When Bean was a newborn, I joined a group of mamas who met once a week at the house of a wise woman named Sasha. Sasha is a mother, doula, yoga instructor and local guru to newly hatched mummies and their babes. Each week, we were encouraged to sit in a circle and talk, and share one thing from the week that was sweet, and one thing that was sour. Inevitably, there were tears. We talked about birth stories, sleeplessness, breastfeeding, crying, and arguments with partners. In a way that only new mums can do, we discussed at length the minutiae of baby care. Nail clipping, cradle cap, diaper changes, and first foods all got a thorough going-over. Of course, there were some weeks that felt beyond challenging, but it was always helpful to remember that even in the worst times there is always a sweet moment or two. I continue to try to learn the value of this lesson every day.
This past week has felt both sweet and sour to me.
First, the sour. Being at home every day with a toddler provides its fair share of exasperating moments. I have been finding it hard of late to keep my temper with Gavin and not over-react when he insists on taking his shoes off every three seconds, or turning on the garden hose and drenching me and the patio, or refusing to eat a meal that he has just helped me make and insisted that he would eat beforehand. Preschoolers are savvy negotiators, and Gavin needs to have a five-minute conversation about everything before he will agree to do it.
Getting ready to go out in our house is a glacial agony that takes literally hours. This is partly due to an issue that I’ve mentally labelled, “Upstairs, Downstairs.” Because of Bean’s tendency to get into trouble the nanosecond my back is turned, I cannot leave him alone downstairs while I go up to get dressed, or vice versa. When I want to go up our long staircase, I have to spend ten minutes or so chivvying him towards the bottom of the stairs, (as he usually wants to be in the play area) and then encourage him on his slow progression up the mountain, as he stops on each step to tell me a story or sing me a song. Once we are finally at the top, I spend many long minutes chasing him around to get him and then myself dressed, and then begin the process of convincing him that going downstairs is now a good idea. When we finally reach the main floor again, woe to me if I’ve forgotten something upstairs that I want to run up and quickly get, because NO, Mama, I have to go with you!! usually results. On many occasions, leaving him downstairs has produced a long and tempestuous crying jag (on his part) that leaves both of us completely frazzled. I’ve learned now to distract him with some task before sneaking away to find whatever it is I need. I try not to make appointments to be anywhere before ten in the morning.
I have been debating for the last few months as to whether I should put Gavin in a preschool program this September. I had hoped to take action on this sooner, but the ups and downs of the past six weeks had left me undecided. Finally, last week, I decided that I need to try to move forward on this despite recent circumstances. There is a local program that is only two mornings a week, which would be ideal, but unfortunately, further investigation revealed that there is no space available at this school. Sigh. I am now looking into other programs.
Although the events of last winter are now quite a way in the past, I have been realizing lately how deeply scarring the whole experience was. Many things seem to have come full circle in the past month, as we passed our first D-Day anniversary. Looking back on the year, I cannot help but feel sadness for what was lost for Gavin, and for me, and for Craig. It’s very hard to think of what Beanie should have been doing those many months that he was trapped in isolation or tethered to an oxygen tank. And yet, in spite of what he has been through, he shines on.
I admit that things have been difficult of late, but I still want and need to express my gratitude for how very sweet many of our days have been. We spent the long Canada Day weekend at the cottage with my parents and Auntie Loz and Uncle Adam. We were gifted with perfect weather, and Bean was almost completely angelic all weekend. Craig and I took Gav strawberry picking at a local farm and out for lunch in town. We took the boat out in the late afternoon and my heart flip-flopped to see Gavin and his Auntie flying like birds in the bow. Craig tried to get Gavin swimming in the chilly lake, with hilarious results. We spent a lot of time at a nearby playground/beach, digging a hole in the sand and going down the slide countless times. It’s these small and beautiful pleasures that Gav was denied. No more. Now for a summer of sweet moments.