Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Away from my girls for 3 and 1/2 days...

and they learn to say 'NO' without me. these milestones feel strange as you pass beneath and thru them, crossing a bridge you will never cross again and looking out over whatever body of whichever waters you happen to be crossing at the time and wondering what new eras this slight shift shall usher in. As the little epochs between the large advances grow further and further apart I think the parents begin to regain bits$ of themselves, their inate tendencies towards change and growth getting a bit of breathing room back, our own personal advances having been slown down by the sped-up hyper evolution of our children. Whew! More on this later...

Heather tells me to read Redefining Our Relationships by Wendy O-Matik but my mother beats me to it and we have an interesting discussion about a book I've just picked up that she's read thoroughly and the generational gap between our two alternative beautiful worlds smacks it's chasm of a maw open and shut on our words and hearts and confusion reigns down from our cloudy, lofty, failed ambitions which, like intentions, are used to pave the road to hell.

Soon, no matter how many rocks may block the road, Stephanie and I will begin planning an iNFORMAL aNARCHIST pARENTING pARTY! sometime around spring equinox at our Hungry Hollow Farmhouse outside of Shelton, Washington. If anyone is interested in attending please contact me: sky.cosby (at) gmail.com - more on this to follow as develops.

I miss my ladies and their rapid changing growth. I wonder what new words they will know, what concepts they will dangle directly in front of me until I realize what it is they're doing. Scarleht was rubbing the tips of her thumb, index and middle finger together gently the other day with both hands and it took me about an hour to figure out what she was doing... she was sitting on my lap and started doing it near the computer and I realized she was mimicking the motions of Steph or my's hands on the touch-pad! Brilliant guilt followed this revelation but hey, they're gonna need to be computer literate, right? They might as well watch people who use a computer as a tool rather than for pure entertainment.

I leave for Shelton in 7 hours. My time here in Walla Walla is always packed and poorly absent of certain aspects of healing I wish it would provide, namely the absence of a few key peoples from my past and my own absent-minded forlornness. But the beat goes on, and so do we. Power to the Parents!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

There is a Tiger in My Tree

from The Tiny Revolution, Michael Blanford's excellent papa blog!

This morning has been a whirl-wind of grouchy adults, a grouchy baby, a small flood in the kitchen, a scramble to get some laundry and dishes done and a pile of dog vomit that included a pen cap, a rubber band, a plastic wrapper and two leaves. Despite all this, Atom and I are getting into our daily groove. He is doing great at night with few feedings and often 4 to 5 hours of continuous sleep but that leaves the day to be punctuated with hourly feeding, non-stop diaper changing and daily excursions to keep our sanity. We are starting to come to the realization that Atom is what the “experts” call a high-needs baby. I guess it is a great thing that he finds himself most comfortable in our arms but I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that it can really wear me down sometimes.

We have been doing some reading and have found some great ways to calm him down. Many of the methods come from Dr. Sears but I am also having some success with the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. Despite the cheesy name and some dubious claims, the book was recommended by our doula and a few other parents and I think has some real merit. I will talk a little more about it later. As for now, it is warming up outside and we need to get ready to take to the streets.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

introducing my ladies to old friends

funny how currents carry us. faces that are old to me are new to them for now, becoming old. part of me longs so much for that world I've left behind, to be back and in it now like bygone times. but my eyes are different, my hands, the soles of my feet.

i hold my daughters hands to fall asleep myself.

i wake into their dawn.

i be.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

harbored a sporadically volatile conversation...

with Steph ranging from insecurities to resentment to moving to purpose to place. Good to get some words out, mapping future good words. Still, it's hard to jack up a house in order to lay a foundation.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Addressing the almost over-powering yin of an abortion clinic waiting room while my partner gets a pap smear among other things...

from a male doctor for the first time.

The other man (a father?.. no) and I exchange a handful of eyes over the course of an hour and nearly a half and I want to shake his hand, speak openly and intimately here and now because he quite obviously seldom does and so do I and I think maybe here of all places would be a good place to start and maybe he feels something akin to that too and that’s why this is so awkward because we’ve never done it before or maybe he has but anyway we don’t and the rug is a hideously queasy pale blue and the curtains and cupboard doors are spackled and sponged a mix of teal and granite, very un-yin actually, and I think one of the plants may be real and Madonna of course looks nice atop the towers of shitty mothering magazines and it makes me really glad somewhere not very deep down at all and not really glad really that the date on the cheapo plasti-wood plaque from the better business bureau reads 2003 and the nurses here are so highly charged but somber, a mix of life and death and hope and loss and horror hovering over the place like a fog bank that you never really withdraw from but leave a little piece of yourself in for all the future patrons to perceive and when the nurse takes us in the back room and I try to wrap my mind around ’11 weeks’ while she says ‘less than a minute’ and I just blink, blink back confused tears or anger or a dust mote in the eyes of many gods and the blue rug and the mindless magazines we pore over anyways like ignorant savages must devour playboys, that strange hot cocktail of exceitement and revulsion that comes from being somewhere you’re not supposed to be but have to.

