A Thousand Monarch Butterflies


I’m searching for a pen among the sea of my cluttered desk — a teething ring, a bent paper clip, a rogue bracelet, an empty granola wrapper, a box of photos, an open barette, a baby monitor, a stapler.  These are a few of the many items cluttering the desk.  I need something to write with — something to record this moment as you lay in my arms, cradled in the nook of my left arm nest, tucked against my beating heart — so big, so warm, so welcome to this love.  Your mouth is just the tiniest bit ajar, now it’s closed.  Just like that you shift — my observation so keen and acute, changes and you are in another moment — another plane of time.

You are changing so quickly before my eyes.  The days are long and boring sometimes, but the milestones seem to race by.  Just two weeks ago as the Bradford Pears peaked and the Magnolias were musing in their bright pink fuchsia petals, dripping onto the green grass of a newborn spring, you were beginning  to crawl and do your crabwalk scoot.  One leg a scooter, the other a crawling propeller.  

Photo by Megan Oteri Copyright 2011

Now, as the Dogwood trees bloom their white white cottony velvet petals, just two weeks later, you are pulling up, thinking about walking, manipulating  the mechanics of it in your beautiful mind filled with so many new things that have opened up into your world and laid a carpet before you of excitement and curiosity.  I watch you, bewildered and provide a safe lighthouse for you to look back on and see.  Always I will offer you that light, that magnification of your greatness out at sea. 

As I watch you, so peacefully asleep. frozen in this sliver of time, I hold onto you and savor it — savor it — savor it, because as cliché as it is — it goes by too damn fast.  But this — this moment — it’s crystalized and I feel it so intensely as if a thousand Monarch butterflies have fluttered in my heart.  Staring and bewildered by the beauty — I look in sweet swift glance as it passes by.

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Tug Tug Tug


Tug Tug Tug

The vanilla crème color of our flannel sheets rest easy against your left cheek. You are curled towards me, as I write on the cotton clean white of my notebook. The vanilla pillowcase cradles my notebook. Your pink cheeks are the color of ripe peaches — perfect you are. Your eyes dance in tiny flutters — your eyelashes — the equator between your lids. Your soft brown hair looks dark today, depending on the light, it is sometimes red in its hues.

Ben & Teddy

The afternoon is passing slowly today. We are caught in this sandwich of light and time. I dare not take a bite. I only wish to watch it on my plate. I can hear your father shuffling papers across the hall in our shared office space. I look up from the bed in our bedroom and see the reds and blues of his Patriots hat.

There is a connection between the three of us that is ethereal, like the string of an invisible thread that tugs at each of us and when we’re all together, we feel whole. But when we are apart, even if it’s fifteen feet, like this morning, with your father in the art room and both of us across the hall in the bedroom, we feel the tug tug tug of this string. You’ll never be able to cut it loose, at least, I believe.

I don’t want this string to ever strangle you or pull you back from somewhere else. I am allowing myself some time to process this thought — that someday you won’t be so close to me — you may go off to college, you may move away. This string for me will always tug tug tug. For now, I squeal in quiet delight at the thought of you right here, right now. Your fingers resting against the soft downy comfort of our flannel sheets, your warmth multiplied by my own body heat.

Hover — Between Two Worlds


                                                                                                                                                                Hover — Between Two Worlds

             The baby monitor gurgles.  Ben is moving around in the mattress we have put on the floor of his bedroom.  We’ve moved him because he is now an official crawler.  And a raised bed for him is like a type rope over the Grand Canyon for our worried new parent hearts.  His room is quite cheerful, toy trucks splattered about the wide plank dark wooden floors.  Primary color toys: lime green frogs with red stitched smiles, cardinal red truck engines with bright blue wheels lay on their side, a brown teddy bear with fur as soft as cashmere lays upside down too on the blue yarn rug. 

Benjamin's room

The backdrop of the crisp bluebonnet blue walls, with bright white cotton trim on the doors, closets and window, pop, crystallizing invisible rays of joy.  The color just radiates.  His mini Mozart piano lays quietly resting underneath Teddy.  This mess looks cheerful, unorganized and naturally spilt: a collage of child chaos curved in delight.

