10 August 2016

And I found that I can do it if I choose to -- I can stay awake and let the sorrows of the world tear me apart and then allow the joys to put me back together, different from before but whole once again.

- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

24 January 2016

where the light comes through.

Sometimes being a mom is hard work. And I guess being a single mom is harder. That’s what they say anyway. I got my wisdom tooth out nearly a week ago and it’s been pretty unbearable. And Harper has had a pretty killer tummy bug that combined with a chest cough yesterday – and vomiting – which was enough to land us in the emergency room. Poor baby. When that kind of stuff happens – mouth throbbing, baby puking on you and starting the day covered in shit – there are certainly parts of me that want to hand my whole life over to someone else for them to take care of. 

“Here! You take the baby to the hospital! You clean up the shit! You wash the puke off of her and yourself! I’m going to sleep.” 

That would be so nice. But, at the same time, I would not have wanted anyone else at that hospital with her. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had actually done that. And that’s the really sneaky difficult bit – as much as I want someone else to do it all, I wonder if what I really want is the space to vent, to complain, to have someone acknowledge that it’s hard work and I’m doing a great job, and that’s it -- then I will carry on with it. Sometimes I think that is all I am really searching for. I wonder if that is ridiculous, or if maybe that is valid and sometimes it is all that we need? Someone to look us in the eye and say “What you’re going through right now is so hard and you are doing so well in spite of that. It will be over soon, and then you can rest, but in the meantime, well done for being such a stellar mom.”


The trap, really, is trying to do it all perfectly. Trying to coast through life - motherhood - with a brave face despite all the hardship. The biggest trap of all is the fact that trying to do it that way only makes the cracks worse. It’s impossible to make everything look effortless, to pretend that there are no bad days, and the more I try to do that, the more I try to hide it from the world, from myself, the harder it is to keep it together, and then I snap. It’s like the pressure just gets to be too much and the pot boils over. 

So probably the answer is in letting the cracks show. I often think, in old buildings and trees, in the ancient African mountains around us, that it is the cracks that show the ability to stand the test of time, and I suppose we humans are no different. 

27 December 2015

thirty two tomorrow.

We spent the past five days in McGregor and it was perfect. The sky was clear blue and the days were long and lazy like a dream. It’s a tiny village in the mountains. We took walks around the neighbourhood every day so that Harper could greet the cows, roosters, rabbits and all the local dogs. We ate lazy breakfasts at Flora’s while Harper scribbled with crayon on paper table cloths. We sunbathed till we were drenched in sweat, and Harper spent hours pushing around her cheap dolly stroller from the local Spar with Samba, my thirty-year-old monkey, as her passenger. She splashed in an inflatable kiddie pool and floated beside us in the plunge pool with her water wings, shouting with joy at the cool water against her skin. It felt like family and was full of love.

We got back to Cape Town today and Harper went to stay with Andrew for the next few days. It feels like a piece of me is missing. Like a piece of my heart is in my throat. Tomorrow is my birthday and I will be thirty-two. I can say without a doubt that the best days of my life have been the 18 months since Harper came into this world. There is nothing better than her, nothing at all. It’s not to say that there is nothing else beautiful and good in my life – I’m a lucky woman, and I can easily say that there is plenty of joy and beauty in my life – but she is the best. She takes the cake. It is like she filled a hole that I never knew existed. A love I never knew I had inside me to feel or to give.

This past year has been pretty full of change and heartache. Loss of a marriage, loss of friends, lots of hardship at work, and some tumultuous times with my family. But blossoming at the center of it all has been deep, profound love. It is almost like Harper’s birth gave me a strength I never had before. I guess in a way something bigger to live for. A love more important than myself. I guess in a way it dispelled fear and replaced it with deep faith. Faith in life, and in love, and in the value of growth.

I am so grateful that she has given me the courage to be able to model for her the kind of woman I hope to inspire her to be. I am so grateful she will see what it looks like for her mom to be loved by a good man. To be supported and cared for. To have joy and laughter and affection. I am so grateful to be able to pass through hardship with some measure of grace. To be able to practice love and service and humility and gratitude in the best and worst of times. To do the right thing even when it’s hard, and to do the hard things with a soft heart.

I remember my birthday a year ago. Andrew, Harper and I ate dinner with my parents and my sister at a fancy restaurant at The Ace Hotel in New York City. I don’t even remember what Andrew got me. I don’t remember what his card said. But I do remember wishing we were as happy as the photos I posted on Instagram. I remember thinking that if I just wanted it badly enough, maybe it would come true. Maybe we would be happy again. Maybe the pictures would be real.

Since that day almost everything has changed, and truth be told, I feel more myself today than I did a year ago. Happier, more whole, more like the woman I am pretty sure God and the universe has always intended for me to be: mother to a beautiful daughter who lights up the very core of my being; the woman to a loving man who inspires me to be better every day; part of a joyful, honest, authentic, loving community of good people I call friends; and the best daughter and sister I know how to be.

This year on my birthday I will be in Cape Town. Harper will probably spend the day with Andrew. I will miss her, and send her so much love, and see her on Thursday. Being a single mom is hard, but like I said earlier, there is so much to be grateful for that I really should not waste time complaining. Worse things can happen than having a beautiful baby with lots of people who love her and a whole host of people to shower love on me on my birthday in a beautiful city at the tip of Africa, where the mountains meet the sea. 

**

I live a charmed life, I think
Even on the hard days now
When my mind races like a washing machine
(Going nowhere fast)
I am blessed with calm
In the middle of my being
A quiet of some kind

A quiet like the grasses in golden sunlight
A quiet like the company of love
Sleeping even, at peace with each other
A quiet like family, I think.