Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Motherhood” Category

The day as it was {More than Just One Paragraph 23/30}

Posted on August 16, 2013

photo 5 (1) photo 1 (8)

I didn’t write last night because I came home and completely crashed: chills, swollen glands, headache. T wondered, “What about Lyme?” and so today I went and got blood drawn. I have nearly all the symptoms. But who knows? It could be anything, everything, my body on a collision course with the reality of moving, which we are in just four short days.

Bean came into bed this morning, his hair a shock of alarming curls, his grin sleepy and sweet. “How are you feeling, Mama?” he asked, spooning perfectly into my arms. And then he lay with me and we dozed and talked about things and imagined what the future will hold. He seemed to get it, my little aquarian kindred. That this is big, what we’re about to do. “It’s our last weekend here,” he said softly, nestling in.

Then came Sprout who has the heartiest of laughs. His dimples cause an uproar of delight in my heart. He bounces instead of snuggles. His sturdy little body burrowing for a second before he springs back up, and kisses my cheeks and nose and forehead and then dives off the bed to go play with matchbox cars.

photo 2 (8) boy and dog

T leaves for work. It’s my day with the boys. Bean and I linger in bed, imagining where we’ll explore downtown, what colors we’ll paint their room, how we’ll have friends nearby. Then, slowly we get up and while I’m untangling my hair and finding jeans he goes downstairs in underpants and a sweatshirt and starts making french toast. He’s got the first round frying by the time I head downstairs, and is perched on the stool by the espresso machine, teaching Sprout the steps. He pulls a perfect shot. “Iced or hot, Mama?” he asks.

We eat mounds of french toast and it’s perfect: eggy, with just a hint of vanilla and cream. Then, after unloading and loading the dishwasher and packing all the cookbooks that seem to have mounded themselves on the kitchen table, we head to the car with a lab slip for blood work.

Sprout watches the practitioner closely as she cinches my arm and draws blood. Unlike Bean who wants to know how everything works, Sprout wants to know if I’m okay. If it hurts. If I flinch. (I don’t, just for him.)

They took such good care of me all day.

On learning, right timing & finding directions when we need them: {More than Just One Paragraph 21/30}

Posted on August 13, 2013

On our way to his friend’s house this morning Bean asked if I knew the way.

“Not really,” I said. (I have this thing called an iPhone. It makes me navigationally lazy.)

“Don’t worry, mama. You don’t need to know the way. You can count on me. I’ll show you,” he said confidently.

It’s true of course. For more than driving directions. This boy is my teacher. This in-two-weeks-third-grader. This coltish legged boy with a missing-tooth grin. I’ve fallen in love with him all over again this summer. He’s just so tender and thoughtful lately. So full of a new awareness that everyone around him has emotions and thoughts and secret goals and dreams.

I often notice him watching me subtly: for a furrowed brow, or a lightness in my voice. He wants to know, “Are you happy mama?” It matters now, differently than it ever did before.

I can feel the importance of how I am in each moment with him now. The way it’s making something indelible. A blueprint of the emotional topography of woman.

It’s no small thing, this. Raising boys.


Sprout gets to be the only child at dinner tonight. We sit around the butcher block counter together eating soup with grilled bread and talk about numbers. We consider “How many, and then one more?” Then we make a game of writing the numbers out, each one with their own special characteristic–5 with it’s baseball cap, 3 with it’s two bouncy balls.

It might seem odd that I haven’t taught him numbers before: he’s 4.5, headed for preschool, and I’m a certified elementary teacher.

But the thing is: the meaning of the word “readiness” is debatable in my book. In the school system, readiness is knowing your numbers and letters so that you can be ready to learn mathematical operations, write sentences, and read about Spot and Jane. Then of course, those skills are learned, because they are readiness indicators for later academic skills, and so on, each skill set building to the next level until … what? We reach the end of school, and have a bunch of skills that prepared us for more school. Hmmm. Is that really the goal?

