When I worked at Touchstone Theatre, Ysaye M. Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock came to work on a community project, gathering songs and stories from the African American community in the area. She is an inspiration musically, communally, and personally.
I was just doing some research on creative additions to the Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) and came across a Kahlil Gibran poem that she put to music. It is beautiful, but more something I’d give myself rather than give my son.
I was struck more than anything on the cycles of life. How this lifecycle event (my child’s bris) put my memory back to my work at Touchstone and with Ysaye. I begin my official work writing a play tomorrow, January 1, to fulfill my obligations for the grant I received. I want to get The Reading Theater Project up and moving again, even if in baby steps. The religious school I run needs a lot of creative and leadership support right now. And I’m going to have a baby any day now.
I could use a little creative inspiration right now. I need to find my creative voice anew, as a mother, as a stay-at-home whatever I am, as an independent artist, as a leader.
If the inspiration comes from the memory of working with a brilliant African-American woman and her music, all the better I say. We are all connected, all the same, despite our differences.
Twas the night before Christmas…
And I’m relaxing in bed a bit. I already ate breakfast at 4am – I’ve been getting super hungry in the very early morning hours. Perhaps I am turning into a newborn before my new one is even born?!
I’m thinking about the word “twas” because so many things are turning into twas-es for me. On Monday, I went to my last yoga class for a while. On Tuesday, I taught my last Neighborhood Bridges class for a while. And one of these days, pretty soon now, I’ll have my last day as a pregnant woman. And my first day as a Bio-Mom.
I never thought I would have to specify Bio-Mom, but it turns out being a step-mom is really important to me. There are two children at my house right now, as they are half of their time, who count on me as a parent. Not their Mom, but another parent. Going from half time to full time, from step to step and bio, from kids to baby – we are all so excited for these changes. But we also don’t really know what to expect.
When David and I got married (our anniversary is tomorrow! Happy Christmas!), we spent a lot of time prepping the kids for the wedding and forgot to prep them for the rest of life together. We all got used to it eventually, pretty quickly actually, and we really feel like a family now. With the baby, we’ve been prepping them for life with a baby, not just the pregnancy and birth (don’t worry, they won’t be there for the birth…).
I think we are all as ready as we can be. But I think once he is born, we will, if even in a small way, miss our time together as 4, the way i’twas.
38 weeks and counting...
I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite blogs is Motherlode, written by Lisa Belkin for the New York Times. She always posts good stories or provocations. A recent one was from a blog called 22 Words:
1. Would you want to be your child?
2. If not, how much of the reason why is you?
1. Yes. Most of the time.
2. In the times that I wouldn’t: Of course the reason is me. What else could it be? But why wouldn’t I want to be my own child, that’s really the question. I see with my step kids that I’m not always the way I want to be (who is, right?). With them, if David is also around, it is easy to excuse myself to take a break to get back to myself.
But it will be different with my own child. For the first few months of his life, I won’t really be working; we will be home together all day. I’m delighted, so looking forward to this time. But I’m also concerned; I know I will have to be on all the time for him. With very little back up.
And of course I plan to do everything right (or as right as I can be), but you know. That’s not actually possible. So we’ll do the best we can and I’ll hope that he likes being my child.
I’ve fallen into a little LOST bubble. Netflix is streaming it. I don’t think I even like the show. But I can’t stop watching it.
It started because David watches something online that is too nerdy to explain. I love him. But I had to find something to watch while he was watching commentary on Starcraft. Netflix delivered up LOST.
I’m on Season 3. It is a very strange show. Everyone has warned me that they never tie up the plot lines, but every episode ends on a cliffhanger, so I have to start the next one. I just have to.
The real problem with it isn’t that I’m spending my time watching a show that isn’t that good. The problem is that I have a long list of other things I could/should be doing, but this is the choice I keep making.
I credit pregnancy and tiredness (from peeing all night, no baby keeping me up yet!). I can’t focus on reading and I’m too tired to tidy up for too long. Besides, I can watch and tidy…
Sometimes there is so much going on in my brain that I’m sure what to write on my blog. What is appropriate, what is interesting, what I feel like dealing with in written words.
