2023

Others Call It Living

I turned the corner west, towards the mountains, and took a deep breath as the winter sun tried to stay awake, barely past five. With white capped ridges in the distance, I turned the car to crunch over the layers of snow, fallen over the last few days. I parked, and with the door closing behind me, walked into a warm house where my baby had been cared for for the last six months. 

We’re transitioning her to a new place of care this week, and with yesterday’s last pick-up, I was feeling heavy. My feet shuffled reluctantly out of their home, and as baby’s carseat clicked into place, I told her that we just went through our first care transition with her. 

I’m not fearful for where she’s heading next; it’s sure to be delightful. However, the lingering weight came more from a place of longing for days I wished away. At three months old, I could barely care for her and myself. Since, she’s grown, and I’ve grown. 

I’m surprised how quickly this next chapter approached. We’re all bathing regularly now. Baby is almost ready to crawl. She’s moving into full time care outside of our home!

I, too, am crawling towards something new. 

As my birthday approached and I realized while yes, I am aging, so is my mother, and my in-laws, my husband, and my baby too. Marching towards the inevitable, some people call it. Others call it living.

This January has been cold. Hibernating looks different than last year. I find myself in bed earlier, with warm socks on my feet and hands tucked into sloppy sleeves of old sweatshirts. I float in flannel sheets, holding space for the new me that’s emerging. While Covid is still present, my panic around prevention has dissipated. Not all transitions need to be chaotic or fearful. 

I let the embers of awakening warm me.

To be in the middle now, with only one parental layer above me, and now a generation to care for below, brings a buoyancy of a different kind. This floating in the middle feels ladened with responsibility. Motherhood is teaching me to receive with grace, and to hold tightly to the people with whom I get to age.  I am caretaker now, in a different capacity, and I’m also learning to be cared for differently. 

I let the vacillating wishes of time to move faster mix with wishes of longing to grow. I wonder about what’s coming next, while staring in awe, at the little creature we’re responsible for as witness to how quickly things shift. 

We walked through another transition, yes, and I’ve found time to breathe before bed. Living. Beautiful, heartwarming things. 

Zebra Stripe Blinds

When I sit down at my home office for our daily work check in, the light comes through the blinds creating zebra stripes on my face. I try to move the laptop camera to remove the shadows, and still the sun dances through the gaps. While the team Zoom call is short, only fifteen minutes or so, I find myself quickly giving up on my attempts to create a steady flow of light on my reflection.

Searching for beauty feels these days feels a little bit like living through the blinds. Christmas and New Years passed in a blur. We spent time with family, juggled a baby and her gear between houses, and intentionally rested. Last week was only the first week back sending emails and coordinating, and I was quick to move towards overwhelm. On Sunday, during another failed nap time, I wept about all of the things my old-self would have accomplished. The shadows of shoulds seem to be drawing lines, keeping me from fresh morning light.

Yet still, I’ve been ruminating on the joys of baby being witness to the mundane. Piles of burp clothes and bottles in the sink feel less than glamorous. However, the noise makers on the floor mix with tiny socks and colorful books, reminding me of the gift of a child so many others long for. How quickly these days will pass. I want to be present for them when I can.

A friend recently shared how passing into a new year used to fill her with melancholy. The aches of what could have been and fears of what might be in the year ahead shaded an attitude of possibility and creativity. On December 31st, I wasn’t feeling sad for what could have happened in 2022. We packed in a lot of life in those 365 days. I did, however, feel a bit of dreadful wonder at what may be this year. There are many unknowns on a clean slate. I’m so good at filling blank pages with catastrophe.

Much like the mixing light on my face in the mornings, I want to approach 2023 with an openness rather than foreboding. I didn’t set a resolution. Instead I’ll be focusing on the mantra, “Uncertainty doesn’t mean bad things are going to happen.” I’ll hold space for the negative possibilities (Hello. My name is Katie and I’m prone to anxious and catastrophic thoughts). And I’ll also intentionally move to let more light in.

When responding to a birthday invitation I recently sent out, a friend shared, “Thank you so much for including me. One more step back to “normal.”  Feels fun and also weird, doesn’t it?” 

Choosing to live in the light is fun, and after the last few years, it is weird!

So here’s to more time in the ball pit my baby received for Christmas. More invitations for brunch. More connection. More reminders that hospitality and caring for one another may be more important than promotions or the next big project. Here’s to reviving the sourdough, playdates in the park, and hugs for our childcare providers. Here’s to redefining the possibilities in uncertainty and in the handholding when things feel shaky.

Here’s to the continued search for beautiful things and the reminder that letting in the light, despite the shadows that may come, is a beautiful thing.