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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life Abounding

Some pictures of our simple life - Chris, Dylan and me loving each other and laughing in bed; Dylan in his hybrid high chair (mostly good to have him beside us when we have supper); diapers bleaching on the line; Dylan's two fiercest loving grandmas; and a homemade jungle gym made of tent poles and dangling spoons and mason jar lids.
There are some cliches that folks feel compelled to repeat when you're pregnant, including, "Having a baby will change your whole life" and "You'll understand your own parents in a new way." Those who know me will know my stubborn streak, my sometimes shameful unwillingness to admit when maybe I didn't know everything.
I've thought about these cliches, how much they annoyed me when I was pregnant and yet how very true they've proven to be.
Life changes more than I can describe. Not because we're somehow weak or controlled by our children, but because the continual care of someone who needs you so completely can only be described as absorbing. And if you love them, which most parents do, then your own needs will always take a back seat. Check out all the parents of newborns who fail to shower or feed themselves while they cuddle their well-fed, freshly diapered children. I never knew, for instance, that when you're talking to a mom of a newborn, the chances are pretty good that you're talking to somehow who has been sleep deprived for months. How we manage to look like happy whole people is amazing.
The core of me is still the same. Still have the same values, the same likes and dislikes, the same passions and interests. But there is something more too and mostly it's humility at having the awesome responsibility of being a caregiver and that despite my best efforts, there are times when I am defeated by that responsibility. Plus of course the very logistics of caring for a small child.
As for understanding my own parents better, I think this extends to a completely new appreciation for family on the whole. My mom came to visit over March Break and I wished upon a star that the trip would go well. It was the best visit we've ever had, probably largely because there is so, so much to do and I am deeply appreciative for the extra pair of hands. More than that, though, I lay beside Chris one evening and we pondered how we are beginning to notice our parents age. My mom, it seems, isn't the 40-something woman I remember. And suddenly the finality of time takes on a whole new dimension. As I shared my thoughts with Chris, I started to cry for the shame of the wasted years of bickering, pettiness and fighting. Maybe too because I wish that Dylan has all of his grandparents around for a very, very long time. And because I want them there too, to share my own love of him with them. My mom always says that you can never brag to anyone about your kids but to your parents and this is one of the reasons she missed her mom so much when she died. I've heard her say this a million times andI don't think I ever really understood. Now I do.
And lastly, and perhaps dangerously personally, I never, ever understood how devastating it was to my parents when my eldest brother died. He was six years older than me, so much older and I was only a teenager. It was sad but I didn't get it. At 21 years, I thought he was old! Now I understand. Now I understand that the nights spent rocking Dylan to sleep, the giggles and gurgles, the firsts and the delights... I finally understand how were I to lose him, I feel I would lose a part of myself.
Yesterday I was flipping through a bunch of old pictures and sharing them with Chris. I came upon one of my two brothers and me nearing the end of Lauri's life when he was thin and very sick. Maybe for the first time, I saw that picture and understood the enormity of the loss and the sadness. I didn't before.
Phew. That's a whole lot. The blog is a funny thing as I try to avoid just simple updates on babyhood. Particularly as there is usually so much more going on just below the surface. Oddly I feel more comfortable with sharing the learnings than the poo stories. Though there are many of those too!
More later, Miia


Charles Gramlich said...

Great pics. I know what you mean in your discussion about your parents getting older. My mom is looking so frail. It's hard to think of he rin a different way but she has changed very much.

Julie said...

Beautiful. I actually got a lump in my throat reading this. The 3 of you are amazing.