I recently came across a prompt project: http://www.reverb10.com/
Each day they have a different reflecting-over-the-past-year prompt. Here is today’s, followed by my response.
December 15 – 5 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.
(Author: Patti Digh)
Five minutes to remember 2010. The biggest memory is getting pregnant and carrying little Raspberry around for much of the year. I remember telling different people, friends, family, co-workers. It is amazing how excited everyone gets when you start talking about a baby. I took a home pregnancy test one morning when David had already left for work. I took a photo of the positive response and showed it to him that night after we’d put the kids to bed.
36 weeks pregnant...
In 2010 my grandfather passed away, a sad reminder of the cyclical nature of life. He was ill and had been struggling. Luckily David and I went to see my grand parents in January, so we had spent some time with him when he was feeling pretty well. Never enough time.
With Grandpa and Grandma in January
Mentioning the midwest reminds me of the way I began 2010 – by totalling David’s car. We were driving from Chicago to Detroit (the WORST idea we’ve ever had in winter – and we are smart folks!). David suggested I drive a bit because the road was clear and there was no snow. After about 5 minutes of driving, the road suddenly covered in ice and we were the final car in a huge pile up. The tow truck driver took photos it was so many cars. We were completely shook up, we spent the night in a weird Ramada in Western Michigan, and the next day rented a car to drive to Detroit and then PA. David kindly did all the driving. And we agreed never to drive to the Midwest in winter again.
We are very lucky
And that’s 5 minutes of memories. It is interesting to see what comes up – life, death, fear.
Last year I made a 2009 photo album of our best photos from the year. It was mostly the kids, some of me and of David. I plan to do it every year, in part because it is nice to have a tangible memory, and I love looking through the hundreds of photos we take each year, remember everything from ice skating, to planting our garden, to swimming with cousins, to going back to school, to ice skating again.
This year will be full of such different memories. But I love looking back.
Posted in family, myself, pregnant
Tagged baby, children, connections, family, learning, love, personal, pregnancy, reflection, slow down
David and I have spent lots of time talking about baby names. We both have high standards and strong beliefs about names, which is why we are calling our child “The Raspberry” (at least for now).
I was baby-product-surfing and came across this:
Aidan is THE name for a baby boy. I don’t know any Aidan’s my age, but I can think of at least 4 Aidan’s who are under 7 (2 on our block). Nathan, my step son’s name, is also popular (our neighbor is also named Nathan, but we call him Big Nathan to our Little Nathan. One of the carpenters working on our kitchen has come to be called (just in our family, to differentiate him from the others) Huge Nathan.). As is Zoë, my step daughter.
So coming into pregnancy, David and I both had strong ideas about how to choose a name:
- The name could not start with a “G,” like Graham Graff or Gayle Graff. Sounds too much like a super-hero or comic book character (Lois Lane, Clark Kent).
- The name could not be too popular. No Aidans in our family.
- The name should be Jewish (which also leads to no Aidans). For both of us, this could be an Hebrew/Israeli name (Yael), a culturally Jewish but American name (Sheldon), or a Biblical or Historical Name (Akiva). This was particularly important to me, growing up as Vicki Haller, a not-at-all Jewish sounding name.
- The name should not rhyme with or reference any private body part or sexual practice. Remember the Seinfeld when Jerry was dating a girl who’s name rhymed with some female body part. He couldn’t remember the name, so maybe it was Celeste…Mulva…Delores!
- We both would like to honor someone in our family and/or someone who was important to us. In Judaism, you name a child for someone who has passed away. My Grandfather, Alexander, passed away this summer. We aren’t planning to name the baby Alexander, but the common practice is to take the first letter of his name (A) and choose a name from there.
I think we have chosen a name, but we aren’t talking about it publicly. We don’t want feedback on our choice. If the little Raspberry arrives and the name we have chosen doesn’t suit him, then we’ll keep thinking. He doesn’t officially need to be named until his Bris.
