On Keeping Up

I have a half dozen ideas for things I’d like to write about swirling about in my head. Reflections about reflections. Thoughts about thoughts, about how the mind works, about how the mind works when there’s so little time to write or read or have a meandering relaxed conversation with a friend, but there’s lots of time spent washing the same dishes, cooking the same food, reading the same A-B-C book out loud, and singing the same bedtime songs. Contemplations about time, about how a month can seem interminable if a baby is crying all the time, or it can seem like it’s going by so fast if the baby is a delight to be with. About the gradual, subtle, almost-imperceptible-sometimes, beautiful transition from perseverance to savoring, the difference between getting-by, between “keep keeping,” as in Sandra Cisneros’ beautiful piece, and keeping up, living life in each full cascading moment and enjoying it. Ever since we hit 5 months, Life With Baby has been easier for us, more manageable, which doesn’t mean it’s been easy, but it’s been so much better than those first 5 challenging months. And now we are in the halcyon days, the sweet days of amazement at what our child discovers each day, the days that I think we thought having a baby were going to be like, and they may only be a smidgen of what having a baby is actually like, but they are amazing, amazing days.

I’ve been saying to friends and family that the phase we seem to be entering into is “keeping up.” And because it took almost 10 months for us to get to this point of joy, of truly enjoying the moments and not just surviving them, I am embracing this keeping up. Keeping up means that I am managing to completely empty the sink of dishes and now-and-then have an empty dishwasher as well. Keeping up means I am starting to think about what I’d like to cook, and maybe looking up a recipe, more than 5 minutes in advance of needing to eat right now. Keeping up means that we are blessed with the resources, ability, and energy to be feeding our little eater vats of healthy, home-cooked and home-prepared food, and she is loving it: tofu, quinoa, carrots, avocados. Keeping up means that I’m excited and eager to start making more complicated things for her to eat, combinations of things, food patties and to-go food. Keeping up means that there is just the littlest bit more spaciousness in our days, that I feel like I have gotten enough sleep, and that I can think ahead to next week and start to imagine going to a yoga class or to the gym. I have not prioritized exercise as much as I’d hoped to by this 10 month point, but I’m aware of that and working towards it—and that, there, that’s keeping up. “Aware and working towards.” It feels like the clouds of “putting one foot in front of the other” are lifting. The other night (while washing dishes, of course) I noted the distinct and surprising feeling of “being elated,” being elated for no particular reason. I noted it, enjoyed it, and kept washing dishes. Because I am just keeping up.

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