Babymoon

Six precious weeks of dreamy days and drift-y nights, of pleasant surreality and an enchantment I don’t want to wear off. Six exhausting weeks where, in this eclipse of “normal life”, hours often float in tender slow motion between the mugs of hot chocolate.

Six chaotic weeks of adjusting to a new pace of life – or rather, a pace I danced before (but rather differently – I didn’t also have another child’s needs to meet then). A pace where Leaving The House is an epic (and sometimes abandoned!) mission. Where, once out, the usual timescales of How Long Our Errands Will Take are totally unpredictable. It’s an enriching challenge to my routine-loving personality that most of my days (and nights) are currently quite unpredictable.

Six precious weeks of being in the constant company of my baby. There’s something magical about a newborn: some kind of holiness surrounding them, a spell they spin over the room they’re in. I think that’s why people so want to visit, to touch them, to hold them. I feel it a sacred honour to be in physical contact with this boy most of the time, under his innocent spell. Even if I do whinge about my back ache, and worry about being enough for him and his brother.

I’ve been held, in these blink-and-you-miss-’em weeks, by the beautiful love I’m surrounded by. Mama friends have gifted cake, soup and help with my eldest son. My own mother amazingly gifted us two weeks where she stayed with us, helping out. Other friends have gifted reassurance on the harder days. All these things have enabled me to focus on my family; on our transition and on the welcoming of our newest member.

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There seem to be various practices centering around the six weeks postpartum period. From Ecuadorian closing the bones ceremonies to  traditional “confinements”. From Ayurvedic massage and dietary practices to contemporary six-week check-ups with the doctor. Of course, nothing suddenly changed on the day that my son completed six weeks in the world. He didn’t suddenly snap into a routine. I didn’t suddenly “get” the new dance required of me.

I certainly didn’t start drinking less hot chocolate.

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Vanishing

I was blessed with a beautiful glimpse of the vanishing moon – the waning crescent – this morning. The last, or maybe penultimate, sliver before she enters her dark phase. Sadly I have no photo due to our brilliant little camera being away at the camera hospital, having accidentally met with my arm and then the kitchen floor. Can I blame pregnancy for such clumsiness? Let’s go with yes.

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A Great-Grandmother Moon from a less clumsy time in my life. This morning’s moon was leaning back a little more, and the sky a little darker with Venus shining brightly quite nearby.

I correlate the dark phase of the lunar cycle with the Winter Solstice in the solar cycle, so today we’re around similar times in both. I hold the word vanishing in my mind and think about its correlation to my own life right now: the vanishing days before the Solstice and Christmas is upon us (why am I not more organised for these events by this point in December?! And why do I leave it so late every year?!), the vanishing weeks before my baby is due to be born, my seemingly vanishing energy in the evenings. The vanishing sense of anxiety about it all as I realise that, really, almost everything that’s truly important has been done; by the time baby comes, we’ll be ready to welcome them.

Back outside, the colour is fast vanishing from our garden as the last of the nasturtiums have died and the green leaves are pretty few. The piles of crisp, vibrant leaves on the ground are vanishing into brown soggy mud and mush. The light starts vanishing not long after 3pm. “Come inside,” it all whispers sleepily, “find a blanket. Rest and dream”.

The full moon in my different phases

As a child, I don’t remember having much of a relationship with the moon, except that it often had a magical role in stories I enjoyed. In the maiden phase of my life, during my early steps along my spiritual path, the moon and her cycles became greatly important how I lived my day-to-day life and gained understanding of myself.

The full moon phase was always busy; I would hope to not be working a late shift! I’d have a sacred bath before dressing in special clothes, silver jewellery and make up. I’d decorate my altar, bake/buy cake. eat a special meal and go for an evening walk. I’d work a spell, do a Tarot spread and carefully put my crystals and other magical items out to charge in the powerful moonlight.

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With my rocky arrival into motherhood, my focus shifted. I was, like many new parents, exhausted, clueless and overwhelmed. My baby was mostly either feeding or crying and I was shaken from how the birth went. My instincts and intuition were lost among emotion, nappies and inability to keep on-top of housework. I didn’t really give much thought to my spirituality for a while. It’s not uncommon for mothers to immerse themselves in the needs of their babies and forget who they themselves are. My understanding is that some don’t recover this until around when the kids leave home.

