“When they are a few months old, they lie and look around and wave and smile and undergo a constant gentle agitation, as though they were sea anemones, gently waving in some other element, delicately responding to currents we cannot feel.” – Margaret Drabble.
Baby H is not a newborn anymore.
She has already morphed into a one-and-a-half-month old. In baby days, that seems farrrr away from that of a Newborn. The itty bitty size NB onesies already seem small and when I look at old photos like this one from below, I am struck by how fragile she once was.
I love the delicateness of babies.
Of how they really stretch their bodies as far as they can go, which isn’t really very far. Of how their bodies stretch into a curly question mark after you lift them out of a car seat. Or how their legs and arms cycle, cycle, cycle. The above anemone quote and image of baby A here reminds me of the constant gentle motion.
When you have an infant in the house, it is easy to sometimes forget to take photos of the bigger ones. The bigger ones suddenly seem more giant like and savoring them becomes a feat when you have to deal with issues like homework, morning routine, and bathing because they lack that sweet newborn smell that reminds me of cocoa puffs.
With that in mind, I picked up my camera with the goal of photographing the older two. When I pick up my camera, I love the perspective it gives me. I love how raindrops freeze in motion, how vibrant the colors look from behind the lens, and how happy jumping 7-year-olds are suspended in mid air.
Z’s ice cream art
why can’t adults have nifty pockets like above?!
The air is thick and perspires with anticipation. It’s 5 am and I am checking in as 2 and hoping to leave 2 days later as 3.
This time around I tried not to post any obvious pictures these last 9 months. I used to blog more about personal matters and journeys such as these. But I’ve learned you really can’t take anything for granted. After a health issue a couple years ago it was a blessing to make it to this point, to be able to give birth, to watch my family grow a little bit more.
I have so much respect for those that go through child birth, but even more silent respect for those who want to be mothers and quietly witness those around them becoming moms. For those who stoically witness adorable newborn pictures and blossoming baby bumps on social media all the while diligently praying to become mothers and strive to start a new chapter of their lives. For some reason, sigh, not everyone who wants to be a biological mother gets to. And for those who do, I really hope even in the tough sleepless nights we get to savor it.
Prayers for those mothers- to- be, those who want to be mothers, and those in the throes of motherhood in which day and night blends a little too easily in which sleep becomes broken, and yet everything becomes whole again.
On a side note, I always thought my children’s ages would be all squished together. A one or two year gap perhaps. Z and A are sort of squished together. But baby H is 7 years younger than Z and 4 years younger than A!
My 3 brothers and I are all born within 5 years so I just assumed I too would have children also spaced closely together just so. I loved how we were all in college around the same time just a few miles apart in Atlanta and how friends were easily shared.
You can plan as much as you want and circle as many dates in the calendar, but God has His own plan for you.
We live in a world where everything is so instant. Instant results for tests, Uber delivery within a few minutes, digital pictures that no longer need developing. (Does anyone else remember the anticipation of dropping of refrigerated film hoping and praying your photos came out just so?!) You can’t plan your exact date on if you will conceive, when that would happen, and on when you will deliver. Something so primal and basic yet God knows the answers to those.
In the Quran, it says during trials to pray and be patient. I heard somewhere the praying part is easier, but the patience part is so much harder. Because patience is passive and impatience gnaws at you while instilling doubt. But still we hope and pray and wait because sometimes that’s all you can do.
“ And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive.” (Quran 2:45)
My fingers are clumsier as they form a braid in Z’s hair. The hair lifts and folds as I tighten the braid and I realize I am rusty at braiding. I will typically make a quick braid when Z goes to school, but the benefit of summer is that our routine softens while we take it slow. Meaning not many braids. I step back to admire the neatness that the braid brings to Z’s face.
I thought this summer that we would have pancakes and eggs often for breakfast, and at the beginning we may have, but now Froot Loops and Apple Jacks welcome little hands in the pantry.
One of the beauty of summers is that is appears so Endless. Summer days are long and lazily stretch.
So that when August does come around, and pencils, erasers, and notebooks grace the aisles of Target, it is easy to walk around wide-eyed, wondering Where did the summer go?
I read this article about how it’s good to take a leap when you’re almost ready. Reality is that you may never feel ready and you need a push to do things. Ready to go to college? Ready to walk across the stage to pick up your diploma? Ready to stand in front of a classroom of twenty students and teach? Ready to get settled and married? Ready to give birth while in the painful throes of labor? Ready to nurse, rock, diaper your baby? Ready to sweep grimy floors, wipe sticky counters, and raise children? Ready to now send Z off to second grade and A to pre-K?
Sigh. But a Grateful Sigh.
We have a few more days before school officially starts, a few more opportunities to make French Toast/pancakes, to swim in cool, blue water, to practice easing back in a routine and sleeping earlier! A few more moments to savor time. Until then…
“By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Quran 103:1-3)
It’s a magical blessing to see your baby grow, but it passes somewhat in a haze! When I get to photograph repeat clients, I really see how they grow. Here are a few of this mommy-baby duo from a sleepy newborn on a spring day to an alert 6 month old in the fall to their one year old birthday session in April! I feel privileged to have photographed their motherhood/infanthood journey thus far!
