I've been feeling a bit uninspired here. We've been trying to soak up the last weeks of summer by getting to the park every day before the rains return. Together we've been going through the motions of the days and weeks in between visits from family and friends and trips out of town. Somehow I've been neglecting the camera, neglecting my writing, neglecting myself, even.
Sometimes being a mother makes me feel so disconnected from myself. Spending days wrangling my reluctant child in and out of clothes and diapers, attempting to feed her through yet another hunger strike when nothing finds its way into her mouth and everything is thrown on the floor, going to and from outings, errands and activities, most of them involving cajoling, if not full on mommy-toddler wrestling matches. It's exhausting, as any mother knows. There are no lunch breaks as I squeeze work into the minutes that she actually naps. I breathe sighs of relief when she is finally down for the night, even as I know that we'll likely have to put her back down a couple times before we turn in ourselves, and then inevitably a couple more times before the 5:00 am wake up call. The day-in and day-out can kick your butt and kick it good. And it definitely leaves me feeling a disconnect from the self I'd always known, the me that has always needed down time, quiet time, alone time. But alas, there don't seem to be any real vacations for mothers.
Yet in the midst of feeling depleted and unmotivated, I had a wonderful moment of connection this weekend. A moment where the mama-me and the missing-in-action me seemed to coalesce and I felt so whole.
We were up on the Olympic Peninsula at a beautiful garden wedding. It was past Cora's bedtime and she was worn out from the day. Instead of packing her up and heading off to bed as we always do, we kept her out a bit longer. I wrapped her in the carrier as the dancing began. With Cora snuggled against my chest, I took off my shoes and danced in the grass. I barely felt the extra weight as I moved, clutching Cora's head against my chest and moving us both through the night air. We danced together until the party began to slow, when my quiet girl began her own little shimmy to mirror what I too was feeling. Neither of us were ready for our dance to come to an end.
And during those moments I felt so much like me. Me as myself, dancing out my own desires, yet with my girlie curled against me. The mama-me and the lost-me danced together. I was struck by such a pure knowing... a peace... where I didn't feel pushed and pulled by the needs of my child, but felt that rare feeling when her needs and my needs perfectly converged, pulling the pieces of me back together.
Later as I tucked Cora into the hotel bed, my heart ached with love for the little girl that has stolen my heart and re-written my life. I wished that I could hold onto that feeling as I navigate the moments that seem to make up my life and that feel like such hard work. I want so to not lose touch with myself as I devote my life to my child. I want to be able to find these moments when I need them, to find them in myself and share them with my girl. I want for her to see me as a whole person, not so much a harried mother going through the motions. As important as maintaining that connection is for me, it's just as important for her.
And so with that reminder and the memory of our sweet dance beneath the stars, I will hopefully start these days a little bit fresher. Maybe with a little more patience, and a little more forgiveness. And I hope to be able to hold onto it as we move through our days, for both our sakes.