submitted by anonymous

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

there have been things i have done to destroy myself...

the thing i wanted most, was to be accepted, and loved, and to have a family. i have created those things, and every time i have settled into the life i created, i have done something destructive to destabilize my situation.
the thing that made the most sense to me, having my first daughter, destroyed my wife. her reaction to it, hating getting pregnant, destroyed me. my reaction to that, pulling away in a misguided attempt to protect myself, and my baby, destroyed her. her reaction to that , having an affair when my baby was months old, attempted to destroy our marriage. my reaction to her affair, shaming her for her choices, nearly destroyed her, and i am continuing to react to it. every time i turn to look, i have done something else to get back at her for her choice to look outside of our marriage for her intimacy. each time i fall in love with another of our friends, it destroys both of us further. i have not determined a way to stop that cycle. i have had limited success making real-world choices not to betray her. even when i choose not to see another friend, the inclination to self destruction sneaks up on me from behind, and i betray myself, and my family. in the moment, somehow i have a history of not seeing it happening, and each time, i continue my destructive path, justifying my actions with myself.
i feel like i am drowning in myself, with the weight of the world on my shoulders. i have made my choices, now years passed. the things i chose for myself are haunting me every day.
i am despirate for air, and i am not getting it.
i have been clouding my own judgement with pot-smoke in an attempt to look away from my accountability-for so long now, that i can't remember when i was in touch with myself.
when i am sober i suffer, and when i am stoned, i am blind to myself. i neglect my life, and the ones i love the most. i have walked away from all the things i have held the highest.
i am .... floundering.
submitted by anonymous

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Sitting alone on my deck, cigarette in hand, thinking about my journey through mamahood. From the first moment I realized my breasts were tender...

and felt undefined possibility pulsing through my body, I was hooked. I knew I was meant to be a mama.

submitted by anonymous

My period wasn't yet late and I was thinking of names, thinking how the hell to get out of the chaotic swirling mess of an abusive relationship I was in; thinking of how I could save my own girlchild from being raised a victim, how I could teach my boychild to solve problems without his fists. Already envisioning myself saved and reborn through the magic of birth. I had no idea that after the birth the work really began. Far from bestowing grace, birth is messy... it pushed me to the edge of strength, through terror and collapse and beyond death... into greater awareness: bigger lessons: harder work.

On that first night home, alone with a wailing newborn, exhausted from 18 hours of labor and 2 days without sleep, I was walking into walls and to this day I can't remember if I ever thought to nurse my babe. Maybe I did... maybe I knew just what to do... but that's not how I remember it. This was my initiation into motherhood: exhausted to the point of collapse, alone and inadequate: or so I thought... Now, after nearly ten years of mothering my three girls and myself, I know that I will never live up to the cultural vision I had of being the perfect mother and finally, I no longer care.

Now I know how complex the dance is: allowing trauma from my childhood to resurface, honored by my willingness to see, held like an infant in need of love; rocking myself gently, I find compassion and forgiveness for my parents, myself, my children. I accept the fact that I'm going to yell sometimes... that I often hear my voice and think my mother is in the room... I notice more when I am soft and nurturing: yielding to my girls' needs with grace...

As I reflect on my strength, weakness, failure and bliss I am curious about papas... how do our journeys mirror one another and where do they diverge? What unexpected gifts come when you are pushed to your limits and how do your limits differ from mine?

waiting for the plow

submitted by anonymous - if you think it would be appreciated, if not, enjoy it yourself - i wrote it right after XXXX and my separation, and it was a real healer, just thinking of it in terms of the wheel turning/natural transition.

outside, the snow flutters to the ground. crisp, frozen grass is poised for the cover. every warning has been given of inclement weather ahead. surprise is not my state of mind. inside my warm house, i am braced against the blustery cold. fall leaves, dry from the previous month, now frozen, crunch beneath the feet of visitors - come knocking to check, and cherish. well meaning company comes, and talk goes on for hours. when bundled feet leave the warmth, they bustle off through powdery fresh flakes. they are bound for other warm hearths. bulbs in the ground, now covered with dusty layers, harden off for spring blooms. unharvested onions, and garlic winter - ready to grow, and multiply when warmer air, and water comes. hot foods cook in a stove, stoked up high. a feast is laid, celebrating what was. preparations can be made for ritual. celebration-joyous pondering of things to come. practitioners set valuable intentions. speech, and prayer focused on living, and death. these are times spent waiting for the plow.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

lost in the social sea of downtown olympia

for a night, free from all responsibilities save those I cannot banish from the dark recesses of my partitioned brain. super bowl sunday. bob marley's birthday. i talk with steph on the phone, chatting about lyli and scarleht, rubbing a hangover from my haggard eyes. i miss her voice even though i should be used to this slightly random work schedule we have been moving through due to my self and alternative employments. but it gives me uninterrupted chunks of time to spend with my girls. Sometimes this blessing is a bit boxing but I try to find time between the chaos for myself. These moments of self-reflection become an ironing out of my latest emotional wrinkles whether they come in the form of a cigarette, splitting wood, a quick bike ride down to Pickering Passage to sit and think about the underside of bridges, toss rocks in the water and watch the Sound work her silent magics.

