Mothering an infant is very much like a walking, wandering meditation. I was just writing this to a friend of mine, a fellow meditator, who had asked me how motherhood was going. I wrote this to him: “You may be one of the only people I know who will truly get this but I’ve never experienced the “Present Now” like this.” Part of it is the simple explanation: deep sleep deprivation is a dream state. I walk through the minutes of the day slowly, cautious of imbalance and blurred vision. I stay focused on my feet. It is, so why fight it. I’m sleep deprived, once again, and so I feel off balance. I can’t nap well, there’s no point in complaining, so I’m leaning into the haze. I’m under water. I notice my breathing, I notice my ‘noticing’. Which is a meditation. It really is the most present to the “right now” that I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Huck is in his 4 month ‘sleep regression’ stage, which means, we are back to him waking up a lot during the night. He was sleeping through the night and we were celebrating with long, luxurious full nights of sleep. Then: boom! It ended. And, since J is back to work, that means I’m the one to get all the middle-of-the-night shifts. I get about 2-3 hours of sleep at a time, and even that is shallow, as I’m back to the listening for danger. I’m a lioness guarding the perimeter. I never fall into REM sleep; I never really wake up. I hear the house breathing. This morning I listened to the first bird at 5am, felt the sun peek through our window blinds. My eyes closed, I listened for the cars, the morning waking itself in our neighborhood. I heard my dog whine. My son started to rock a bit in his bassinet. The creaking of crib linens against the mesh sides. His legs and arms convulsing and slapping the bed. His waking rhythms. My husband’s soft snores. The buzz of the air conditioner. The whoosh of the ceiling fan. A creak, a stir, a breathing.
Sleep deprivation is a welcome vacation from my critic. She’s quietest when I’m like this. I wander in rhyme and melody, I hear music and see colors, I read books and read deeper, feel the shivering of the poetry on my skin. I let my own thoughts spill out on paper and here on this laptop without a thought about what is right or wrong, even grammatically. I just transcribe the flow. It’s a lava melt of vulnerability, this state. I can cry over everything and not hold on too tightly to anything. I can cry for my own supposed irrelevancy while feeling rapturous delight in my own new song. I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me, how I look, what I’m wearing, if I’m successful, where I am on the food chain of my career. I’m comfortable in this meditation. It feels like I’ve tripped into a truth center that’s always been here. I can honestly admit how much I like myself right now. Plain and dramatic all at once.
Time folds in. I have no thought of tomorrow and I can’t remember what I did yesterday (honestly) so I’m exist only in these little time slots of feeding/diaper changing/napping. Like 2 hour increments of 24 hours. The days go by so slowly. The nights are a challenge. And so I stay focused. Really really focused. On him. On me. On my family. And on where my feet are planted. And because of that, in these little 20 minute respites where i can check emails or write my blog or try to tackle a song, I feel like I’m at the peak of my creativity. Even just how I relate to reading or listening to things: words are spilling through me with multiple layers of meaning without me trying to understand anything at all. Mostly that makes me very, very content. Sometimes I realize I’m not writing any of this down, just letting the thoughts spill from one to the next, and then disappear into the coming hour.
Sometimes it kicks me in the ass. Or the ego. And I go into a dark zone of panic, of future tripping. Of money worries and career panics. I write myself post it notes. I keep spreadsheets. I check emails. I know I am not staying on top of anything.
Today, right now, Huck is lying in the pack and play on our screened in porch with the fan above him in the heat, napping so deeply I have to check on his breathing. And I’m in the kitchen where the screen doors are, watching him, just doing little tasks – laundry, responding to an email from an agent, reading a few pages of the novel or memoir in my stack of books I’m reading.
I am late for things. I make a plan to go to a class at my gym or to the library’s reading hour for infants. And I get involved in folding something carefully or watering all the plants or writing these sentences and the importance of leaving what I’m doing at this minute falls away and then I realize I’ll be late and decide it wasn’t that critical for me to make that pilates class anyway. I can swim later. Swimming is a meditation. Gliding through the water quietly like a seal for 25, 30, 40 minutes I count strokes. Like I count breaths. Time slows.
I’ve been told this time goes by so quickly. That before I know it, he’ll be walking, then going to school, then 18. I don’t believe them. Time has never been so intentional, each minute a universe, nothing happening, everything happening.