Are we ready for baby #2?

Holding hands on a walk.

When Simeon and I decided to have our first child we went through what felt like a fairly comprehensive check-list of considerations.

Do we both want a child? Yes. An obvious question to be sure, but what if the answers were to have differed? What then? Thankfully they did not.

Are we healthy? Are we prepared physically? Yes.

Are we financially stable? Yes. Though student loans and credit card debt still loomed large in the budget and we would have loved to have been making more than the woefully underpaid non-profit salaries we were bringing in, we were both earning good enough paychecks. It felt like enough to support a family.

Are we really ready to bring home a baby? Well, to be honest, this was tricky. This question could read as a matter of whether we were emotionally ready for the changes a child would cause. But in reality, it was the technicality of the question we had to consider. We didn’t actually have a home to bring a baby to. We had quickly moved to Vermont when a job offer was made and after a couple months we still had yet to find an affordable and semi-permanent living situation. In the meantime, we had been renting a room in a home owned by friends. At least we would have nine more months to sort things out, right? But then I wavered. Should we wait until things were even more clearly settled? This was a decision we would never be able to undo. We had to be sure.

Eventually, I took solace in the advice I had heard repeated by many friends who had had children: There’s never a perfect time. You can never prepare enough to feel really ready and even if you do prepare better than anyone ever has in the history of parenting (assuming that’s a possibility) it will be futile. No one can predict what kind of temperament to expect from their newborn.

Verdict: There’s never a perfect time. And one other thing I heard said over and over, I’ve never regretted it anyhow.

So, we went for it. And when Eli was born I was not nervous or overwhelmed. I even surprised myself by how calm I was in the day-to-day experience of being a new mom. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around what a miracle it is to grow a human inside my body and expel it alive and well.  And yes, I was bowled over by the enormity of the responsibility of caring for this tiny helpless human. But I took comfort knowing that every person on Earth had had a mother and whether she was a great mom, or a so-so mom, they had made it and there they were, shopping for groceries or waiting patiently at a red light. I would be ok. HMy baby would be ok.

Eli is now two years old and again I am find myself incredulous. Are we ready for another baby? And again we find ourselves asking those same questions… What about buying a more permanent home? Should we wait to have more in savings? What about our relationship with our son? Are we ready to introduce a new member to the family and disturb our little trio?

It’s not a logical decision I hear over and over again. Stop using logic to make this choice and ask with your heart instead.

In a quiet moment I find space to sit with myself. My heart beats. In the rhythm of its thumping I feel a tug. An opening. I want another child. A beat. Did I just say that? A thump. A quickening. Yes, we’re ready. We can do this. Another baby Bittman. Coming soon. Hopefully.

Th-thump. Th-thump. Th-thump…

 

A Birthday Party for Eli #2

 

IMG_8079This past weekend we celebrated our two-year old with a perfectly simple, sweet, intimate party.

What started out as a plan for a  bonanza of a house warming/toddler birthday with all the things and all the people turned into a small gathering of just a couple of friends and grandparents. We decided to move the party from the lunch hour–and Eli’s prime nap time (what were we thinking!?) to a relaxed early afternoon time slot at two o’clock (how appropriate, no?). Instead of burgers and hot dogs and all the fixings, Simeon made a tapas dish called papas bravas and a strawberry upside-down cake. Maggie and Sam brought a vibrant green salad and Emily and Scott brought a bubbly wine for the grown-ups. With vanilla ice cream and sugar cones from the pantry it was the perfect amount of food for the guests and super scrumptious all around!

Good food, good people, and a best of all: a brand-spanking new Radio Flyer tricycle for the birthday boy. He rode that thing in circles all afternoon. We even taught the boys how to hitch a ride on the back! They loved it. It’s so fun to witness these little friends fostering a friendship that I hope will last and last.

And then, as we started singing “Happy Birthday” to my baby boy, he grabbed my face in his hands and pushed his cheek next to mine. He held us there until the song ended–suspended side by side. As I reflect now, it’s how I’d like us to remain as he grows. Arms and faces and hearts, looking forward together side by side. With plenty of cake to share, of course.

 

We’re Moving to Pittsfield!

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I’m learning to be bold. To claim my space–physical space, mental space. Space has become so important to me. I need space… 

I started writing this post back in July of last year. I guess this blog post also needed some space of its own…

Spaciousness was a word that kept falling onto the contours of my mind last summer, echoing as I encountered the many micro-ways I kept my self small. Kept my life small. And not in obvious ways, no. My life had been expanding both in size and scope for a few years at least. A ross-country move, multiple new jobs, life partner, marriage, pregnancy, new baby, more moves, more jobs. Just life. And despite being in the wide open spaciousness of rural Vermont country life at the time, the idea of more space occupied my mind. I wanted a space a could expand into, fully unfurled and expressed. What would a bolder me accomplish? What could that woman do? Her potentiality strained me as I navigated a life lived too small. Like a plant, not yet repotted.

