Stillness was one of my words for 2017. Cultivating stillness — not necessarily remaining still, but making sure to find time to slow down, or stop. Scheduling that in, making moments of quite and peace a priority. I am a better everything when I am making self care a priority. We are all better, calmer, more patient with each other, when we focus on creating moments to stop and simple be quiet with ourselves, to check in.
We have not been very still this month. We indulged in a rather lazy March, taking time to slow down almost to the point of stopping. Not rushing, not living just to survive and put one foot in front of the other in front of the other. So, you know, that meant we were behind on everything, in April. So these last two weeks have been working weeks, actually following through on tasks and making sure we do projects that have been on the to-do list for a little while. I’ve undergone some major changes in my work, dealt with some situations. Did a lot of making choices and deciding what was most important to me, weighing my priorities.
We’ve been busy, we’ve been working hard, being responsible. Pushing ourselves to be social and productive. And we were tired.
So — finally, I got some comp time for working on-call. Our plan was simple — the same thing we always do if we actually manage to both get a day off and good weather and no pressing demands. I went to work for a couple hours, came home, packed up my family and headed over the river to Lake Glendale.
Taking trips, even shorter ones, with a baby can be — well, complicated. There’s a lot more planning than there used to be. We try and be minimalist in our packings, but we also like to be prepared for potential-probable situations. And you know, trying to stick a time table with Baby can be laughable. If you really need them to nap before you leave, and they usually nap at 9:30, you can bet the day trip will be the day she decides she doesn’t want to nap at 9:30.
But although we aren’t experts, we’ve grown enough in our parenting chops over the last 8(-almost-9-ugh)months to the point where we know we can handle it. We know Ari will get fussy at some point during a longer jaunt out, and that we are capable of handling that. We will try all the tools in our arsenal, and if for some reason, those don’t work, we’ll get inventive new ones until we handle the situation. And, if worst comes to absolute worst, we can always go home. Has any parent not had that moment where you went, ah, this isn’t worth it, and left your shopping cart or the drive-thru line or the party early, and just went home. It’s rare, these days, and I’m so grateful for my baby girl’s empowerment and growing patience — but it’s nice to know it’s always an option.
The drive went smoothly, Ari had had a little nap but not for long that morning. She started to think she maybe-kinda-coulda been a little sleepy on the drive, fussing here and there, but generally content, easily distracted. The sky was that stupid spring blue, like audacious with those big cartoon clouds. The fields were full, golden flowers, white lacy ones, tall grass. We had the radio playing, we took our time we did not rush. We arrived and found the park nearly empty. Already, sitting on our picnic blanket, the pines stretching overhead, the dogwoods fluffy — we realized how still it was. We didn’t have radio or TV or phones or internet or conversations or gossip to distract us.
And then — oh, goodness, we got to nurse. Nursing has been a hard-won fight lately. It feels like I’ve been away from Ariadne so much lately that she can forget how to nurse, or that she wants to. If she’s overtired, if she’s too overstimulated — sometimes, in the afternoon or evening, she’s been refusing. And it’s heartbreaking to me. I know there will come a day that she’ll wean, whether it’s tomorrow or in six months, whenever — but it feels too soon to be now. We nurse so well in the morning, and weekends, and then, it seems so worth it to fight through the bad attempts, because the good ones are still so good. I felt myself at a crossroads where I wasn’t sure whether I was pushing us both too hard, or if this was another rough patch we needed to be patient with to get through.
I’d been hoping, earlier this week when we had the bad days, that if we could just push through bad nursing to today, when I’d be off most of the day, it’d be worth it. And it was. I sat crosslegged against a tree and Ariadne nursed so well, so patiently, so eagerly, her fingers tangled in my braid as her big eyes watched the birds and butterflies. I was so grateful, I try and store up every positive nursing experience at this stage because I know they may not be many in the comings weeks or months. That bonding, that connection, that reminder of the early, early days when all she needed was me to make her happy — I can’t give it up easily.
And then, we walked, we hiked. I had Ariadne in the Tula, and she was clearly sleepy. The trees and the wind had put her under a spell, but once in the Tula, she realized it again.
So — we walked. In near silence, for a long time. I bounced, I swayed, I patted, I shh’d. I used all my mom tricks I’ve learned in the past few months. Shaun trailed behind me, here and there we paused to bounce a little extra vigorously, pick up the shhing again. Ariadne’s eyes drooped, then slow blinked. She neared sleep, and then — I felt her entire body relax against mine. She fell asleep, zonked completely out.
We walked, and we were so quiet. We had that stillness we’d so desperately needed. We had this time of being alone with our thoughts, soaking in all that quiet, all those trees, those leaves, the wind on the water. That’s church to me, right there. Nothing makes me feel more spiritual than being still and quiet in nature. It presses upon you how trivial your daily concerns are, how trite your worries. It makes you stop and reevaluate yourself, reexamine your blessings and your privilege. You return from nature grateful for the reminder that the world goes on, that trees keep growing and turtles keep flopping into the lake and dogwood blossoms still flutter to the ground, whether you know or care about it at all.
You know that moment you pray to, in periods of strife or stress? When you’re thinking, if I can just make it until this day, if I can just survive until this happens, I’ll just hang tough until this. That day when everything will be calmer or simpler or pay day comes or you get a day off, finally. I felt like we got to ours today, that moment of bliss and actualization. The rush, the business, the challenges — it was all worth it because we got to have this day, just the three of us, to go to one of our favourite places to do one of our favourite things.
Baby woke up, as we neared our picnic spot again. She was so sweaty and heavy and droopy-eyed, but then her rosy cheeks perked up, she started smiling, pleased as punch to wake up and find both Mama and Papa with her, talking sweet to her. She got to wake up slow, kicking her chubby legs in the breeze, and before long, we headed home.
Tomorrow, we pick right back up again. Back to work, back to laundry and socialization and responsibility. Back to planning ahead and grocery shopping and working out. But we go with that freshness in our hearts, our patience lengthened, our cups just a little more full.