FEBRUARY 2, 2018 TWENTY TWO months old

All around you are spirits, child. They live in the earth, the water, the sky. If you listen, they will guide you.”

-Grandmother Willow

Life with Everett continues to color our days here at home with fun, laughs and the perfect amount frustration. He’s discovering how to climb and be cleverly mischievous, sneaking his little hands into everything possible. I’m learning the balance of when to yell and when to calmly correct him. When he doesn’t listen, sometimes raising my voice works, but most of the time I just scare him and then feel terrible. And it makes me upset and worked up. But it’s so easy to scream. I feel like you when I do it.

A small part of me likes that, like yes be tough like mom was. And then another part says, that’s not you and you don’t have to do everything just like her. 

What can I say–I’m learning.

When we took a walk a few days ago, he wanted to stop and play in the grass. After waiting there too long, I told him to let’s go! but he wouldn’t budge. I even tried walking away but he could’ve cared less. So I dragged him by his arm for a few forceful steps until he laid practically face down on the pavement in a temper tantrum. I forced him to stand and got him to walk by singing a song about what a big boy he was.

You’re a walking boy, yes yes yes, going home to see your bunny and eat snacks!

Singing silly felt like a win. Dragging him and yelling did not. But who knows what type of mother I’ll be when more kids come along.

Recently I moved my bunny upstairs (I know, you wouldn’t approve) because he’s just trapped downstairs in the dark basement all day, seeing or hearing no signs of life. It’s lonely and I feel bad for him. So now he’s around all of us, and Everett likes to blow him kisses and throw pieces of his leftover lunch through the cage. Yesterday it was potato latkes. Everett can’t leave the bunny alone, but I don’t blame him. It’s cute to see him love his animals so much.

I feel like I’m ready to burst through the seams of our house though, ready for warmer air and the ability to go outside for walks and playtime. It’s nice getting to relax, watch movies and eat–that’s honestly what our days revolve around now, but cabin fever is a real term for a stay at home mom in wintertime.

We are going out to eat tonight as a family and I’ve been thinking about it all week, like it’s the outing of a lifetime, because I get to leave for other reasons than Target or Trader Joe’s.

Everett’s favorite movie right now is Hercules. We’ve watched it too many times to count. I put it on for him the other day and actually snuck a shower in while he was cuddled on the couch with a blanket, sippy cup, and Clifford. I felt like an accomplished superwoman.

He also likes Pocahontas and spins and sings when the Indians do their chants around the fire. I know it’s a feminine movie, but I grew up watching all those classics, each having an important lesson. When she runs through the woods and sings about the rivers and the animals being her brothers, and that we are all connected to each other, in a circle that never ends, I repeat the stuck-in-my-head lyrics while wiping down the kitchen counter, feeling silly but remembering that you are never far, because even Pocahontas says so.

Recently Everett’s been getting up at 4:30 a.m. For awhile it was 5:30, which was acceptable because we were just used to it, but the time has gotten earlier and earlier until I woke up on Monday, mad and tired, cursing that this nonsense would stop. It was time for a “baby re-set” as aunt Sara calls it.

We never officially made the transition to one nap and I think that’s where some of the problem is rooting. Everything, including his bedtime, needs to be shifted later. Each day this week I’ve done an extra fifteen minutes.

Ideally, in a few weeks, he will be taking one nap from roughly 11-2. That would be a best case scenario. And bedtime would be around 6:30. My goal is to have him realistically adjusted by Valentine’s day, so hopefully when I check in with you around then, this mama is getting more things done during the day and more sleep in the mornings.

Speaking of mornings–I recently stopped the early 6 a.m. yoga class I teach on Wednesdays. Chris is going back to school for his masters and cannot go into work late anymore while he watches Everett. So I will have one class, on Sunday mornings, and something about that just feels right. It gives me more opportunity to practice on my own mat during the week, and it’s one less day of getting up hours before the sun.

And it’s great timing because I am in fact pregnant.

This second time around already feels so different than with Everett. When I found out I was pregnant with him, the thought of pregnancy filled every mental second. I read blogs and articles and books and was so excited to learn as much as I could about what was happening inside my body and what life would be like once the baby was out.

I still get all gooey every time I tell someone the new news, but keep forgetting about those two pink positive lines on my test. I remember when I want to have a beer and think, nope can’t do that for awhile. Or when I wonder why I’ve been so tired in the afternoons or why my mood is for once stable.

The pausing of my menstrual cycle is the best thing about being pregnant. I love it. Hormones are whacky while growing a human, but for me personally, it doesn’t compare to the ups and downs I feel during my moon cycle.

What’s a moon cycle? I can already see you rolling your eyes at me, but listen, I’m not weird here. I’ve been reading a lot about the moon and its connection to women’s menstrual cycles, trying in any way to understand why I’ve always been so influenced by my period. Because no one really talks about them. And you certainly never did. The only thing you ever told me about puberty was that you grow boobs.