            The navy blue curtains are open now, revealing the sheer white curtains underneath, that lace some privacy.  The natural light flows in on the East side of the house.  Just one window in this room, ninety feet tall, is like a symphony of brightness when the curtains are open.  This room cheers me, like a friendly dog.

            My plans for writing are over, ending abruptly.  It seems once I nurse Ben to sleep, I only have time to gaze at him for ten minutes, snoring soundly, gently kissing his soft, cool cheek, resting on his side, eyes closed, eyelids hissing in dreams I long to know about.  I caress his lose curls, twisting in circles the size of my thumb nail, thinking to myself, there simply is nothing more angelic than a sleeping baby – my sleeping baby – my sleeping baby that I dreamed of for years — my sleeping baby which I dreamed about for years that I thought was never going to be mine.  A single tear falls as I think this.  I wipe it away before it drips on his cheek, my own so close to his.  I should really go.  Go write. Go mop. Go clean.  Go read. Go do something.  Do all the somethings I long to do when I am not doing anything, just hanging out with my beautiful baby boy when I am bored from not doing something other than doing this – mothering my baby.

            But I just lay next to Ben and I watch him, sleeping like an angel, his physical body a reminder to me of the reality of my dream.  My dream to have a child.  Our dream, our union and extension of the love we have for each other, my husband and me.

            Ben is snuggled softly, tucked into the white comforter.  My heart balloons so wide it could brush up against the blue bonnet blue of the walls, filling up the room, touching the twelve foot ceiling above me. 

            It is time to slip away.  Time to move on from baby gazing to the real world.  To the world where I need to get something done.  Why can’t I hover longer in this isolated baby gazing world?  What has pinpricked my invisible balloon, cascading up the blue walls?  Really, what will happen if the floors don’t get mopped or if I don’t write?  Nothing.  The sad truth is nothing will happen.  But what is even sadder and what I am currently dealing with, is these baby gazing moments don’t last forever.  They pass so quickly, like loose ends between two worlds.  And I get stuck between these two worlds where I desperately long to get something done.  Something done as an adult, as a separate entity other than mother.  Something that fills the rank of writer, artist, friend, adult.  A phone call, an essay, a photo uploaded to facebook, a chapter read for grad school, a floor mopped, teeth brushed, something.  Something done for me.  Just me.  Only me.  But the other world that draws me in, zaps me in, pulls me in, tugs me in, drags me in, lifts me in, lures me in, is this world.  This world where my baby boy sleeps like an angel, soft on the pillows of magical clouds.  I drift, floating above him, surreal in the chemistry this context creates, and I hover, holding onto this silent moment so it will not slip away into the ethereal embers I can’t keep lit.           

 I did manage to slip away.  I made a stronger pot of coffee, changed the laundry over, washed some toys with my new vinegar solution that I am deliriously enchanted about (well, as delirious as one can get about natural cleaners) and then I sat down to write at my desk in the art room, papers strewn everywhere, a collection of printed natural home cleaner recipes on pastel yellow paper are nestled and tucked under the keyboard.  A box of empty raisons, a buoy off in the corner of the ocean of papers.  None of them distinguishable under the notebooks, books, journals, and lost artifacts of the art room, unbaby-proofed and off limits to Ben.

                       Recipe for All natural Spray Cleaner

1/2 water
1/2 white vinegar

             I pull up Word Perfect, ready to write.  Fingers ready to strike the black keyboard.  Then I hear the rustle on the baby monitor.  I walk over to intercept the piercing cries, but I am surprised to find Ben gazing in the direction of the stereo, playing classical music.  I step to the side of the open door to his room; I am edged into the bathroom. I watch him.  Head peering around the corner, my body hidden in the bathroom.  Content in his own bed.  Our bed.  Our family, bed sharing, co-sleeping arrangement.  He looks so small in the queen mattress.  The white comforter snuggles up against him.  His legs kicked free.  What is he thinking about? I wonder.  His eyes on the curtains, letting in the filtered sunlight of the afternoon.  He seems to be studying it.  Studying the peacefulness of this moment.  He does not see me.  I linger in this moment long.  Hovering once again. I am pulled in, magically.  Musefully, as a mother, in this moment.