How popular is your name? Do you think it makes an impact on the person you have become? In the 80s (I was born in 1981), Vicki was the 750th most popular name. I think having a different (not unique, really, just different) name helped me differentiate myself from my peers and helped me become the person I am, one who wants to blend in, but not at the expense of myself.
David and I are spending Thanksgiving weekend in NY with his parents, and today we are going into the city to sing Georgian music at a workshop lead by Carl Linich of Kavkasia.
David introduced me to Georgian music (among other freaky types of music). My first response was, “I like Georgian Music. The Indigo Girls are my favorite!” David’s response was probably something like, “oh, I didn’t know the Indigo Girls sang Georgian Folk Music,” confusing me with his combination of sarcasm and sincerity.
The first Georgian song I learned, here sung by Carl and his sons:
We haven’t been singing in a while, and singing is getting more and more difficult as Raspberry pushes upward into my diaphragm and lungs. I have barely been able to keep up with my favorite Georgian duo, holding now-gasping sing-a-longs with the Indigo Girls.
I miss singing. It is hard to be sad or angry when you are singing (unless singing along with Alanis or Pink or something, which I don’t usually do). Singing in a group, whether during Shabbat services, Sacred Harp sing-a-longs, or choir practice, builds community effortlessly.
I’m excited to introduce Raspberry to Georgian Music. And everything else.
Wear Maternity Pants to eat Thanksgiving Dinner. Plenty of room to expand.
As the birth of Raspberry approaches, I find that his Bris (Brit Milah, ritual Circumcision) is not as easy and obvious as I thought.
For starters, will his brother and sister be able to come? They are young, but they are his family. And others of their family will be here. We don’t want them to miss it (though they’d obviously be in a different room than the actual event), but we cannot predict the date of the Bris.
Which made David suggest to have the Bris not on the 8th day, but on a convenient day. To which I, without even thinking, said, “No.”
And then I thought about it. Why is this commandment so important to me that it must be done just so, when there are many, many commandments I don’t follow at all.
So why do the Bris at all? Maybe we could have a Brit Shalom or Bris B’li Milah (meaning Covenant of Peace or Covenant Without Circumcision), which is a new adaptation of the traditional ceremony that involves the blessings but not the cutting.
I have both a positive and negative visceral response to this. I’ve been ingrained from a young age to believe in Jewish traditions and belonging to a Jewish community. I’ve also been ingrained to act thoughtfully and in peaceful ways.
I find myself rubbing up against my personal beliefs and community beliefs a lot lately. Part of it may be that I don’t really have a spiritual home here in Reading, neither with yoga nor Judaism. I’m working on finding or building them, but it isn’t easy in a small, conservative town. Part of it is certainly that as I get older I have to face more and more difficult decisions that affect not only me but my family. Being a bio-mom (because I am already a step-mom with its own set of responsibilities) is a huge responsibility and one that I am so looking forward to, but I can see already that so many decisions are not so easy to make.
In college, my friend Rob always called me a Gentleman because I hold doors for people. I didn’t think action of mine was so revolutionary. I just didn’t want to let doors slam on people behind me. Apparently, this intention makes me a gentleman.
I kept hearing from other pregnant women and those with small children (the carrying not walking kind) that people will hold doors and do other gentlemanly things when you are pregnant.
When I was 3 months pregnant and looked like I ate too much at lunch, I could understand why no one held doors for me. They were probably thinking “that woman could use some exercise” and were happy to give me the opportunity to hold the door for them.
Now that I am 8 months pregnant, clearly pregnant, and not looking like a pregnant teenager now that my skin has cleared up and my grey hairs are shining in the autumn sun, I was actually looking forward to people holding doors and offering to help me with things.
I am sad to report that Berks County is full of non-gentlemen. I have one friend who is a gentleman and will barely let me hold my own purse when we are together. He always holds doors. But he always did.
Everyone else still lets them slam.
Sigh. I suppose I’ll put this on the ever-growing “con” side of the Living in Berks County list.