We were at one of my horse riding lessons and my teacher joked, saying something like, “Oh you just wait until you hit puberty.” Not knowing what that word meant, I later asked and you gave that one simple answer. I think “back then” it wasn’t as normal to talk about our bodies as it is today.

My menstrual cycle has had so much control over me, I tried anti-depressants when Everett was eight or so months old. I didn’t know what else to do and figured since you’d been on that same medication before during certain times in your life, it was okay for me to be too.

But taking that medicine made me numb and everything flat-lined. It took away my anxiety, it took away my lowest lows, but it also took away my highest highs. After a month, I stopped, knowing I had control over my body and was determined to understand the power of being positive. It seemed like my only choice. And thus my journey of understanding the Universe and thoughts and appreciation and all that stuff I bore you with was started.

In the cycles of nature, there are ebbs and flows within the seasons, the tides, and the waxing/waning of the moon. This mimics the cycle that is within women, the cycle that governs not only the flow of blood, but the flow of creativity and information. It’s instinctive and natural and connects us with something greater than ourselves. At least I believe so.

And our periods particularly mimic the moon phases, which is why women since the beginning of time have referred to it as “being on their moon.”

Between when my period starts and ovulation, I’m at my emotional best. This is my “highest highs” phase, when I sing in the car, believe I can write, and feel beautiful in my skin. I’m expressive, happy, have enthusiasm and new ideas–everything just feels good and balanced.

That lasts for about fourteen days and then comes ovulation. This is where the luteal phase begins, a phase I hated for all my teenage years and young adult life. Ever since I started my cycle, I never understood why I felt so different for half of the month. I didn’t understand why I felt emotional about everything, why I questioned my decisions, etc. This was always when I missed you the most, the times I’d lay in bed buried under the covers and cry until there was nothing left to empty out.

I’d judge myself and feel lazy and unproductive. My body would bloom a little fuller, especially in my chest and belly, and every month, I always thought I was just getting “fat.” So I’d eat less and exercise more, doing exactly the opposite of what my body needed most: rest and nourishment. For half of the month, I hated my body and how it made me feel. If I would indulge into my natural cravings, I’d throw the food right up.

A lot of past problems stemmed from not understanding my body.

But during this luteal phase, instead of hating myself and wondering why I’m crazy, it’s my time to reflect and go inward. It’s my time for me, to sleep and eat more, journal and stay home–not feel like a piece of shit. This is hard, especially as a mother, but it has forced me to be more kind to myself and not feel selfish for taking a small nap on the days Chris gets home from work early.

What’s amazing about all of this is that the moon phase goes in a circle of 29.5 days, the average length of a woman’s menstrual cycle. And the phases of the moon mirror what happens inside our bodies during ovulation. It’s even been scientifically proven that during a full moon (representing a ripe and ready egg in our uterus), women are more fertile.

I don’t fully understand it all, but that’s not the point–I truly believe I’m supposed to feel the highs and lows and work with the monthly cycle within my body, not against it.

These are ideals I want to teach my girls (if I have any, of course–Chris is convinced we’ll have all boys). I was educated on periods in middle school, but with the undertone of ew that’s so gross and don’t ever have sex or you’ll get pregnant and die. There was no connection of the physical body and the emotional side. And if there ever was, it was somehow all boiled down into the worst combination of three letters: PMS.

I don’t need my kids to pretend they’re Pocahontas and sleep outside to sync up their periods with the actual moon.

But I will explain to them why they feel a little crazy during that luteal phase, after ovulation. I will teach them how to track their cycles, even if they have irregular periods or what not. I don’t want them taking a birth control pill to “control” the most natural thing about them.

I know. I can hear you saying, but they’ll get pregnant! Would you want that for your teenage daughter? 

Even though you weren’t alive by the time I started having sex, I can tell you now that I never relied on birth control. I tried it a few times, hoping it would regulate my moods, but never liked how it made me feel. So I learned to track my cycle, become aware of when I was fertile, and always used protection.

And knowing your rhythms makes getting pregnant a bit easier. Boo-ya!

I’m proud of all I’m learning. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I know it probably all sounds strange to talk about my period so openly, but I wish someone would’ve normalized it when I was younger.

I really feel as if I got pregnant at the right time. As my body is creating life within, I can continue to create this writing into a reality. It’s a beautiful comparison if you think about it. My August goal for a book deal suddenly seems to make sense–it will be a few months before this baby is due. And we have three separate friends getting married this fall. The baby will be guaranteed out by the time Jessie has her wedding in Maryland, and I keep picturing myself with my long hair, healed red lipstick lips, and a baby on my boob, drinking a Blue Moon on my best friend’s big day. Talk about goals.

Thank you for where I am. Thank you for the timing of my life. Thank you for the sudden clarity I feel in my mind, as my body begins to take on a new form, creating our second child. I can’t wait to see what’s to come and for the first time in a long time, I am entirely hopeful.

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