Wednesday, December 25, 2013

the birth of a heart

the leaves in our bountifully wooded yard are clumping in bothersome, wet piles, resistant to all attempts of blowing and raking. loverboy is home for two days, going crazy because of all the yardwork-halting rain. the muncher is happily crawling everywhere willy nilly and we are stocking up on baby gates. and thanks to that 24-hour visit to the ER a few weeks ago and a recent bout of sickness, we've been hunkering down at home in true winter fashion. in other words, 'tis the season to be grateful.

i think maybe it's unfortunate that i can't think of happiness without sadness. i can't think of birth without death. maybe it's because, as they say – they are two sides of one coin. the bookends of what it is to be human. but it's really, i think, just because of my own history. and when you've spent so long miserably, bitterly wishing you could change—or just forget—your own history, it comes as a surprise, a shock, a wonder, to find that you do not want to miss another second of life. to find that you must open your eyes. open your heart. to find that you have a heart. that with the birth of your own child, you've birthed a new heart. or maybe it's your old heart, just reshaped: a mother's heart.

“Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” 
 Elizabeth Stone

it is frightening, it is wonderful.

the first week home with my baby i cried because it was going by too fast. because i knew that it was only the beginning of a lifetime with him, and that a lifetime would never be enough. i cried in anticipation of the bittersweet passing of babyhood into childhood and then adulthood. i could taste the pangs of missing his brand-newness already. i cried because i couldn't stop time, and oh, how i wanted to. i'd cried for the same reason in a completely different moment before, and maybe that is what informed this feeling. i knew the fragility, the ephemeralness of human life.

i have so much gratitude for this year. not just because motherhood is more magical than i ever could have imagined. not just because this baby of mine has a smile to light up the moon. not just because i get to spend all my days watching him pull himself up on our baby gates and stomp his little foot, determined to find a way over it, which will probably happen by tomorrow.

but also for this heart.

my response so long has been to stay busy. to stay ahead of it. to keep moving. and now i have to slow down. to get on eye level with the carpet. to crawl. to marvel over crinkly paper and the perfect shape of a button and the thwang of a doorstop and the taste of a table leg.

this heart walking around outside of me has been a salvation to me. teaching me again, to crawl, to see, to taste, to feel.

i cannot comprehend yet, the healing of this new heart. but i am so thankful, every day.


  1. I LOVE this post. Beautifully and perfectly captured! What an amazing year it's been - being forced to "stop and smell the roses" on many levels is really eye- and heart-opening.

  2. absolutely beautiful. i wish i could find the right words to express how this made me feel, how much i love it. sweet and wonderful and humbling all fall so short, though they're all wrapped up in the sentiment somehow. thanks for sharing this. love love love.

  3. thank you so much for writing this. you have the ability to put into words the incomprehensible feeling of motherhood. it's truly beautiful.

  4. All I wanted to say was: <3 <3 <3 <3

    But I'll also say, amen to Nicole's comment. And particularly, I've often felt the same thing Andrea said - so much of what you've written about your journey into motherhood is EXACTLY how I've felt time and time again. Particularly fretting often about wanting it all to slow down. Except I'm split both ways - constantly wanting a break and more time to myself (I've got 3 little ones), and constantly feeling the sadness that it's all going by WAY to fast. Anyway, thanks for writing. I always enjoy it.