Monday, March 1, 2021

SOL21 Slice 1: I don't know you

I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

As soon as we arrived at their house, my daughter-in-law handed the baby to me to hold. "Bird" is four months old now, and we don't get to sit and be with her enough. Her big sister ("Frog") receives the bulk of our attention - because that is what two year olds do, demand (and receive) attention. 

I was so excited to sit and be with Bird.

Not a moment into this sweet holding, she locked eyes with me, 
her lips quivered, 
her jaw trembled, 
there were these multitudinous wrenching wiggles of her lips, 
her entire body tensed up and became rigid, 
stiff arms and legs and back, 
I thought to myself - oh no, oh no, oh no! 
and then, yes,
she let out the most enormous wail of horror - as if screaming, YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER!! 
and she continued to cry and cry and cry.
Oh my. 

I had happily anticipated holding this sweet baby, but this was not the image I had in mind. It is not fun to hold a crying baby. 

Clearly, we do NOT spend enough time with the baby.

This week, my daughter-in-law is back to work after maternity leave, and we are the babysitters a couple days a week. What is THIS going to be like? Thus, the weekend visit, to spend a little more time alongside both children, helping Bird to acclimate to us. There we were, lined up on the couch - Dad, Poppa, me (Nana), and Mom, all focused on this wee baby. Yes, grandparents in the middle, holding the wailing Bird, with her parents on each side of us, four adults all trying to soothe her, trying to give her the love and support she needed, trying to reassure her that all will be well. Let's use some 'asset-based' analysis: Bird has amazing stamina! Such perseverance! Tenacity! Wow, she will not be ignored! These traits will serve her well throughout her life, yes? 

I was reminded of all those preschoolers on the first days of school, crying at saying goodbye to their families (back before virtual...before every preschooler had their loved ones right there at their side for the morning...oh, imagine the challenge of separating these children from families in the days to come, when schools are back 'to normal,' what will that be like?). I said to Bird, tenderly, "Oh, little Bird, you need to know, I have had years and years of little ones who see my face and cry, and then, after a while, they learn to love me; I love you, little one, I do; you will learn to love me, I promise you, I promise you!" Mom and Dad tried to soothe, too - "You're okay, you're okay. Yes, yes, we are right here, too. You're okay."

Her little rigid body really fascinated me - 
such a clear visual of what we all do when stressed. 
Her entire body in tight, fixed position, like a wooden board.
How many of us are carrying our bodies like this, throughout this pandemic, every single day?
So much that is new and hard. So much that is unclear. So much that is scary and grief-filled. 
How locked up are we? The neck, shoulders, back...I suspect we move through the days carrying this extra weight of tension, at the ready.

reading this, 
relax those shoulders, 
take a deep cleansing breath, 
let out all the tension you are holding. 
You know you are!

Here's my hope, that the Two Writing Teachers' Slice of Life Story Challenge will be the deep cleansing breath we all need, the tension release, the letting go of all that has us locked up. We are one full calendar year into this pandemic, the virtual learning, the isolation. Last March, this was all just beginning, we had no real idea what the future held. 

We have been 
and are 
holding so much. 

Here's an excerpt from my post on the last day of the March 2020 challenge: 
There's something very grounding about this Slice of Life Challenge every March, and, particularly, this March, 2020. We have held each other up, we have shared our stories, and we have documented our personal history of this pandemic. I am so appreciative of this writing community. . . 
I hope you find this challenge - this practice - to be grounding, as well. This is my tenth year of participation in this blogging challenge, and I have learned through the years that ordinary moments, these slices of life, are illuminating. When I hone in on something, write 'into' the story, and try to describe in detail, I always end up somewhere else, better. Writing takes me there. To share these small moments with this community is so gratifying. 

One final note - I was able to comfort Bird, she did stop crying. I changed my hold of her, positioning her so that she was more or less sitting on my lap, looking not at me, but "out" at the room. She relaxed. We'll introduce her to my face over time - lol! - but for now, we'll accept where she's at, let her think I don't exist. hahahaha

Here's to the month of March and lots of writing ahead!

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?
- Mary Oliver


  1. Oh, Maureen, this is so wonderful. I laughed and breathed and thought about how much I’m like Bird, crying at this strange world. I love the allusion to “Are You My Mother.” I thought about the gut I threw as a first grader who should have been in kindergarten. I’m getting ready to practice yoga and promise to breathe. ❤️

  2. Thanks, Glenda! Yes, I think we are all like Bird...I know I am!

  3. Poor little Bird who just did not understand that there are others in her life beside her parents. I can imagine how difficult it was to have her cry incessantly. Tenacious and determined she was to release her stress. If we could release our stress in a reasonable manner maybe we would be free from edginess. The pandemic has given us all reason to stress but I agree with you that this writing space will be our way to release stress this month.

    1. Yes! She doesn't understand why she would need anyone other than Mom and Dad! Thanks, Carol!

  4. Lovely, so lovely. Can you put that little reminder in to relax my shoulders every day? Ha, it was super helpful. I am always surprised to find how much tension I am holding on to without even realizing it until someone says, relax your shoulders. So helpful. :)

    1. We have all spent the past year + with our bodies in a defensive, tight posture. Thanks, Betsy!

  5. I could see you all holding court while "bird" cried for her usual holding partner! So amazing how you tied that to the pandemic and our combined tension. So lovely.

    1. Children show us the way! I learn so much from watching them. Thank you!

  6. Maureen, I missed some of your posts this month because of the timing, I guess! (I have a pattern now of coming the next day to read yours.) However, I just noticed the sidebar where the list of SOLSC posts are were written in two different colors. I took it as an invitation to click on the ones I've missed!)

    And this one...what encouragement. I love what you have shared with the community of writers. I didn't realize you have been doing this for ten years! What? I can't imagine. I have only dabbled over the last few years. Just last year and this I'm more successful.

    This description of where writing takes you is perfect for me to hear today...

    "...I have learned through the years that ordinary moments, these slices of life, are illuminating. When I hone in on something, write 'into' the story, and try to describe in detail, I always end up somewhere else, better."

    1. Hi Denise, I am so excited that you looked up my older posts, seeing these listed as an invitation. Oh, how that feeds my writing! Isn't it such a blessing to be part of this community, to be able to 'grow our writing' together? Thank you for stopping by!