Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Want To Tell You

Hey Jude,

Yesterday I picked you up from daycare and you were cherishing a corn on the cob in your little fist. On the walk home, you would take a few steps and then stop to take a bite, fitting your lips around that big corn cob. You would point to it and say your version of corn. You are saying so many words these days. Last week you began repeating after me, almost everything I said, trying out the words on your tongue, wrapping your tiny lips around them, pushing the sound through your itty bitty teeth. I want to tell you that your voice makes my heart soar. When you say my name, you speak me into being over and over. I come alive when you call me.

Last night on the playground, for some reason you needed a hug. And I scooped your so-small body up into my arms and you kissed me right on the lips. Then you held my face in your hands and leaned back to look right at me and smiled and gave me a few more deliberate kisses. When you hug me, you always pat my shoulder so softly. I want to tell you that your sweetness makes my head light and my knees wobbly. I feel like those kisses go right to the center of me and touch the place where I keep my realest self.

The other day your dad and I were cleaning underneath the playmat we have for you in the living room. We took apart the mat and wiped down each piece of it before puzzling it back together. And when I set those pieces down, I noticed how many had pen marks scrawled on them. I started to say something to your dad about how I wished you hadn’t written on them. But I stopped myself short because it’s just a playmat and I love that you love to hold pens. I treasure up those moments of you bent over paper, intently scrawling away with a seriousness around your eyes and your mouth. I want to tell you that your pen marks reminded me to write these words, to capture these things that are so soon to change. I hope your obsession with pens and pencils continues. Some people get to see themselves in their children, but you are a perfect combination of your parents, Jude. I can’t find my face in yours. But I find myself in that pen in your hand, sweet scribbler.

I’m breathing deep because you are well into your 18th month and I am enchanted with you. I have so many things to say, but they don’t come out in sentences and paragraphs. They well up inside me and burst into innumerable bits of joy that fill my eyes so often these days when you run toward me, when you offer me some of your snack, or when you plop yourself down in my lap after handing me yet another book for us to read. So many things to tell you, baby, but as the George wrote and the Beatles sang,

I want to tell you
My head is filled with things to say
When you're here
All those words, they seem to slip away

Words can’t capture you. But I will continue to try, because I too, find myself so often with pen in hand, hunched over a piece of paper, scribbling away.
All my lovin,

My little lefty!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Hard Day's Night

Hey Jude,

This morning you got up too early. So instead of taking you to daycare at 9, as usual, you fell asleep and slept until around 10:30. When you woke up, you wailed from your bed. Your dad and I walked into your room to find you still lying on your back with sleep still circling your eyes. You reached for me and I picked you up.

This is not unusual. I pick you up out of your bed anywhere from 3 to 7 times every night. But this morning when I picked you up, you were so warm and still fuzzy with sleep. You put your hands on either side of my face, looked in my eyes and kissed me right on the mouth. It was a gentle kiss, but a good kiss. And then, you kissed me again. And again. And again. Oh Jude! It was a simple moment, you wrapped in my arms, looking at me between kisses with those big eyes, your fingers finding my cheeks, wandering behind my neck and back again. You even spared a few of those kisses for your dad, who leaned in to get some of that sweetness. Your little sighs as you kissed me over and over awed the mother in me. Those sounds drove me to gratitude, my insides unconscious of any boundaries, just like when you drive your car down my leg and across Bo's poor tail and up the side of the fridge. My thankfulness soared, without limit, right into the core of who I am. The weight of you in my arms, the way your legs dangled around my waist, your lips halfway open fitted onto mine- this moment of affection rearranged the closet of my love for you. It knocked out a few walls, which I didn't even believe existed. It keeps getting bigger, baby, this place I keep within me full of you.

Jude, I am thrilled with who you are becoming. Your Korean name, EoJin ( 어진) means kind and gentle. I'm in wonder of the way you bear this name so well. You fully embodied your name this morning when you held me so softly and kissed me as many times as you felt I needed kissing.

And how did you know I needed kissing, Jude? How did your tiny heart sense that mine had a slight chill? Did you hear me early this morning at 3:30 after I'd just put you back down at 2 saying, "This is not my life. This cannot be my life," as I peeled myself out from under the covers to rescue you from the misery that sleep seems to be for you these days? Did you somehow figure out that although you apparently don't need very many consecutive hours of sleep, I need a good deal of it and haven't had any since you were born?

