This week we closed the windows for the summer. There might come a day or two in the next five months when we can open them again, but for the most part, they will remain shut and locked while the A/C runs its little heart out and I wilt slowly away until the middle of October, when they can be flung open again.
In May, Merissa will be nine months old. Each morning her face looks a little more like an adorable toddler and less like a tiny baby, with her large, perfectly molded head, creamy skin, round cheeks and large eyes that move swiftly, full of intention, focused, taking in as much as possible before zeroing in an targets and then lunging toward them, damn the torpedoes.
When placed on the hardwood floor, she slowly turns in ever widening circles, viewing the kitchen from first this angle and then that one, but mostly being fascinated with the wood grain. She also moves slowly backward.
Her feet touch the floor when in her walker, and she propels herself backward when in that as well. She will appear slowly, in segments, from around the corner of the kitchen bar, one finger in the corner of her mouth, smiling hugely at this leisurely form of locomotion, and also at the fact that she has discovered my whereabouts.
One pearly tooth has emerged from her lower gums and it shows sometimes when she is grinning or laughing. This adds some indefinable something to her adorableness, which I thought could not be added to, until I saw this tooth.
I think right now is the most delicious stage, but I have thought that about every stage since she turned three months. Before that, my memory is vague with misery. I was anxious about everything- how much she was eating, sleeping, pooping. She was so helpless that I felt like I could never relax and just enjoy her, and not much of her personality showed through, though I could see glimpses of it.
Besides, I was so sleep deprived I could barely enjoy anything. I felt as if I were constantly short of something, not just sleep, but time and perception and ability and serenity. I was constantly running short and desperately wanting more of those things.
Recently, I realized I had still been living out of that feeling of scarcity- still feeling desperate for just some more of something- usually time. But it was more than just a loss of time, it was this feeling that there wasn't enough, period. I felt as if I was constantly scrambling, heckled by this persistent, vague anxiety, but I didn't understand it.
I don't remember how I made the connection, but a month or so ago, I reached a different and deeper acceptance that there is never going to be enough time. Children are quite effective teaching aids for this lesson. Time is constantly running out, running between my fingers and I can't hold on to it and I can't get it back. It just flows through. In accepting this, I feel much more at peace.
I think we live in a culture that doesn't want to let go of anything. It refuses to age, let alone die. Choices can never be diminished, they must be expanded! They must be bewildering in their variety. Everyone must be distracted, dazed by the overhead light of the store, by the rapidly flashing commercials rolling by in triumphant procession. Ability to purchase must expand, money can be printed over night, the future must be spent for the present.
Anyway. Lately, I've been consciously letting go of things. Not things, necessarily, but embracing the sense that I can't have or keep everything, and that is okay.
For example, I can be caught up in writing and my daughter can wake up, and I can be faced with the sudden realization that I have run out of time to write. So I let the thought that I was composing fall away. I might never be able to capture it in just the way that I was on the verge of, but that is increasingly okay with me. If it was something well thought out, it will come back to me. If not, probably I need to grow into it more.
I'm moving slowly from one moment to the next, putting down one thing, taking up the next. The things that I'm doing aren't important or visible to the outside world. I am not productive or efficient and my course is frequently altering depending on what I am asked to do in that moment.
But I generally feel so peaceful; much more peaceful than I ever felt before. I also feel an increasing sense of gratitude welling up in me, gratitude for just those things that I have. When I start to feel anxious or frustrated, I now realize that this is probably because I am trying to hold onto something that I need to let go of, or I am bracing for something anticipated in the future. Either way, I must let go in order to be peaceful in the present.
This morning, I stood still in the kitchen, breathing in the scent of Merissa's downy hair and letting that moment open up as it was- she with her tiny tooth, dimpled elbows, wearing her white onesie, slightly soiled at the neck with spilled formula. It is the most delicious stage, it was the most perfect moment, and I'm so grateful for it, even as it is passing me by.