If, instead you think about readiness from the standpoint of developmental capabilities, then things like learning numbers and letters and reading and writing are naturally, and almost inevitably a part of the process of learning to function meaningfully in the world. Academic skills are acquired when they’re needed and appropriate to problem solve and recognize patterns; to make connections and navigate complex social situations; to make order from chaos, and chaos from order. Learning is about understanding the process of innovation and excavation; leading and following, taking note and being of note.

And at the end of the day, if children are submerged in a culture of learning, with real, tangible opportunities to make meaning of their world, then things like numbers–both knowing them, and writing them–are easily acquired when they’re most appropriate.

Like now. Sprout’s just ready. He’s known how to count to 10 and farther for a year or so (although he gets creative in the teens.) And he knows how to do simple calculations: 7 and one more is 8; if there are two cookies and four of us, we’ll have to break each in half to make fair shares. He even knows how to write the number 4–which is the most important number to him, of course, since that’s his age. But tonight when I teach him how to write the other digits, I wish you could his chortles of delight!

With each new number, he lets out the most triumphant laugh when he masters it. Pure gusto! Complete ease. And in ten minutes he knows and is using all the digits easily. Right timing. They’re useful to him now.

Of course, it’s way more just this, and has everything to do with a household where learning happens all the time. A house that is literary rich, and scientifically minded. A house where T and I both engage our kids in problem solving while doing real-world tasks rewiring an outlet, making quiche, filling the gas tank, calculating change for the parking meter, programming a website, or mapping directions. (And we’re blessed with kids who are typically functioning and healthy, which makes everything simpler without a doubt.)

But I’ve been thinking lately about the rush that we have as a culture–to get ahead. To prepare. To be productive above all else; at the front of the pack, and ahead of schedule–and how that affects me as a creative (often leaving me exhausted). And then I’ve been wondering if it’s not something we’re tacitly teaching our children, instead of showing hem that real learning means exploration and going at your own pace, prototyping and practicing and narratively mapping meaning. For that’s how children are hardwired–to learn: iteratively, intuitively, and instinctively from real-world experience.

But if we dialed it back just a we bit and rested into the truth of this:

“Don’t worry, mama. You don’t need to know the way. You can count on me. I’ll show you.”

I think they’d turn out just fine.


More than fine, actually.

The hitch of course is kids {More than one Paragraph 16/30}

Posted on August 6, 2013

airborne

running

I was so intrigued by the comments in yesterday’s post about shifting towards a morning habit. About writing then, and soaking up the world as the new day unfurls.

But here’s the thing that I can’t seem to get around–even though I want very much to go to bed earlier for all the reasons I mentioned in several recent posts… But the hitch is kids. Their existence in my world makes morning finite. There is no pushing on, if I’m in the groove. No additional hours that can be spent, past midnight if necessary if a project demands more time, or a story is taking me places.

When the kids wake up, they arrive: giggling, yelling, whining, squealing. They want things: snuggles, underpants, clean socks, cereal. They need things: undivided attention, clean laundry, reminders, mediation, affection. The hours hurtle on. Even if I awoke at 3am, I’d only have 3 hours until 6 when they typically wake, and 3am doesn’t look nearly as interesting from the vantage point of waking up, as it does from the perspective of going to sleep, if you know what I mean. Nearly every parent I’ve talked to has said something about the “freedom” that night affords: the opportunity to exist with one’s thoughts uninterrupted. And that is entirely what I love about the night: that it affords carrying on. Uninterrupted.

Earlier today Austin Kleon tweeted that this poem should be featured prominently on every creative’s refrigerator. I think he’s right. And I wonder, is my problem simply that I’m aiming for all three?

Is the plight of the modern creative that because we have such boundless abundance, we believe we are boundless? Our modern world offers so many choices, opportunities, options, mediums, encounters, tools, that in turn we tell ourselves we can do anything, be anything, all at once. I for one, fall for this story time and again. But time isn’t fooled. And morning, wise and new, knows better too.

So, how to shift night to morning with kids. How then? Is there some middle ground, some secret strategy? Tell me, tell me.