Jude, I know those kisses weren't apologies, but I took them and buried them deep in my heart so that tonight and the next night and the night after that I can dig them out and look at them and remind my knees what gratitude feels like when I'm up at 1:30 and 2 and again at 4 and when you finally wake up for good at some ridiculous hour, like 5:30am, like this morning. And I will pray for mid-morning naps that conclude in precious hugs and heart-rending kisses, tearing holes in a space that is never big enough for the wonder of who you are.

But I will also pray for sleep. Mr. 14-months-old-who-needs-sleep-ain't-nobody-got-time-for-that. But until that day comes, until you learn to give yourself fully to the dark quiet of closed eyes and still body, I will cherish these Hard Day's Nights. Because, Jude,

"It's been a Hard Day's Night
I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you
I find the things that you do,
they make me feel alright.
When I'm home, everything seems to be right,
When I'm home, feeling you holding me tight."

Your kisses will get me through a thousand Hard Day's Nights, baby. When I'm home, and you're holding me tight, everything is right. Everything is right.

All my Lovin',

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I've Just Seen a Face

Hey Jude,

Oh my darling boy.

These days, when you catch your own face in the mirror, you could not be more thrilled. Lately, you've even begun crawling right up to the mirror and putting your face so close to it that your forehead meets its reflection. You stare into your own eyes trying to figure out exactly who this beautiful boy must be.

The Beatles sang, "I've just seen a face, I can't forget the time or place where we've just met," and you have this same enthusiasm when you see yourself. Every time is like the first time. It never gets old.

I hope you never lose this way of looking at yourself, of seeing who you are. When you stand in front of yourself, I want you to be unable to control that sweet grin. And I always want you to be honest with yourself whenever your forehead meets the mirror.

Sometimes, Jude, when people look in the mirror (your Momma included) we make a list of all the things that have gone wrong. The skin around our eyes has begun to wrinkle; those hips have grown too wide; our tummies have developed a pillow-top; will these breasts ever face anywhere other than down? Then there is the critical gaze turned inward. Why can't I be the best version of myself? Why can't I get it right? How many times am
I going to mess up? How could anyone love me?

This grown-up mirror is a lie, baby. It is warped by our insecurities and our worries and our inability to love ourselves with grace. For some reason, most of us are better at extending that to others than to ourselves. This dishonest mirror has too much power. We have given it the ability to determine what is of worth, when the valuable things here can rarely be seen with our eyes.

We forget that YOUR mirror is the truth. The one that you greet with an open-mouthed wonder at what you see. Every centimeter of you is exactly as it should be, from the adorable shape of your nostrils to the gentle curve of your tiny bow-legs.

I want to teach you how to love this amazing body your soul is housed in. I want to show you how to delight in the way your body moves through time and space like no one else's. I want you to understand how precious it is and how you can use it to let others know they are precious, too. Most of all, I want you to realize that it's not good for anything unless it's used to express love, kindness, mercy, and gentleness.

Our society spends all its time shouting about how the mirror doesn't matter, but everyone goes home and sits in front of it and rips holes in their self-worth because of what they see there.

There is a time and place for honest self-criticism. That time and place is never in front of a mirror. It is a quiet time, so you can hear your heart's deepest wishes and determine which are right and good. It is a dark place, so you can see the embers of important hopes or dreams that need to be kindled, and the glowing ashes of bitterness or hate that need to be put out.

I want your looking glass to remain just that: a glass you look into for a few seconds each day to remember how gorgeous you are. A cool place you can rest your forehead against, stare into your eyes, and remember who you are.

You are Jude. You are loved. You are my son. And you are so much more than what you see.

All my lovin,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It Won't Be Long

Hey Jude,

It's been a long while since I've written to you, but we have been so busy living and growing and figuring each other out.

I am still teaching three days a week. It used to be a welcome break, for my brain and my body. I get to spend four or five hours thinking about things other than washing diapers, making baby food, trying to read a book during naps, or how big you've gotten. But now, I find myself wondering what you could be doing while I'm gone. And I love coming home. Coming home is my favorite. At the beginning of August, you reached for me for the first time when I came home from work a little late one evening. You were waiting outside in front of the house for me in your grandmother's arms, and when you saw me you started swimming towards me. It is one of my most treasured moments as a mother. Now when you hear me coming in the door, you start kicking and looking around for me. I love the way you greet me with a smile so big your face can hardly hold it. You put your tiny hands on my face and just stare at me. After a few minutes of sweet hugs and face-patting, you begin burying your head in my chest and patting my boobs. So I take you into the bedroom, just you and me, and nurse you. It's the sweetest moment of my workday.