tomorrow lyli and scarleht and i will walk out to the mailbox, making the trek in just under 45 minutes and completely wiping them out before nap time. they are 20 months and 4 days old today and these past 2 years have been the hardest ones I have walked through to date, but also the most valuable in the sense of total sensory engagement and moral mental lessons in life, the boardgame you can't get bored of for long.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Most of our friends don't have babies and don't relate to Dylan very warmly.

I remember that before Dylan was born I was easily annoyed by the demands of friends' babies. I can see how couples with babies tend to socialize with each other almost exclusively. Still, I don't want to give up my relationships with friends who don't have kids. We'll have to work something out.

Being with Dylan gives me the chance to express my intuitive, feminine, yin self. It's easy for a man to always be in situations that call for aggressive, rational, manipulative perspectives and skills. With Dylan I move out of that more completely than I ever have before. The obvious importance of these new skills in relating to Dylan helps me respect and value them as they develop.

All in all, I now enjoy most of the time I spend with Dylan - taking care fo him, playing with him, watching him change and grow. He is one of the most important parts of my life. There are other important parts - my relationship with Susan, my work, being with other people. I don't want to give them up for Dylan, or him for them. I look for the balance, remembering that there is as much total space in my life as I have energy to keep clear.

excerpted from fatherjournal, by david steinberg

When Susan was pregnant, I imagined that writing and taking care of the baby would fit together well.

I figured that as long as I was home taking care of the baby I would do some writing as well. It seems incredible now that I could have so completely misunderstood what it would be like to have a baby.

I have resisted the shift from living on my schedule to living on Dylan's. I've tried to hold on to my old patterns, failed, and built up a lot of resentment in the process. After six months I think I'm finally letting go of my old life. The task is to build a new life that I like as well or better. One day, at the ocean, I cried while trying to say goodbye to a life that I loved and had worked hard to create.

Having a baby has brought an astounding amount of day-to-day work. A lot gets lost in the shuffle, like having time to sit and relax, time to talk about things that are hard to say, time to sort out feelings and become whole again. There are no more Sunday morning breakfasts in bed.

I wish now that I had prepared myself better for having a baby. I let myself get caught by surprise, and then felt resentful, as if I had been cheated out of something I couldn't quite define.

I'm not willing to be the second, somewhat foreign, parent. I tried that for a couple of days in a pique of frustration with Dylan. I felt distant and alienated from him almost immediately. It was horrible. Better to share responsibility for him, whatever the frustration.

Susan and I agree that we'll both work part-time and share taking care of Dylan. That way we'll both have outside lives and both be involved parents.

I still get an empty feeling when people ask me what I'm doing. Most of my energy in the last six months has focused on Dylan - on taking care of him and getting used to his being here. I carry enough man-work expectations in me that I feel uncomfortable using that to identify myself to people.

Having Dylan has made me feel confused, overwhelmed, uncertain - then bitter and resentful. The feeling of being up against something I can't handle, that is too much for me. So many things need to be done, so many emotional places need to be put together, and my energy outside of Dylan is so very, very low. Life has become complicated. I feel the jaws of middle-aged American mediocrity open wide.

Often my anger and frustration come out at Susan. It seems ridiculous to rage at Dylan, and I'm too defensive to blame myself.

I'm an only child, and I never babysat as a teenager. I knew nothing about babies when Dylan was born. My confidence in myself as a father was very shaky. I could hold myself together as long as everything went smoothly, but when something unusual happened I panicked. I got very depressed at my lack of intuitive baby sense.

Once I admitted all that to myself, and to Susan, I could face my weaknesses and work on them. I began to see that there were times when I was really good with Dylan, when I really did have good intuitive sense about relating to a baby.

excerpted without permission (so far) from Fatherjournal by David Steinberg, who went on to become a very interesting man, it seems. I will e-mail him tomorrow and ask him if it's okay if I put this on my site, but it's goin' up regardless.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

fatherjournal: five years of awakening to fatherhood

by david steinberg
times change press
my father (go figure) dug this little number up for me. just started reading it last night but so far so good. the book basically chronicles the first five years of david's relationship with his son Dylan as he attempts to subvert the dominant paradigm and be the dad america ignores. more to follow as i slowly read this powerful little text. oh, and if anyone knows what happened to times change press, I'm rather curious. They pumped out some amazing books and then dropped off the face of the planet.