Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ten weeks

A big thank you to Rebecca for blogging in my absence over the past couple months!

Its been ten weeks since I had a baby and I think its fair to say life as I knew it has been turned on its head. There are of course the obvious changes: the day is now structured around the needs of a tiny, hungry, brand new person who doesn't care much for my to do list. I'm lucky if I can get one errand done in a day.

Time has slowed to a snail's pace when it comes to cooking and laundry, but its also flying by. Baby grows and changes at light speed. She's gone from 6 pounds 11 oz to almost 13 pounds in her short life, from seeing only a foot in front of her to being able to track me from across the room, and most remarkably gone from a distant, sleepy gaze to broad faced grins like these:

The grins are the best. They make my heart explode with happiness. I would do anything for them.

But the biggest change that first hit like a mac truck and has since been winding its way through my thoughts has to do with the way I think of myself. Like most artists and writers, I've always leaned pretty heavily on my work to define who I am. Its what makes me feel different and special and unique, the thing that I have to offer the world. Strangely that is shifting. Having a kid is perhaps the most commonplace thing a person can do. It doesn't make me different at all, if anything it makes me more like everyone else. But it feels so profoundly beautiful in all its commonness.

There is a quote from one of my new mom books that I love:

"A few weeks ago, my baby gave me a flower. Never mind that ... it was missing a few petals, or that he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to let it go. It was-and is-the most gorgeous flower ever given or received. Silver and gold wouldn't buy it from me ... These aren't just my hands anymore; they belong to a lineage of mothers a planet wide and millenia old. I was a woman on an April evening in a kitchen in my corner of the world, catching time between the pages of a baby book, and at the same time, I was my mother, her mother, a mother somewhere on another continent carefully tucking a flower into the pocket of her shirt, a flower you couldn't buy from her with silver or gold. We don't know each other, but all over the world and all through time, we're gathering up wilted flowers and misspelled love notes, and every single one of us knows the singular ache that's love and pride and sadness all mixed into one."

-The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Part of me feels sad that the life I had is gone- no more staying up all night to finish a painting or feverishly devoting every waking thought to a story idea. Now my time is scheduled and my job is to make the most of the time I have in front of the computer, when I have it. But I also feel deeply excited about this new life. Mother love is fierce and unending. As I find my way back into making books I do so with a wilted flower in my pocket.


Carol Hinz said...

Congrats! I'm also a new mom (and an editor) and one of the many exciting things is the fact that reading to my little one is helping me to see books in a new way. Reading aloud to my little boy is so much fun!

Libby Koponen said...

Oh, Anna! This explains what being a mother is in a way that nothing else I've ever read does. BEAUTIFULLY written and so you. And Wren's grin! Even before I started reading, there were tears in my eyes. I can't wait to meet her and see you....I wonder if you will seem different to us?

It's also so interesting that you define and think of yourself differently -- not relying on work for uniqueness sounds amazing, and I bet in a paradoxical way will make your work better.

I really enjoyed readinf this!

Beth said...

My son is three months old today. I feel like you got motherhood just right with this post. I wouldn't change my new role for anything, but I did go through a time where I mourned the loss of my old life. Now I realize that it hasn't been lost. I'm still a writer. But, I'm a mother first. Luckily, that provides so much inspiration! When I do get to sit down to write (while my son sleeps), I'm armed with more and better ideas. I'm even more productive because I know my time is limited. And I know that, by writing, I'm being a good example for my son. I'm working toward my dreams.

Anna Alter said...

Carol- I can't wait to read with Wren, like you said it will help me see books in a whole new way.

Thanks Libby!

Beth- Yes I can already see that keeping a schedule makes me more productive, no time for procrastination!

Marjorie said...

Many congratulations - such a gorgeous photo, such a gorgeous grin. And thank you for sharing your thoughts on a very special watershed in your life. My boys are 12 and 9 now and there aren't many flowers any more but it is an unforgettable feeling, those first, pudgy little fists being thrust at you, crushing a daisy, just for you.

Meghan McCarthy said...

Aw, look at that baby!