You still love spending time with your grandmother, but she says you've started looking for me now. If you wake up from a nap and don't find my face, she says you whimper and sometimes cry a little bit. I would never wish for you to be upset, or to cry, but it makes me heart jump up when I hear you are missing me. I imagine that when you are old enough to talk and sing, we will teach you the lyrics of the Beatles song, It Won't Be Long. Then you can pass the time singing,

Since you left me, I'm so alone. Now you're coming, you're coming on home. I'll be good like I know I should. You're coming home, you're coming home.

I'm always coming home for you, my sweet boy. And I'll always be ready to welcome you home, no matter where you wander or how long you've been away. That's one of the things I want to give to you that your Lovie and GrandBob gave to me- a place I will always belong, a hug I can always fall into, a lap I can always cry on, and a bed I can always curl up in. But most of all, they offered and still offer me a love that never expires, a place I can come back to, a place that centers me, where I can remember who I am.

I will do nothing less for you, Jude. And baby, when you come home, I will hold your darling face in my hands, stare into your eyes, and hope that you know this love I have for you will always be carving out a home for you no matter where in the world we are.

But for now, I am cherishing up these short-lived moments of reunion between us. It won't be long. It won't be long before you're the one leaving and I'm the one waiting for you to come home.

All my lovin,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jealous Guy

Hey Jude,

You are now a whopping five months old and I am a whopping five months wiser. Your fourth month was a struggle for both of us, and as much as I strive to treasure every moment with you, it's better we leave Month Four alone for a while. At least until the healing balm of laughter can be applied to it. And usually, the ability to laugh at oneself comes with time and distance. I will give Month Four both.

The thrill your smile gives me these days cannot be described. I don't have anything to compare to the unadulterated joy that rises up from the center of my being and travels up only to present itself to the outside world in high-pitched nonsense squeals and other unintelligible sounds and maniacal dances.

The problem I'm having is that you're not so discriminatory when it comes to handing out the precious gems of your smile. You will charm most anyone who pays you attention. You also have a growing fan base at church, the school your dad and I work at, in the neighborhood where we take walks, and a number of anonymous sidewalk admirers. But you smile most often and most unreservedly for your grandmother. You search the room for her when you hear her voice. Your face just lights up whenever she calls your name. You are developing a close and beautiful relationship with her. You are so loved.

And I am so jealous. Sometimes I worry you might think she is your mom. Sometimes I worry I'm relying too much on her help to make it through the day. Sometimes I worry you enjoy your time with her the most and you only truly relax when you're with her. Sometimes I worry your first word will be some version of 할머니 rather than Momma. Sometimes I worry you will want to spend your time with someone other than me.

Jude, you've murdered my shoulders and my back with your demand to be held most of the time and in a certain position all of the time. But I find myself taking you from other people just to hold you myself. Even though it's painful! Because I love the weight of you in my arms. I cherish the way your chin digs into my shoulder when you've finally given up and fallen asleep. I love your little dimpled fingers wrapped in my hair and around my arm. I love the way your long legs dangle down the front of my body with your feet bouncing around my waist. Most of all, I love it when you twist around and put your cheek to my cheek and just rest there. It breaks my back, Jude, but I love holding you and cuddling you. And these days, I'm loathe to share you.

I know this jealousy is ridiculous. I try to keep it under wraps most of the time and it is tempered by my gratitude towards the amazing people who are loving you and taking care of you and helping me be a better mother. But I want you to love me best. And baby, I'm doing my best to deserve it.

Even so, "I'm just a jealous guy."

Your one and only,

Friday, June 15, 2012

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Hey Jude,

It's been a rough few weeks, a precious fleeting few weeks. And BOOM. You're four months old.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping.
You are starting to sleep longer in the early morning hours. We are still up at 5 most mornings, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a litte later. But now the sweet comma of your sleeping body curls up next to me for another hour or so. These sweet morning naps together turn into sweet morning giggles with your dad. I love watching you two together. It's a beautiful way to begin our long summer days together.

