The Way He Walks

I don’t mean to be all dark clouds and dirty underneaths here at Apron Stringz. It’s not what I started out for. I was going to write a fun, punky DIY homemaking blog. Do happy things like document my worm bin and the line walked between it and motherhood.

But ever since becoming a mama, the ground has been shifting beneath me. I sometimes feel cheated, pissed that no one told me. How crazy hard it is. Not the specifics of it, but the balancing of it. The emotions of it. The submission of it, worn on my radical freak frame.

When I entered the blog world I was as moony as anyone else over the vicarious perfection of Other Peoples’ Lives, but after a few months the same disillusionment crept in.

I started writing about the tangled ball, the dark threads of mama. Not because I’m so very dark myself, but because darkness is so under-represented, and I do love to champion an underdog. To my surprise, each time I turned over some new ugly rock, comments poured in, reader numbers spiked. Posts about the worm bin went unread, because of course there are a thousand posts out there about worm bins.

C.S. Lewis said “We read to know we are not alone.” And nothing makes a person feel less alone than reading what they thought were there darkest most secret feelings, given voice by another soul.

And so I don’t regret what has become almost A Calling. But recently it occurred to me that by writing so much about the hard, tangly bits of motherhood, I’m giving just as warped a view as anyone else. If you read this blog, and don’t know me in person, I wonder what you must think. Do I go around in a rage all the time, swearing up a blue streak and throwing chairs?

In fact, I’m a very un-rageful person. Before I had kids, I hardly knew what rage was. Even now that I’ve discovered it, it’s not like I am consumed. I have also a shocking quantity of patience. Reserves I never conceived of. And that’s my whole point really, even the gentlest of us feel rage and that’s okay. Mothering is a test of how we deal with that rage.

One of the ways that I deal with it is to write about it here. I spill my darkest moments into the light of the internet partly to purge myself. Here is a safe space. No one gets hurt.

That’s all well and good. But I want to start sharing with you some of the goodnesses of my every day too. Because there is so much of it and leaving it out is a story half told. Even aside from the spiking bliss, the polarity of ecstasy to my darkness, I just a generally enjoy being a mama. It’s crazy hard, yes, but I am present with my kiddos for most of their waking life. I do understand how lucky I am. I get to watch them unfold into the people that they are, and there is nothing, nothing like it. A big, full bloom of succulent joy.

So today, I want to tell you about The Babe. Who’s hardly a babe anymore. He is in fact 19 months old. I too often compare him to his older sister since, opposite to most everyone else’s experience it seems, my second is not so very different than the first. But of course he is wholly his own. How very much his own he can be! In such a small sized bundle of cuddly pudge, such a completely full sized bundle of person-ness.

Often times when people talk about spirited children, “spirited” is code for difficult, or even for bad. I catch myself doing it, putting verbal quotations around the words I use for my kids. Yes, she’s very… “passionate.” Babies with opinions can be a challenge, there’s no doubt, and I can fall into the martyr role sometimes. But in truth I do really deep down adore their fiery independence busting through.

My Little Man is the second in line, no getting around it. And second to a real force of nature. But he holds his own, oh my does he. He busts through.

He has this walk. I guess maybe all toddlers do. He strides around like he owns the place. Belly first, full bore, the rest of his body bobbing back and forth to keep up. He is so eager to discover what lies in his kingdom.

I love his vivaciousness, his appetite for life. I love his fearlessness. Oh, of course he runs from big sounds like any one year old, but the tangled kind of fear I talked about in that last post he has not known. All possibilities are opened. His heart, clear. The world is his oyster.

I’ve often wondered at the cliché of “If only he could stay a baby forever!” These cliché people do not have babies like mine, to be sure. But more than that, from the moment of birth I have so looked forward to my babies’ growth. Not in an “I can’t wait till they get out of here so I can have my life back” kind of way, but in an “I can’t wait to see what sort of person he becomes” kind of way. Not that I don’t miss every little lost baby sweetness, I do. Who wouldn’t? But watching my babies become their very own grown up selves is incomparably worth it, worth anything.