I guess now, in this new phase of my life, I have a new relationship with the full moon; the mother moon. I identify with this energy. I feel her within myself. The nurturing, creative, intuitive, maternal aspects. The high-emotion, heavy, tired aspect. The challenges and magic of this ongoing process of birthing a new person into the big wide world. The abundance of joy, learning, fun, love, pain and chaos.

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My menu of full-moon night activities is somewhat leaner. I rarely devote the whole night to it, and the focus tends to be on being rather than on doing. I watch the moon from our garden, drawn to her stillness – her calmness – rather than her power. I go inside and meditate, or journal, or draw a single Tarot card.

I wonder how my full moon nights will change as I move out of early motherhood, through mothering all the childhood ages ahead, and eventually towards my cronehood and beyond. For now I savour my simple menu.

)o(

IMG_1519(framed picture is of a work by Wendy Andrew: www.paintingdreams.co.uk)

Morning

Some mornings, I’m gifted solitude.

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Health-conscious people tell me I should start my day with yoga and a large glass of hot water with lemon. I’ve tried to but I always wake hungry. I think I always have. Perhaps I’m just not so yogic-ly pure and self-controlled!

However, when I reach our kitchen, I go straight to the back door. The delicate sunlight seems vulnerable. Breeze quivers leaves without sound. The garden nods its “good morning” with silent, gentle reverence. It’s like watching a movie in mute. It’s enchanting. I open the door to switch the silent-movie alive and I take a few appreciative breaths. Communion. I do a few little stretches while the kettle boils; my compromise for the lack of something more disciplined.

I nearly always wake early… usually accompanied by my son and his incessant chatter. I well know that, in years to come, when I’m no longer worried about him waking the neighbours, I’ll treasure my memories of greeting the day with him. I’ll miss it. So – although in this year it’s the alone-time I treasure – I pay attention to his voice, to the funny things he talks about, to his posture, the way he flicks his hair and the deliberation with which he spoons his muesli into his beautiful little mouth (insisting on using a big spoon!). I lock these things preciously in my heart for when this wild, crazy season of early parenthood has tumbled by and I can get the memories out again to marvel at with a different, more savouring appreciation. For when I’ll regret not savouring it all more at the time.

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Every early morning, I feel the hope, the promise and the renewal offered by the new day in the way that I do at new moon or new year. Or on Mondays. Ayurveda assigns this time to Vata dosha and it certainly feels light, creative and swift-moving to me. I get blown along, sometimes with an idea awakening too. Sometimes just with the memory-making chatter.

Special days and simple rites of passage: starting kindergarten

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Earlier this month, my son started at a Steiner kindergarten; three mornings each week. Dylan hadn’t experienced nursery or daycare before  – he and I have really spent very little time apart since he was conceived. So it was as much my First Day at Kindergarten and I wanted to make this a special day. A special day for him  and for us as a family to acknowledge the milestone it is in our family life. I also didn’t want to make it too huge a thing, or heap a load of pressure, expectation and too much spotlight onto Dylan.

A few weeks before he started, we began to talk often about what going to Kindergarten would be like. I introduced a new game to him: the Going To Kindergarten Game, where we essentially role-played a kindergarten morning. We’d visited Kindy by this point and knew the routine and typical activities of a usual morning there. I included in the game along with repeated reassurance on how I’d pick him up at lunchtime. Dylan was given a lunch bag over Yuletide and I’d made him a drawstring bag to carry his things in. (below).IMG_2787

I also asked members of our close family for a brief message wishing him well that I could put together into a little booklet for him (pictured top – the gorgeous painting of the little girl is by Marjan Van Zeyl). We read him the messages over breakfast on his first day, hoping to give him the feeling that the people closest to him were each “present” in this way, and thinking of him. Dylan’s uncle had supplied a TS Elliot quote, Rob and I a poem (below) and his grandparents had contributed well-wishing messages – Grandpa had drawn lovely pictures on his and Granny’s, which brought a smile to Dylan’s face immediately!