I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping.
I still haven't figured out how to accomplish ALL THE THINGS and give you everything you need as well. Most days, I have third-day-dry-shampooed hair in a ponytail and smell like sweat, milk, and not enough coffee. Sometimes I feel like other mothers have it all figured out; their schedules are working and they're able to check things off their to-do lists. I can't even gather my thoughts enough to make the to-do list. So I'm constantly forgetting things I need to do. (For example, typing this sentence just now, I remembered that your dad has asked me to do the laundry because he has no underwear.) But you never let me forget for a minute how amazing it is to have you on my hip as I try to get the cat hair off the playmat, pour a glass of water, or send a text message with one hand.

I look at the world and I notice its turning.
Jude, you are growing so quickly. Yesterday, the very day you turned four months old, you reached out and touched my face for the first time. My heart broke and that moment was worth every unswept floor and unwritten word and this entire un-done life.
You've started babbling and cooing, and even laughing and squealing. Your legs are so long when I drape you across my body to nurse. And although I have more overwhelmed moments and freak outs and break downs than I'd like to admit, you manage to redeem every single day with a smile or a beautiful nap that reminds me this is so momentary. So what if I'm unravelled and I've lost my entire life to you for the last four months? The world will continue to spin, I'll blink, and you'll be a dorky ten-year-old kid with a dumb bowl cut who can't stop talking about Star Wars.

With every mistake we must surely be learning.
Last week I learned how truly connected we are. I started to worry a bit about your eating. Then that bit turned into full-blown panic, which in turn made you want to eat even less. I cried. I came apart over the fear that my breastfeeding days were over. You're a boy, so I'm not sure you'll ever quite understand it's importance to me. (Heck, I'm not sure if I even understand why I feel so desperately threatened when I think about weaning you before a year's time.) But it is important to me. And so I begged, and prayed, and sobbed, and stressed. Finally, I gave up. I said to myself, "If this is it, this is it. At least I did this for four months." After those words ran through my mind, you decided to nurse for an entire hour. You calmed down, stopped squirming, seemed content afterwards. And so I had to admit to the Internet and my family that "you guys, it was me." I was being one of those insane helicoptering mothers, waving her arms about frantically, trying to figure out what was wrong with her baby. All I needed to do was take a deep breath, trust myself, and let it go.

In this present moment, I'm scooping up all of this and burying it in the middle of myself. I'm rejoicing that I'm your mom! I'm rejoicing that you are exactly who you are and how you are! It's passing so quickly and so, still my guitar gently weeps.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I've Got A Feeling

Hey Jude,

Today you are 100 days old. In the week leading up to this day, any little corners of reserve I had left in my heart were completely given over to you. Yesterday your dad was holding you. You looked over at me and made this heart-melting noise. I just fell over onto the bed, collapsed with my hand over that pumping muscle, every cell shouting your name. Sometimes I can't even breathe you are so handsome.

I have these strange moments where I just want to eat you. I know that sounds crazy, but I want to hold you inside of me again, to fully encompass you. I have a similar feeling sometimes about your father. Sometimes I imagine our bodies aligning, head to head, toe to toe, and he would sink right down inside of my skin. Maybe then he could understand the tremendous thing that sits in the middle of me.

The center of me is full up. I thought it was filled to capacity before this week, but obviously there were some cracks and crannies that needed caulking. I was happy before you. Your father and I were adventure-makers, rolling around in the bliss we found in each other's company. So many nights I fell asleep imagining it couldn't get any better. Then, you arrived.

The past 100 days have been the hardest of my life. And of the most worth. Your smile turns time to gold, your small voice sings joy into these hours.

I've got a feeling you were made for me. And I've got a feeling this is only the beginning of my heart's swelling. This is why all the lost sleep doesn't matter. It must be why long lists of things left undone cease to devastate me. It has to be the reason I can't wait to pull you out of bed in the early morning when the light is still fuzzy through the window. I've got a feeling that what holds me together– this love for the man who continues to sharpen me and soften my rough edges, who is half of you, and this love for the little boy I did not expect and could not have prepared for– this love is taking up all my insides. There's simply no room for much else.
I didn't know I was looking for you, but here you are. The Beatles usually say it well, so I will let them.

"All these years I been wandering around
Wondering how come nobody told me
All that I've been looking for was
Somebody who looks like you."

The past 100 days have honeyed my insides. And I've got a feeling that the next 100 days will be just as sweet.

All my loving,