Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rocky Coastlines

Maine's rocky coastline is the third longest in the country--longer than California, behind only Florida and Louisiana. It is beautiful and treacherous. 60+ lighthouses warn of its dangerous allure.

The landscape of motherhood is eerily similar. From a distance, even more so as one approaches, it is beautiful and alluring. How many times did I ache to hold my own newborn in my arms. To nurse her. To breathe in the particular scent of the crown of her head. To wear her in a sling while cooking dinner.

And later, to catch snowflakes on our tongues and plunge our hands into the still-cool earth to plant peas.

And later still, to laugh together until our bellies hurt, and whisper stories to each other in the dark, and marvel at her kindness. her generosity. her capacity to love.

Now that I am standing here on these rocks, it is more breathtaking than I could have imagined. Newborns are everything they're cracked up to be. And now, the way my first baby girl smooths back my second baby girl's hair and wipes her tears away with the edge of a sleeve is something to behold. Such tenderness. Such love.

But it is slippery. The rocks hard and cold. One poorly executed step and I am down. And there are many poorly executed steps because it really isn't until motherhood (and marriage, arguably) that life requires such ridiculous amounts of diligence. And there really isn't any training sufficient enough to prepare you for the new 25 hour days--none of which really belong to you anymore.

I turned 28 today. I cried about an hour into the day because my husband walked into the kitchen and asked how I was doing. It was 5:30. "I just want a happy day," I sobbed as my one-year-old sobbed over me. This child whose mind astounds me, who brings me book after book and never tires of them, who eagerly talks to anyone who will talk back, who hides behind the bathroom door waiting for someone to find her, who adores her sister, who gives the BEST open-mouthed kisses, who loves art almost as much as books, and animals almost as much as art. This child who screams every time her face is wiped, who kicks every time her diaper is changed, who gracefully flings her arched body onto the floor at the mere mention of a coat, who strongly objects when peeled from the top of the step ladder, who cries for some unidentifiable reason countless times a day.

I cried because, like hundreds of times before, I forgot that this isn't about me anymore.

So I stopped looking forward to the pancakes that needed flipping, the errands that needed running, the birthday that needed happy, and looked here. Now. To the baby that needed comforting. And when I finally looked down at the rock I was already standing on, I realized it was just perfect for sitting.

I turned the burner off, sank to the kitchen floor, and nursed my baby. She was happy. I was happy. I was having a happy birthday.


  1. Hugs to you (and to Violet). For my 28th I got kicked in the nose by a recently displaced only-child-turned-big-sister. Glad you found the happy in your day. :)

  2. YOu are such an incredible woman and writer....i've found myself quite reflective as my 28th birthday is quickly approaching as well. It's the hardest and most incredible thing that it's not about us anymore, because it is about our children and oh my goodness....they are OUR CHILDREN....I was so fooling myself before becoming a mother, thinking I knew what love was. Happy Birthday beautiful mommy!