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Luckily my husband and I were both able to take and collect him together on his first day. The kindergarten is a little way from where we live so I stayed around the area “in case they needed to phone at all”.  In reality, from the moment that he ran off with barely a wave goodbye, we knew he’d be fine and that this move was for me more than him! I had a walk (and a bit of a weep. And a phonecall to my own mum; I’m always grateful to connect with my own mother in these mothering milestones of my own!) I spent the rest of the morning in a cafe with a huge hot drink and slice of cake to fuel writing a poem and some journalling. It felt so useful to have this time for self-reflection, nurture and creative expression.

When we collected Dylan, his face was covered in smiles and mud from outdoor play. He had lots that he was eager to tell us – and of course we were eager and excited to listen! I’d brought one of his favourite things for him to eat for lunch and had some cookies waiting at home for later. That makes me sound like a much, much more movie-perfect mum than I even come close to; I emphasise that this was just for his first day! And whilst every morning at kindergarten certainly isn’t followed by cookies, it is followed by some time together during the afternoon to reconnect over a story, or playdough, or paints, or in the garden. We’re still settling into our new rhythm, still getting used to all it asks from us, still finding creative ways to address the challenges it brings. It’s an adjustment. One season in my life changes to another and it feels good to honour it. ♥

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full moon: Mother moon

IMG_1214It’s a bit of of a tough spot here in Mama-land. Fewer blogposts written, incompletion of projects, a shortened fuse, an increased number of text messages between my mother and I…these are the symptoms of an Attack of The Night Owl Toddler and the resulting reduced physical and mental energy. Of course said toddler, by day, is still as energetic, super-curious, adventurous, strong-willed and rarely still for more than two seconds. This is who he is  – this is how many toddlers are to my understanding – and I adore him for it. In my heart, I wouldn’t want him any other way.

Yet it is intense, particularly as I am within a few feet of him for all the hours of six and a half days per week. My opinion, backed by that of many, is that we weren’t meant to raise children in such isolated units; we’re designed to have a family community or tribe around us to dilute the intensity of these growing little people who are developing at what can only be an intense rate for them too. I’m grateful that technology enables me to access my mother’s support and wisdom, despite the miles between us. I’m grateful for the online and physical communities of like-minded parents who share their support and wisdom with me, for the books and magazines that also guide my journey and, of course, for the wonderfully supportive and hands-on other half of this parent team: my husband.

Yet, as well as the support that the mama hands and mama brain need, the mama soul needs feeding and replenishing too. Many write about how creative pursuits can provide such nourishment; Lucy Pearce in particular has explained this need well to me. I also turn to the moon, especially the full moon; the mother phase. On most full moon nights since learning that I was pregnant, I’ve stood outside, bathing for a few minutes in the silvery white glow. On these nights I admire her mystical beauty and connect with the mother energy in her and in myself. Often, these nights have found me making a plea for her wisdom and guidance, or feeling the coolness of her light cool my current parenting frustrations. I observe the strength of her wholeness and draw down that strength to help replenish my own.

So many other mothers exist and have existed under this same moon. Millions of us.  In connecting with Mother Moon, I hope to draw down their pooled wisdom as well as offer my own ( for there are odd days when I do find a way, crack a problem or learn a technique). At the very least, I draw down the fact that they survived; as far as I know, no-one has died of simply having a toddler! I hold an image of myself on a rocky, twisty-turny path, Mother Moon lighting my way as I carve it out, Dylan beside me. Like with the text messages from my mum, I let myself feel mothered a little, That warm feeling of being loved and nurtured replenishes my own heart and soul to mother with more love, empathy, patience and compassion. Patience with both him and with myself, for we’re both learning new roles here. In the moon’s light, I give myself permission to forgive those times when I’ve not been the parent I want to be: the parent I believe Dylan needs. Once again, I drink in the bright moonlight through every pore of my skin to fuel that goal.

And to that shining, milky sphere who, to me, resembles the mother, who corresponds to the times in our lives when we are birthing and mothering – be that a child, a business, a project, a garden or whatever – I usually shed a few tears, and always give thanks, ♥

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painting on altar by Wendy Andrews
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