When you are in it, when it is all you and strollers and baby carriers and swaddles around the clock, you can’t quite see the central thing you are carrying, because it is too total. Perhaps it is also too terrifying to name. But it hums in your every cell: this being that you cherish so much, its survival is uncertain, yet undetermined.
You know so intimately: she wouldn’t make it a mere few minutes without the right kind of care. And you know, you are the one holding this partial, tender life, holding it until this being lands more solidly here.
This is the big thing at the center of your life, no matter how much support you have, or what you put on the calendar that day.
And then, if you are in that way so lucky, so blessed, that little one gets a little older, and somewhere in the early school years you look at them across the kitchen, astonished by how their head now reaches to the height of the chair, and you say to yourself, “My God, they are really, fully here. They are standing strong on their own two feet. They are not about to tip over the high chair or tumble down the stairs by accident, and they might not even wake up calling for me tonight.” And your whole self exhales – a little.
And as your own nights get longer, and they can grab that snack from the cabinet themselves, and they play with their siblings or the neighbors more easily now, you find that some new river of aliveness opens up, for you to remember your own dear body, or move it deliberately again, or wash your face with care. The angel of creativity descends again. The muse comes back. And you begin once again to create.
You have a whole new set of things to say now, built out of milk and flesh and mess. You didn’t think you were growing much, through the endless diapers and baths and preschool drop-offs, but you were wrong. You were growing, changing, being reorganized and reconstituted. You were being sanded down by trial, and into you were being woven into new layers and layers of soft love.
You are something more well-worn and beautiful now. You understand now how human beings are trees of kin, all of us hanging upon the branches of those who came before. You are too steeled and too tired to hide the truth in the ways you once did. You know more now, about how to be the mountain, solid and ever-present in the landscape, so that a child running on the plain can turn back and look, every now and then, and know they are accompanied by something vast and strong. You never thought you would become the mountain, never thought your shoulders would grow broad like that, but here you are – still unsure what to make of your new form.
For all of us who consent to be sculpted into new shapes by trials and relationships and time, I honor you.
And if you are in the days of fog and intensity – I speak it from the other side: new layers of goodness are being woven in you. And clear seeing, idea whispers, fire in the belly to create – it all comes back.