The asynchronous art of motherhood and craft

Posted on May 12, 2013

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The door opens and closes. One boy and then the other come in, perch on my lap, and accept my ample kisses on their warm necks. I wrap them in my arms, hold them close, and then gently nudge one and then the other out of my studio. This is my hour. The one I’ve sacrificed sleep for, waking before dawn to come reluctantly to page while the birds lift up the corners of the sky in song.

When they were small, it wasn’t like this. I couldn’t just shoo them out and shut the door. Their needs came before mine for years; milk and comfort, laundry and the full-body demands of little ones, arms always reaching up. Hours felt spliced into impossible fractions. Half-hour nap times were never long enough. Everything took three times as long to finish. Leaving and arriving were forever activities requiring sheer force of will and extra bags: wipes, snacks for the road, diapers, extra socks. And it all felt so terribly permanent: the way the edges of my self had blurred; my identity smudged with motherhood. The way time always seemed to come up short, as though there was an accounting: a reconciling of unequal equations. Motherhood vs. livelihood. Guilt and craft and love and art.

Now though, at 8 and 4, my boys have their own perimeters. And though their lives are still in orbit with mine, we have our own trajectories. They’re becoming their own selves. They dress in the morning of their accord; pour cereal, ride bikes, and running wild in the yard. And when they come to my studio in the morning now, they go without question when I ask—understanding that part of what I do is a magic that happens only when I sit alone in a circle of lamplight, fingers moving across the keys.

They scoot off my lap, and pull the door closed. Their voices carry down the hall with the thump of their bare feet.



Somehow I had babies ahead of nearly everyone in my life, and so I’m again on the flip side, watching as many of my dear friends (and sisters) navigate the terrain new parenthood. They are sleep deprived, anxious, broken open, falling hard in love, inevitably remade by the small new person in their lives.

And even though I now have these two lanky-legged kids who spend hours doing their own thing without intervention (Bean reads street signs and technical manuals and builds complex circuits, and Sprout has suddenly started draw sky scrapers, and doing basic addition) I remember exactly how it felt then, when both of them were small.

I remember feeling like the equation would never reconcile. And like my art, and time, and leisure, and my barest truest sense of self had been exchanged for some other murky self defined by milk and moments of sweet heat and sobbing, blooming smiles, and the raw edge of desperation.


How I wish someone had taken me by the shoulders then and stared into my eyes and promised: It will all even out. Things kilter back to center gradually. And then you’ll be on the other side, looking back.

There is no way to talk of this without verging on cliché. They grow up so fast.

Of course I could have never really heard it then, and likely all I would have wanted was to punch anyone in the face who might have dared to say a thing like that out loud. I was in the weeds. The days an eternity of overwhelming hours. Milestones were marked in weeks. Years seemed like a forever of time when counted in diapers. Everything felt rarified: alone time especially. And time fo art most of all.

Jamie and I talked about this a few weeks ago, when she interviewed me for her Creative Living podcast. She asked me: What’s the greatest challenge that you face as a creative? The long and the short of my answer was about time. Finding it. Having enough of it. Balancing it. And how this looks like closing the door–and putting my work above them sometimes.

The thing about new parenthood in particular is that it’s a trick of time. It’s a fiction all of it’s own weaving. It makes you feel like all is lost and gained. Like you can never have it all, and like you have it all. Like you have given everything, and are everything with this other little person in your world. Like sacrifice is inevitable. Like who you were and who you are will never align with who you once thought you might become.

But, to all the new mamas reading, this is I want to tell you: There’s time enough.

To be a mother. And to be the creative, powerful, careerist that you are. To lean in, and also to lean out.


It isn’t a race. There is no finish line, other than the one that we cross when we leave our bodies behind. Sink into the moment and trust that the right time will find you again to do the work you love. To run the miles you crave. To make the art that makes your soul light up. To _______fill in the blank.

And I also want to tell you this: That in the instances or hour or days when you choose your work over your kids they’ll be just fine. You’re children do not need to be at the center of your world, to know that they are at the center of your heart. And when they see you do the magic of the work you love and come back with your own well filled, they will feel filled too. That’s a promise.


