Strawberry boy

Strawberry

I watch him on the monitor and wonder how long he’s been awake. He chews on his sleep sack.

I knock on the door and say his name softly. He cries out as if he’s being rescued.

I try to nurse him but he doesn’t eat. He wiggles away to play.

I give him a strawberry with his lunch. He squishes it in his hands instead.

I put him in his playpen and sneak away to make coffee. He watches me like a hawk.

I hug him against me for his afternoon nap. He crosses his legs one on top of another.

I unbutton his overalls to change his diaper. He rolls over to his left, then again, and again.

I brush his teeth and wash his face. He tries to kick off his sleep sack.

I put him down in his crib. He scrunches up his face but he can’t fight sleep.

I lean in for a kiss. He lifts his hands to me, and they still smell of strawberries.

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My favourite time of day

IMG_20150808_093527It’s my favourite time of day, when the sun is about to set, and the light streaming in through the window is golden. Before M, I relished afternoon siestas, or reading in bed. I could laze around for ages in this light.

I had forgotten about this. Since my days are now filled with M, the thought of afternoon siestas or reading anywhere just does not enter my mind at all. It’s always one thing after another — diapers then snacks then singing then reading then snacks again — and generally being manager, welfare officer, event planner, entertainer.

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But today, as I was sitting in the middle of the play area surrounded by toys, I saw that golden light through the window again. Even though there was no afternoon siesta on offer, nor was there any fictional book in sight, I felt at peace. We had filled our day with laughter — and some crying too — but M had slept in my lap with his mouth gaping open, had smiled at me from across the room, had gingerly stretched out his legs to stand from crouching, had cruised along the length of the sofa to grab my phone, and we had even gone out for a coffee and a stroll.  With golden streaks of light flooding in, I watched him experiment with coloured cubes and a bouncy dinosaur, and all was right in the world.

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What is ragepotter, you ask

potter

What is ragepotter, you ask.

The only hobby I had growing up was learning to play the piano when I was around six. I remember the smell of the studio, the stickers my teacher used to place on the corners of music books, and the crispness of the pages as she turned them one by one.

As soon as she started me on the left hand, I quit.  Life, for a six-year-old, was too short to use my left hand for anything other than picking my nose.

When a friend encouraged me to pick up a hobby to escape my perpetual depressive state when I was in my early twenties, I picked pottery instead. It was hard work and took a lot of discipline, not to mention physical energy. I would sweat just wedging, kneading big chunks of clay by hand to knock out all the air, slamming it on the bench, and wedging it again and again with the arms, the elbows, leaning my body into it. I would get lost in the rhythmic motion, heaving back and forth, knocking out all the toxic pockets of self-loathing and doubt.

No sooner had you shaped the clay into a ball, as round as you can, than you smashed the ball onto the wheel, as hard as you can. Take a breath and splash water over it, step on the pedal to spin the wheel, and watch this shapeless but bumpy mass spin out of control. You have to use all your might to hold the spinning lump of wet clay, hold it steady, guiding its rise and fall. You channel your hurt into all this, like a madman, emptying the dark, grunting and cursing — becoming the ragepotter — until the clay is centered, until it’s perfectly round, and moulds to your hands as you encircle it.  Maybe that’s what zen people mean when they talk about being centered. When the room is still, when all your energy is spent, and all that’s left is the murmurs of the studio behind and to the left of you.

I used to sit there and admire the little dome of round clay, anticipating dipping my thumb in the middle to open up its center, and steadying myself in the stillness to pull up the wall, heady with the possibilities of all that it could be.

I hardly have time for this anymore, and anyway I don’t have as much rage as I used to. Before M was born, I had countless appointments with my therapist talking through what postpartum depression would look like, what signs to look out for. I even had to drag the husband to some of these meetings so he could be schooled on what to do or say, and what not to do or say. Now I’m blessed with this bundle of cheeks, I am more calm than I’ve been for a long time. My doctor even joked that M cured me.

I am no longer a potter who rages, but the name kinda stuck. I let it be a reminder of what I no longer want to be.

Your disproportions

My dear son,

I take a million pictures of you. I want to bottle you up and store you away, because you are already growing too quickly.  You have almost tripled your weight in these short months, and soon you will be too big for my arms.

I can’t stop staring at you, when you sleep, when you smile, when you kick your legs, when you raise your head. When you were even smaller than you are now, you fed and slept like an old man. After filling your tummy, you would hold your forearms to the sides of your face and stretch your neck. Your eyelids were too heavy from sleep to open, so you’d just raise your eyebrows.

When you were seven days old, I couldn’t bring myself to let your Nena cut your hair.  I loved how your hair looked wet and clung to your forehead. I loved how straight it was, even though I always wanted you to have Baba’s curly hair.  That day I cried for you—though for other reasons—and let your Nena shave your head.  Your hair has grown back now, by and large. Even the shape of your head is different.

When you were first born, you had a heavy row of very very short eyelashes. No longer than two millimeters, but the lashes were very close together. For a while, you had the most beautiful grey eyes. We had no idea where that came from, but they were soft grey and melted my heart. They are changing slowly. A bit of brown has crept into your right eye, and maybe soon they will be even darker.

Your face still takes up only the lower part of your head.  And looking at you from a low angle, I can see a perfect circle enveloping your face.  You are a perfect circle to me.  There is a video of your cousin J when he was about 4 months old, and he was waking up from sleep at Grandmas. He had his little hands to his face, grabbing, scratching at his eyes.  Both his hands did not even cover a small part of his face.  The disproportions made me melt, and now I see that with you too.

It’s hard to believe I’m a mother to an almost-toddler who makes me laugh everyday with his gummy grin and soundless clapping. It both thrills and scares me that soon everything in that last sentence will change, as your teeth cut through and you find the coordination to align your hands to make noise.