Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Many Bloggers Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

It's early in the morning. My kids are both still asleep, and the little guy that I'm watching full-time for March and April has just arrived. He grabs both remote controls, points them at the TV and says: music! every morning as soon as he gets here. I put a Common CD into the DVD player, turn on the TV and adjust the volume. He lets me choose the music, and I pick from the grown-up CDs on the top half of the shelf. I turned all the kiddie CDs over to my son after months of battling over scratches, and now they're all scratched beyond listening, but they belong to the kids, and I'm perfectly okay with that. It gives us an excuse to start the day with Common instead of The Wheels on the Bus. Little dude smiles at the start of the song and takes off into the train table corner. He likes to play independently when he arrives to a sleeping household. It's his only chance all day to be the boss of every toy! I pick up my laptop to start my story here.

I had been scrolling through facebook before little man arrived, and I clicked and opened the most recent post at The Not-Ever-Still Life. Robin wrote about taking up sewing, and a little bit about finally having the time and freedom to take up sewing now that her youngest is a toddler. Reminiscing about the start of her blog, and the name she chose, she wrote, "I was thinking of the whirlygig whirling dervish cyclone effect of it all, that there was always a baby to nurse or a diaper to change or two diapers to change and a milk to pour, or a diaper to change and a spill to clean and a hungry child screaming and a misplaced critical item and a mess just stepped in."

That description struck something inside me, as I read it. Like the peal of a bell. THAT's what I like about mothering -and teaching- young children. I LIKE the whirlygig, whirling dervish, cyclone effect of it all.

* * *

What's written above is as far as I got this morning, little dude playing peacefully with trains, before I heard my daughter wake up. We went to get her, and our busy day began. The housekeeper came back today, after a 2 week vacation that only served to remind me how very much I despise washing the floors. So I spent the first few hours of the day feeding the little ones and racing around, furiously tidying. We all got out of the house by 10am and went to a playground. We came home to a clean house (just in time to mess it up again!). I heated macaroni and meatballs for the little guy, stirred his daily medicine into his applesauce and served it. I heated gyro filling for my girl, topped it with tzatziki sauce, tore pita into pieces with my hands and set it out on the highchair tray for her. I bibbed them both, and filled sippy cups, and I asked my boy: are you sure you're not hungry yet, Bubs? about 3 times before I took his word for it. I hummed while I zipped here and there, kitchen to the dining room and back again, and then I diapered times two, and I lullaby-CD'd one, and I recliner-rocked the other, and then I had them down for nap.

So I was scrolling through facebook again, while my big boy played independently at the train table, and I clicked and opened the most recent post at Momastery. Glennon wrote about her need to write, and how her sister gifted her with a laptop that allowed her to do it. Thinking back to the early years of her children's lives, she wrote, "I know, because I hear from you regularly, that there are mamas out there that feel completely fulfilled and filled by mama-ing itty bitty ones. I used to be mad at you – and secretly believe you were lying – but I know better now. I’ve read so many of your stories that I realize you don’t feel this way just to spite me. It’s just that we’re all different, and that is a beautiful thing. It’s okay."

That's what it is! I thought. It DOES fill me up to do this work, and it fulfilled me long before I had babies of my own. Meeting with my college advisor, I told her I thought teaching was the field for me, and when she asked what age, I answered: the younger the better. That's the story of how I ended up studying early childhood education.

* * *

I think I tried to say it here, still home on maternity leave after the birth of my daughter, when I wrote, "...our day is both busy and mellow, ebbing and flowing from moment to moment. It's like a dance I have to perform. I know the basic steps but never the tune that will play from day to day. So I have to improvise. Sure, I trip sometimes, end up in a heap on the floor, both babies crying at the same time, one wailing and bobbing at the breast, the other climbing loudly onto my lap, competing for space and seemingly for volume with their sobs. But even this is part of the performance. Can I keep my cool? Can I breathe into my belly, straighten my spine, scoop my daughter to the side to make room for my son, spread my arms wide enough to embrace them both, set my voice to the most soothing of tones, and move us all from chaos to a carefully choreographed quiet?

When I do find the rhythm? When I manage to dance through the day with something resembling grace? To keep balanced both babies, my husband and my house and a small space for myself, just enough to catch my breath and stretch, to catch the beat and ready my feet for the next number?

It's exhilarating.

* * *

It's not just that it's exhilarating, or fulfilling, or that I simply like a little chaos in my day (although all of those are probably true). There's something in it -for me- that I think maybe other people find in prayer or in yoga, in meditation or in climbing mountains. There's a sense that I'm just a vessel, with grace flowing through me. That if I get out of the way and let it flow, nothing I do can be wrong. My feet won't stumble or step the wrong way. My arms will always be big enough. My voice will forever be calming and melodious. I can create calm out of chaos just by being. By suspending my own will, tossing it off to the side like the temporary cloak that it is, and letting this other thing take over and move through me, I become the calm. I carry it with me because it is me for that little while.

I find this center of perfect zen stillness in the hurricane's eye of unending needs that little children exhale like carbon dioxide, and then I counter their exhalations by breathing calm all over the place, and I watch it take over, taming everything in it's path. And I feel absolutely delighted that it traveled through me to get here.

That's the closest I come to finding God, and it's why instead of going to church, I care for young children.


  1. It's so worthwhile to get perspective on how other women experience motherhood. I envy the zen. I do not feel the zen. But I respect the zen.