Navigating motherhood and a life of creative work has been like learning to swing: there’s a balance of movement that propel you away and then back towards the center of gravity that holds you here on this earth.

Off for some weekend adventures in NYC!

Posted on March 30, 2013

 
 
 
 
 
 
Weekend Adventure  by Christina Rosalie

Happy Saturday, friends!

We’re off on some weekend adventures, seeing family in NYC for a very brief slice of time–just today and tomorrow in fact. And even though my friend Dan asked, “Why are you driving 6 hours just to turn around and do it again?” there’s no explaining what spring fever does to a girl living at the end of a long dirt road with wanderlust in her bones this time of year. I miss the city with it’s non-stopness and hum of creative making, and I’m so excited to share a little glimpse of it with the boys. They’ve never been.

Bean wrote the Easter Bunny the dearest note yesterday– he was worried that he wouldn’t find them at the hotel in the city. The Easter Bunny confirmed he knows his way around the city, and is fond of elevators though, so I think we’ll be fine. Bean read the note carefully and asked me to read it to confirm, and then took the Easter Bunny for his word and started packing for the trip: an eclectic assortment of things including a Go Fish game, a magnetic locking spy kit, and a set of colored pencils.

The combination of practicality and pure magic that coexists in their minds right now is what I love most about their ages. They’re transportable, easily delighted, curious, sensitive, and more or less self sufficient. They are also always up for an adventure. All week long Sprout would ask, “Is it tomorrow yet?” Meaning, is it time to leave on our adventure yet?

So we’re off. I’ll likely take heaps of pictures over on Instagram, and probably post a few of my favorites here come Monday. If there are any places in the city that we absolutely shouldn’t pass up with kids–ours, and our twin almost 4 year old nephews, do leave a note.

xo,
Christina

There is no blueprint for being everything

Posted on August 2, 2012

I don’t realize how fast I’ve been twirling until I settle down with Sprout in his blue room for a nap. I don’t realize how far away I’ve been, until I am here, next to him, with his hand on my clavicle, and his damp hair pressed against my cheek.

I’m home so rarely now, it might be the truth to say that I hardly remember how it feels.

Like this.

Like the sound of his heartbeat and the oscillating fan moving air around his room. Like my body folding into the softness of his small twin bed. Like his hand tracing the lines of my jaw bone, eyebrows, nose.

I watch as the fan stirs the mobile of moon and stars I made when I was expecting him, and feel the way who I am becoming, and who I was then are poles apart. Now, I am made of twirling parts. A dervish, with a prayer of days. A hundred lists, the velocity of now hitting me with full force.

* * *

I keep looking for a blueprint for how to do this well: Being both. Being everything. Mama, writer, artist, strategist, creative, partner, lover.

The moments overlap, unfold, tilt. I write a list of of women I admire on a scrap of paper:

Georgia O’Keefe, Anais Nin, Adrienne Rich, Patti Smith, Isabelle Illende, Elizabeth Gilbert, Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Alice Munro, Joan Didion, Barbara Kingsolver, Twyla Tharp, Meryl Streep, Rebecca Makkai, Pam Houston, Anne Lamott, Danielle Laporte, Sabrina Ward Harrison, Brene Brown.

Then I realize less than half have children. The half that do rarely talk of it; of how their lives navigate worlds, and how they must feel a certain push-pull and heartache that comes the tug-of-war between self and children, self and world, self and lover/partner/spouse.

* * *

Is there a blueprint for this life?

Is it possible to be great, to be a Creative in the broadest sense, to live deeply into the world, and still create the measured tempo of home, the rhythm of domesticity, the moments of daily bread and wonder? Some days I think so. Other’s not. I fluctuate, and now is the season when I feel most restless, like the raccoons who wend their way through the summer heat and shoulder-high corn, looking for fat kernels of sweetness.

It’s fluctuation then,that remains my constant.

And this much is all I know: Everything, even this restlessness, and also the quiet stirring air in my son’s blue room, and his childhood too, is temporary.

* * *

Still, I want very much to know: who are women you admire who navigate the tenuous line between motherhood and creativity with grace and verve?