooey confused at the weird shaped creatures but they need some 'chasin.' Marriage? It's just a matter of time before people realize that gays being able to marry is not the same as cats and dogs living to together. Mass hysteria!

candoor said...

i'd be so proud to have a mom like you :)

here's a website with birds that start with the letter U in case you are still wondering... i'm still wondering, even after looking at the website... did you write the author? :)

maybe it's just an uppity crow, cuz it seems to be acting all uppity :)

i hope your second year with zoe is even more magical than the first :)

storm-shadow said...

Go to Facebook and type in my email address for the search feature. It's "stormshadow19......" (you should still have my addy, right?) It'll take you right to me, a large group of friends, etc. I'm so much happier there.