Today, in March of 2017, I think I have stepped into the bolder me I earlier craved. At least a little bit. I took a huge, bold, risk and moved my family south to Massachusetts–less on whim and more on prayer.

This week, after five months of this bold journey, my little family of three says farewell to our home-away-from-home, which we’ve been sharing with my wonderful in-laws, and moves into a home of our own. A space of my own.

We are moving into a 3-bedroom duplex apartment with a front and back porch, a bathtub (!), and a large backyard that leads into a multi-hundred acre park full of wild trails and daffodils and lilacs come spring. It’s a dreamy home with glossy, creaky wooden floors, bright white walls, and a landlady who carefully tends to the building like a mama bear to her cub. It is the perfect next home from which to expand, judiciously, as we start yet another season. And how perfect to find home in spring? We begin anew, again.

And as I think about it, what boldness there is in the planting! The unknowingness of the enterprise: the wild nature of the elements of earth, and sky, and rain, could throw off even the most experienced gardener. What will come of our planting here in the Berkshires this year? I hope a most fruitful harvest. And so far, all signs point to the greatest bounty yet. With room to grow.

 

Happy New Year!

It’s 2017!

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A handmade sign at the Four Freedoms march in Pittsfield, MA

The start of this new year is not filled with as much joyful expectancy as I’d normally expect to feel. It’s hard for me to feel well while watching the calendar flip every closer to Trump’s inauguration. I can’t help but feel mostly mournful over the future. When I try to muster courage for what’s to come I retreat into my personal world to find some bit of joy.

Thankfully, a few ordinary things have added positive drops to my happiness well this week and I was reminded that only I can truly determine my state of mind this year. I will not wallow. I will act. I will not stay down. I will rise up and speak out. I will not ignore my blessings. I will amplify them.

Thank you to my old friend who didn’t realize what a powerful impact his random email had on my relatively normal workday afternoon. Thank you to the 1300+ people of Pittsfield who marched on Saturday for the heart of our democracy and the cornerstone Four Freedoms. Thank you to my family-of-friends who gathered–as is our yearly tradition–to share in the blessing of our long-lasting friendship among lots of good eats and good drinks. Thank you to my extended family-from-marriage whose love and conviviality always brightens my heart.

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Mama Bittman, Baby Bittman, Dada Bittman!

This year, no matter what, I will hold my little family close, relish the pure love and joy that enlivens my son, and send meditations of well being across this country. 2017, bring it on.

I am weary

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health winter timeI am so weary from the news of the day and my spirit aches for renewal and assurances of a lasting peace. And all the while, Earth has been steadily spinning so that night will come and the moon will rise and tomorrow will bring another dawn.

I posted this to Facebook this afternoon. With more new articles coming every hour with updates about President-Elect Trump’s deeply troubling business debts and conflicts of interest, allegations of Russian interference in our election, the Syrian crisis, and how I’m going to afford day-care, I want to weep and weep and weep and weep.

This is not who we are. This is not the Universe I know and trust. And yet, isn’t it? The web of life connects, contains, and corrupts. Decay is a part of the essence of birth and of life. These aren’t platitudes–it’s the core of our existence. So I try. I try to stay with the feelings as they come: shame for not being more actively involved in the fight for justice, fear for how my life and my son’s life will change in the years to come, despair that so much good may be undone, and grief over what could have been. My silent tears seep through my skin and I try to absorb the truth. This is what I feel. This is what is real. This is the truth today.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

playing in the snowHappy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours.

I feel so lucky to have my family with me in these interesting times. Though there is a lot to feel disheartened about these days, right now I am reveling in my beautiful, healthy, happy family. And for them, I am very, very thankful.

May this season remind all of us what is at the heart of all our efforts during the rest of the year: those people who make up our circles of family, friends, and loved ones and the incredibly diverse humanity of which we are a part.

xo

Summer Bucket List

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Summer is well under way but by no means is it too late for a Bucket List!

There is so much to see and do here in Vermont and the surrounding areas in the summer. I hope we can cross off quite a few of these activities–especially now that Eli is at an age where he can truly appreciate some of them.

Arts & Entertainment

  • Antiques & Uniques
  • Bread & Puppet
  • Circus Smirkus
  • Tanglewood

Farmer’s Markets

  • Craftsbury Farmer’s Market
  • Burlington Farmer’s Market
  • Montpelier Farmer’s Market
  • Portland, Maine Farmer’s Market ?

Places to Go

  • Family hike
  • Picnic at the lake
  • Visit Cape Cod
  • Caledonia Spirits Tasting & Tour
  • Shelbourne Farms
  • Blueberry picking
  • Strawberry picking