It is the last day of our week-and-a-half West Coast trip. We are in Portland, Oregon, the city where I was born and grew up, where I know a thousand places I would love to go–this and that bookstore, that cafe, and oh, the breakfast places I would love to savor, and the parks and walks and hikes. I’d like to get my hair cut (the last time I got it cut was in December) and take Robin to that all-children’s-book store on Alberta. Instead, we are staying close to the house today. We will be running some laundry while the few friends who are free on a weekday come by and say hi. It is so much easier this way–to not make plans or have big aspirations for the day.
This is what’s happening.
One of the highlights of this trip for me was on the very first day, just after our plane landed in San Francisco, after we waited for everyone else to get off first so that we could take our time looking around under every seat and in every overhead compartment for our whole assortment of bags and belongings. We walked up the ramp and past the boarding gate, and Robin started kicking-kicking-kicking and shrieking with delight. She looked around at the bright shops, kiosks, and quickly rushing stream of people moving in all directions in that busy airport terminal and laughed and giggled, smiled and cooed and laughed some more. And I realized–startled–I realized that she may well have thought that we had permanently moved in to that Boeing 737 with 160 other people and less than 2 vertical square feet per person.
This is what’s happening.
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, an occasional meditator, and a regularly-irregular practitioner of yoga, I have a great appreciation for all the variations of “be here now” that circulate around and through our religious and spiritual traditions and practices. But I also have always loved to plan, to anticipate the next thing, to schedule and “calendar” and try my best to organize the future. A baby is a sure-fire way to cure a person of the enjoyment of planning. It is the planned things that inevitably stress me out, now. That planned gathering will fall right during her new nap time, or come with expectations of getting Her Wiggliness into some outfit that is not her usual comfy footed sleeper. Planned things will often involve driving, or bus schedules, neither of which dovetail with easy nursing. Planned things often involve other people, and most other people are so much busier than we are, these days. I have cut back, and cut back, and cut back, until, most days now, I spend most of the day barely aware of what time it is. I keep a running list going in my head of what Robin might need; that is my ongoing daily meditation now: diaper, food, nap, play, and repeat.
Robin has just this afternoon discovered the clanging joy of banging on overturned pots with wooden spoons, wooden spoons which also make fine teethers. We leave tomorrow morning, and there are so many people and places I would have liked to have seen. But it is a privilege and a practice to set aside for now all the other things we might like to do, and just enjoy this sweet day together, with both Mamas around continuously this whole delightful week, playing in the sunlight and savoring the luscious green that is spring in Portland. An acquaintance told me she looks back on her children’s first years and thinks of them as the “I didn’t” years, a reference to all the things that go undone–dishes, projects, housecleaning, travel. I like that phrase, the “I didn’t” years; it resonates. And at the same time, I want to look back on these years and think of them as the “I did” years. We did, we are. We are choosing to focus on being with our Little Bean. We are lucky and privileged to be able to make this choice, and it is financially stressful some days, energetically challenging other days. For now, for us, this is what’s happening, right here, on the floor: overturned pots, wooden spoons, clanging and laughing and kicking, going nowhere today except around the block to look at the newly bursting flowers, letting our own focused lives be full enough, letting this be bountiful, this ordinaryness be beautiful. This is what’s happening. May it be so.