I watch his eager, completely confident stride and see a kaleidoscope of him at every age. The rambunctious 5 year old, the outraged 17 year old, the footloose 23 year old, maybe even a papa someday, watching his own son stride around. He will grow into a man, all his own. He’s already on his way.

Look out world.

19 thoughts on “The Way He Walks

  1. It’s funny, I’ve entirely avoided writing about my children for the very reason you say you’ve moved away from worm bins. So many people have kidblogs. So many have gone through the poop explosions, the frustrating nights, the moments of regret and fear, that unbearable realisation you reach, at some point, that this isn’t actually going to get easier, or end, ever and that in fact you probably knew it all along.

    That’s not to say that each blog isn’t worthwhile in its own way. I enjoy yours. I enjoy it a lot more than Soulemama who just makes me feel inadequate HA! (my fault not hers). I do appreciate the ones that do speak to how hard it is, how sad it can be, not just the amazing crafts, trips, slings and meals other parents seem to produce on a daily basis. And I like that you see the need for both sides of the coin.

    To be honest I only love children inasmuch as i love people. Championing their rights. Learning to know them, their interests, their perspectives. I’ve never understood that blanket interest in them as an age group – just as I’m not particularly a fan of middle-aged adults. They just are. I don’t know if that makes sense.

    Anyway, I appreciate thispost. And I appreciate your homemaking posts. They are all valid – dark or light, kid or worm, and they are all useful for some or all of your audience.

  2. Oh I love that pic of him in his sweater! He’s just adorable!

    Great Blog. I already knew about the flip side of HARD. Anyone who’s been there knows it. But I’m glad you got to share it with us. The Beauty of raising your children.

    I remember watching my oldest son sleep when he was two and thinking I can’t wait to see what kind of man he turns out to be! And now he is a man. He’s still just as beautiful–but that clarity of pureness is gone. Hard to keep that as you age in this world. So I miss that.

    Reading your post made me a tad melancholy, remembering those years full of the simple wonder of life. Enjoy them CJ! (I know you do.)

  3. this was a welcome and timely read, thank you. My little one is nearly two and a half and this piece has the ring of truth!

  4. Hmm I rather think when you look back on these words when he is 17 you will smile wryly and think how cute and naive you were.
    So no-one told you about how hard it is….
    If I told you that morph at about age 12 and you are left confronting independance on steroids (AKA I know everything) you would nod your head knowingly. If I told you that at 15 they are so obnoxious and self centred (and it has nothing do with their upbringing-they all do it) that you want to eat your young, you would probably titter nervously and wonder if perhaps I wasn’t exaggerating. If I told you at 17 you are ready to pack their bags for them and leave them in a far away city (seriously) you would think I am the craziest Un-Mummy in the world.
    So that is why no-one tells you…no-one would believe you, but I’m sure its normal and biological. The species is supposed to grow up, become independant and move on and procreate some more. I think we mess them up with higher notions of childhood and the “teen years”.
    I used to remind mine regularly that in some countries by the time they were 9 they would have been on a hillside all day minding goats and supporting their own family and wife by 17! Yeah it fell on deaf ears too.
    So being a Mummy is not higher notions of pink iced cakes and kissing boos, it is hard work and it is only going to get harder but the one thing you want to bear in mind is i) everyone does it and there are no medals ii) the people who speak the least about how hard it is are those of the disabled (I don’t know wht, it is a phenomenon I have encountered)
    Having said all that I much rather read about real life, warts and all rather than pink icing and boo kissing. The “pushing through” piece of photography is a stunning piece of work and I hope you have it blown up and framed.

  5. CJ – I love the way you talk about parenting… I feel it too. It’s living with the internal conflict that no one can drive you bat shit crazy like your kids, and there’s no one you love more completely. It’s irony really… and it’s complex… and it’s really wonderful and really terrible, and, like you, I feel so lucky that I can be with my kids like I am… all day… every day… and I miss the oldest when she’s in school.