I love the joy these two exude and the comfort this little (who is so rapidly growing!) one seeks in his mother’s arms.
I have dropped of Z to school, and there’s just A and me in the car. The car is mostly silent. Thoughts whirl around us.
Before, I used to attempt to fill in the silence with meaningless prattle.
Are you excited about school today?
We’re almost there.
I hope you have a good day.
Now, I appreciate the silence and let it be.
I decrease the amount of questions. Now, we enjoy the quiet.
When we pick up Z later that afternoon, the silence is instantly sucked out of the car.
Words and stories bounce around the car excitedly.
As a child, I used to be much more like Z. Sometimes I still am. My words used to tumble out, sometimes carelessly here and there. Incessant chatter.
Now, I appreciate the quiet. I cherish it.
When A tinkers with the quiet after a day of preschool, I try not to knock our fragile web of silence down, but rather help weave it up.
In the silence moments I get, my thoughts swirl gently. New sentences for emerging manuscripts come to life. My mind slowly refreshes.
I am ready again for volume.
Some images below of our spring break and before….
great grandmother snuggles!
You look out the window and spot the howling trees and the sunlight that is waning slowly but swiftly, the way wintery days go.
You scroll mindlessly through Facebook and view all sorts of depressing articles on Trump, a Muslim ban, and more.
But there is hope. You know there’s a protest going on at the airport, a protest to welcome refugees and immigrants. A way to take a stand.
You are not just the daughter of an immigrant.
You are an immigrant.
You know what it feels like to be neither here nor there.
You know what it feels like to reach a new country where even the air smells different, the birds sound different, the water tastes different.
You know what it feels like to feel painfully out of place.
You know what it feels like to slowly grow roots in a new country. To slowly unfurl and blossom once more.
You feel for all the people hurting in this topsy turvy world right now.
But right now it’s not your turn to go to the protest because there are two little ones who need you right now at home. There is hair that is wet. There is outside wind that is chilly.
There is a simmering daal that is stubbornly cooking on the stove, angry and refusing to become tender soon enough.
There are people protesting outside, angry and refusing the ways of the hard world, begging for tenderness to come now.
You look at the faces of your children who know bits and pieces of the world around them, but who do not know that the world is hardening around them. They do not know about the deep and dark struggles that people are undergoing around them. They do not ask the questions of worriers yet.
You need to ground yourself and find peace.
You know what to do.
You preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
You pray with them when sunset seeps in around you.
You melt butter, mix in sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, a smidge of salt. You accidentally forget the vanilla.
Your daughters’ smiles are sugary. Their fingers buttery. Their cheeks floury. One of their hair braids is floury. Or salty. Or sugary. You can’t decipher yet.
Later, you will show them a picture of their grandmother and grandfather protesting and tell them how we welcome people. No matter who they are. No matter where they are from.
Your heart will warm when you see the protest photos, the numbers of people who care. People of all kinds taking a stand.
You will read your daughters this book and talk about the tumultuous journey of a Syrian refugee boy, a boy who misses his pet birds he left behind.
The boy will befriend new wild birds at his camp.
The world will befriend immigrants and refugees.
You will hope and pray that for now it is enough.
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Indeed, God is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran 49:13)
We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. E. B. White
I am in line at the post office. A cheerful older gentleman who works there greets me and double checks that all is ready to be mailed.
As I wait in the line and my turn pops up, I am directed to a lady behind the counter. I ask her a question to which she barely answers with a mumble. The jovial gentleman looks at her and teases her, “I don’t even know why you’re up here – you can barely answer the customer’s questions!”
Visibly annoyed at him, she continues to scan my packages. I refrain from asking her questions. Maybe she’s having a bad day. Maybe she’s tired of me.
I wish that I had been served by the jovial postal worker instead.
It’s only at the end when I’m all done and I thank her, she hoarsely whispers “You’re Welcome.” I realize abashedly that her voice is gone.
After dropping off Z and A in the morning, I am driving home to see the big, yellow school bus pull up earlier than usual. No students are waiting. As I drive into the neighborhood, I see a sleepy looking middle schooler ambling along. I feel like I should warn him. I slide down the window and yell, “The bus is here!” Panic awakens the sleepy features on his face and he is off running.
The dryer churns clothes but refuses to dry them. Round and Round. Damp and Damp. At the laundromat, I am able to focus on one thing. Laundry. That in itself is a mild treat. The row of gleaming metallic dryers, the finicky machine that will sometimes give you coins for a dollar, the spacious tables to fold clothes, the wheeling trolleys to push your clothes around all greet you.
The day is grey and a bleak cold outside, but inside there are two women folding dozens of sunny yellow shirts. The perk to the laundromat is that next door is Figo’s Pasta so we find ourselves doing laundry and savoring pasta coated in spicy tomato sauce. Instead of spending a few quarters for laundry, we end up spending more for laundry, dinner, and memories.