Last week I had the privilege of meeting a friend's new baby girl. Both mother and baby were beautiful and serene, getting to know each other in that remarkable, timeless space at the very beginning of life. My friend commented that the baby was very relaxed and laid-back, and she thought that was because she was as well. It gave me hope that perhaps with second babies we can relax a bit more, enjoy those first few weeks a little more, with less fear that the baby will never stop crying, that we will never learn to nurse, that there is something wrong. Surely the knowledge we gain from raising the first baby can be applied to the second, even if the two are totally different.
The mutually reinforcing serenity that my friend and her baby were sharing got me thinking about energy, about the ways we are all connected and influencing each other and subtly altering the course of history, like tiny rivulets of water forging a path across the earth. Being married to a performer, I have learned that the energy of the crowd translates to the musician. The gig goes well if the crowd is dancing and having fun, even if it's pouring down rain outside. But a reserved crowd leads to a stale gig, no matter what the weather. Some challenging tasks energize us, while others suck the energy away and leave us exhausted.
I had a full and busy schedule this past weekend. Saturday morning was spent back at the City Market with Mandy. We got more good feedback on our work and sold a few things, but did not continue the pattern we set at the last market, where we both did very well. We both left feeling tired and hot, and a bit discouraged, but determined to keep going forward, with plans to take pictures of our work and proceed with setting up an Etsy page, finally.
Saturday was also our sixth wedding anniversary, so Brian and I got a babysitter and went out to dinner. We had a beautiful meal on the rooftop terrace at Sazerac, which we have been hearing about. The sun was shining but it wasn't too hot, there was a nice breeze and easy conversation, a lovely glass of Chenin Blanc, so delicious I wrote down the exact name of the wine. Dessert was a perfectly prepared creme brulee and a shared champagne cocktail. We laughed, talked about our beautiful, amazing girl, spoke the honest truth to each other. We felt surrounded by good energy, by love, by a sense of accomplishment in having stayed true for 6 years.
On Sunday, Father's Day, Dora and I spent time together at home in the morning, and ran errands, too. We took Dora downtown to Splasheville, a new fountain in the recently completed Pack Square Park that shoots water out unpredictably as kids and adults run around cooling off in the heat. Dora was shy and unsure at first, but the energy of the other laughing, playful children drew her in, and soon we were bargaining with her to get her home. I spent a few hours that day making a delicious and beautiful lime tart with berries. Supposedly this was part of Brian's Father's Day gift - and it's true that he enjoyed it very much - but it was as much for me as it was for him. Oh how I love gathering my ingredients, following the instructions, making something beautiful and delicious and filled with love. Even when making things from scratch is tiring, I come away feeling energized and fulfilled.
Last night, Mandy and I got together for a little photo shoot in preparation for setting up the Etsy site. We collaborated on each scene in her beautiful backyard, using stone and tree bark and grass and sky as backdrops for our work while David entertained Dora on the swing set. I was completely energized by the photography, as I am by the crafting. I couldn't wait to get home and work with the images. We drove home in the heat to a gathering thunderstorm, and when I got Dora out of the backseat I realized she was burning up. More than just sweaty from play, she had a fever. She immediately went to her room and asked to go to bed. I turned on her air conditioner and fan, stroking her hair as she fell asleep. In my mind, I turned over the possible causes of her illness, from the ridiculous to the probable, returning so easily and quickly to my early motherhood days of high anxiety and wildly creative disaster thinking. I later explained to Brian that the creative disaster thinking is probably some remnant of motherly instinct to protect, to be hyper-vigilant to any possible threat to our young. Understanding it's cause and origin, though, doesn't make it any easier to control or accept, or any less exhausting.
Saturday, June 19th, was also my mother's birthday. She would have been 74. I think about her now and I wonder if she had these same worries, these same questions of identity and purpose and future. I know she taught me to worry the way she did, so I'm quite sure she did her own share of creative disaster thinking every time I stepped off the school bus with a hot forehead. It's easy to believe that our parents always had all the answers, but now as a mother myself I realize that's just not the case. They were just making it up as they went along as we are now. When I stood in the shower the day I went into labor, hot water pouring down over my round belly, my last moments of pregnancy upon me, I tried to think of my mom as she must have felt facing new motherhood, and I realized she was surely as afraid and uncertain as I was.
I have moments in my life in which what I am doing brings me such strong positive feelings - tender moments with Dora, an evening of solid writing, a turn of the embroidery needle that comes out just right, a perfectly prepared lime tart. I'm trying to find out how to be sure that more of my time is spent on these things - these things which energize rather than exhaust me. Like the cause of Dora's fever I turn over and over in my mind the possibilities, wondering how I will ever figure this out. I'm trying to use what I've learned about myself so far in this life to really understand who I am, even when such introspective thinking results in total uncertainty. Surely that burst of energy I feel from certain creative outlets is the universe trying to tell me something. If only I can find the serenity to get to know it, that timeless and remarkable space we must inhabit at times of new life, during periods of transformation, at the beginning of something new.