    I have a theory (as my kids are only 5 and 6) that parenting is always hard… what’s hard about it just changes over time. I’m curious how my future will unfold with my kids… it’s like a present all wrapped in fancy paper… and there’s NO telling what will be inside!

  6. I don’t think of you as someone full of rage, or only ever pissed off… but pretty much a reflection of myself. Mostly happy, getting by, grateful and blessed, passionate, sometimes-simply-exhausted mama, occasionally having a run of fabulous and joyous (and manic) days, and of course, having some real shitty, feel-bad-about-your-parenting days, and some feel-so-pissed-off-at-the-world, you-don’t-even-feel-bad-about-the-parenting moments. Your debriefing here helps you & your readers, just as my blog is & does for me… I def. get more comments and visitors to my ‘woe is me’ or my ‘ranting & raving’ blog posts, or even those I’ve titled in a suggestive way as that it may be a more dramatic blog post that day!! That’s life, though, and that’s blogging too!

  7. (Oh, and boy, is he a cutie!! We’ve got a 5 3/4 yr old ‘diva’ (mini me??) and then our little boy is 3, much less ‘sensitive’ than she ever was, but now quickly learning from big sister how to stomp, how to yell loudly, how to frown and all things tantrum-y… funny how it’s cute on him, maybe because we are older, wider and more worn out this time around!! But, they are ‘best fwiends’ and love each other so much…)

  8. “since becoming a mama, the ground has been shifting beneath me. I sometimes feel cheated, pissed that no one told me. How crazy hard it is. Not the specifics of it, but the balancing of it. The emotions of it. The submission of it, worn on my radical freak frame.”

    True for papa’s too.

  9. Keep writing about these moments. We all live them and like you said feel less alone when we read someone else talk about them so well. You write beautifully and clearly. Dont stop. I can see from your writing that you also have good times. Your humour and sense shines through!

    Parenting has also brought the emotions I never felt before – anger – frustrations to such deep levels I never knew existed. I HATE that part of parenting. BUt you know what – people can say all these things to you but we still would have become parents. It is like birth – you never understand it till you have done it…

    GOsh look at that georgous boy. We have a 22 mth so I can see similarities to my youngest and yours.

  10. Love it, as alway you speak my mind for me, only far more eloquently.

    I’m with wolffinch re loving kids…

    Tanya’s scaring me, I think I might send mine off to herd goats now!

    I don’t get so many hits for my big drama posts – most people love my floaty mothering/ love posts… and Radical Homemakers, boy was that popular!

  11. oh true – got to love a dark streak. I am also interested in the place of rage and guilt and all those darker less ‘ok’ emotions in motherhood. it’s all there – and just like holliwood romance – the books and the world tend to lead us to thinking that if we don’t do it the shiny way there is osmething wrong!

  12. I appreciate this beautiful post, and I also want to tell you that I love the dark, tangly stuff too! Motherhood is made up of beauty and difficulty, joy and misery. Too many are not about about both sides. I love that you can, and so beautifully.

    Liz

  13. I love your blog. I feel the same way about mothering too. I get those oh god it never ends weeks! But I also realize that even in my most inadequate moments that I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I am glad you are secure enough to post about not just the nice parts but the angry yelling ones too.

  14. Oh – so true. All of it. My friend just turned me on to your blog, and I don’t think I’ve ever read one that so spot on captures my experience as the mama of a young child. The darkness, the succulence, the rage, the marvel, the catharsis, the unbe-friggin’-lievable difficulty of the job we’re doing… I too have felt completely broadsided, betrayed, by the radical life shift, the untellable, unalterable, undoable-yet-I-do-it-anyway realities of parenting. And I only have one kiddo so far. :-) Thank you.

    1. welcome anna! i can tell you will feel right at home here. check out the reader’s favorites in the sidebar. if you have a lot of time, go through the calamity’s favorites, where i put all my better mind picking.

      1. I have a little time :-) and will probably go threm verrrry slowly. Thanks for the welcome!

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