I am finally the mother I always knew I would be.
It’s a gorgeous Memorial Day here in Seattle. I’m out with Moxie enjoying the sun and live music at The Folklife Festival. She’s asleep in the stroller, unfettered by the music. Earlier we danced together to a brass band. I held her high in the air and we smiled at one another, eyes locked, hearts melting.
I am deeply in love with her. Something clicked a little over a month ago. I imagine it’s a combination of things — I’m getting more sleep; she’s developing her personality; and, we have fun together. Maybe it’s the way she wraps her arms around my neck and smears wet open mouthed kisses on my face. 7 months into this experience, I’m owning myself as mother — fully capable and completely amazed by the little human I call my child.
As I dive further into motherhood I am choosing to gentle with myself, to slow down and breathe, and to acknowledge the healing journey I’ve been on since my first pregnancy ended in stillbirth. I am learning to put down the heavy weight of perfectionism. I am getting clear how habitual ways of thinking— all or nothing, win or lose, perfect or failure — limit possibility. I’m seeing that I am enough, more than enough. It feels really good.
These beautiful realizations and powerful commitments are the unfolding of my heart. I was so focused on staying healthy and managing anxiety during my pregnancy with Moxie that I didn’t spend much time mentally preparing for her arrival. I was incredibly guarded. I hardly gave myself permission to imagine what it would actually be like to be a mommy.
To honor my transformation, I’m writing as a daily practice. With a baby to care for I have less free time than ever, so I write in fits and starts. Sometimes the words flow effortlessly and I’m inspired. Other times I feel immense grief, tremendous gratitude and fierce longing— all in the same breath.
As I put down the need to be perfect or prove myself, I am learning how to be with my thoughts and emotions — the ebb and flow of life. In the rest of this post, I’m going to share a few “journal entries” from earlier this month. From my heart to yours…
Everything changes the moment you become a mother. I am blessed to carry on the experience of motherhood with my daughter Moxie. We are best buddies. My first daughter, Poppy, passed away just before she was born. I have a relationship with her too. Lately, my heart has been feeling the agony of my loss more intensely.
Before Moxie, I didn’t know what I was missing. I could only guess. Now I know and knowing has my heart breaking all over again. It’s a strange thing, grief. Just when I think I’m beyond it, another wave comes.
Moxie’s cold is wearing her down and she isn’t sleeping very well. She woke up early this morning and by 7:45 she was rubbing her eyes again. I picked her up from her play mat and nestled her into my robe. It was nice to have her sweet arms and legs touching my bare chest and belly. We rested for 2 hours on the glider together, her head on my heart just beneath my chin.
It was one of those moments I didn’t want to forget so I imprinted it on my mind. The warmth emanating from the top of her head, her silky soft hair, the sweet grunts and sniffles as her body got heavier and heavier in my arms. I cuddled her with every ounce of my being and we both drifted off to sleep.
At one point the neighbor’s dogs started barking and she opened her eyes, picked up her head and bonked it back down on my breastbone — she was fast asleep again. I lost feeling in my butt cheeks and then my left arm started to tingle a little and still I held her. She woke up around 9:45am. I was waiting, loving her patiently.
We gazed into one another’s eyes for a few moments and then she started to squirm and wiggle. It was time to get up and get the day going. I’m so grateful for this morning. I don’t like that Moxie has a cold, but I don’t mind the extra cuddles that I got because of it.
I walked with my dog Wilson in the woods at Seward Park today. He was adorable, running up the trail a bit, turning around with a smile on his face and looking back to me for cues that he could run ahead again. He’s got an incredible spirit.
We adopted Wilson after our daughter Poppy died. Her death left a massive hole in the hearts of my husband and me, and we adopted Wilson to help us heal. He rescued us in our time of need.
Sometimes it pangs my heart to think that Wilson wouldn’t be in our family if Poppy were alive. Today, on the trail, I stopped to tell him how much he means to me. In my next breath I said out loud that I’m sorry Poppy isn’t with us too. Something stirred within me. She is here. I feel it. Although she is not present in an obvious, physical form, she is still here.
The responsibility to connect with her energy is mine. I have the ability to open myself up to possibility or shut myself down. I get to choose. It isn’t always easy.
It’s May in Seattle and poppy flowers are blooming all over town. Nature reveals her to us over and over again. In her own mystical way, my daughter reminds me that love is ever present and that death is an illusion.
You know the sound a chickadee makes: “fee-bee” “fee-bee”. I was just outside on my morning walk with Wilson and Moxie and I heard a chickadee calling. As it sang out all I could hear was “Pop-py” “Pop-py”.
My grief surprises me. As I walked along I cried quietly to myself, tears streaming down my cheeks as Wilson sniffed and Moxie snored sweetly on my chest. My heart rejoices with my blessings and yet it is still so sad that Poppy isn’t here for me to hold.
The sky was blue and peppered with clouds. The air was sweet and cool. We were surrounded by flowers — lilac, iris, tulip, calendula, rhododendron, rose, and of course, Poppy.
I’m grateful we named you Poppy and that I think of you when I see your flower. Other times I resent it and wish I could forget. You are a gift and a burden. You are light and darkness. You are my joy and my sorrow.
You are a manifestation of the Divine who came to be with me. You are with me still. My spirit child. There is no time limit on when I must be done with my grief. I give myself all the time I need.
By allowing myself to feel the depth of sadness, the energy moves through and out of me. It is an amazing and challenging journey to wake up to myself and all that is longing to transform. By loving myself through this process I am honoring all that I am.
As I continue on my path of healing, I am committed to self-love and acceptance. There is no end destination. Each day is another opportunity to show up, forgive, and grow.