before we begin, there's something you must know. there is no one better to tell your story and offer your heart and bring all the spirit which burns within you, and so it is imperative that you be heard. I learn this daily. I deserve to speak because I am full of words to say. I need not be an expert or followed by thousands to tell you of my days and learnings. be careful with that: do not give your trust away easily, for the bonds we hold with ourselves are most often damaged. trust your desire and if you are compelled to share, do.
I am this sort, and that's the breaks.
I have never been a creature of habit or ritual. my routines were limited and time-sensitive. perhaps the most consistent bit of me is the cycle of calm before reinvention, the peace of molting old business, the comfort of emergence in new form. yes, of course I have my forever routes across a familiar town, and I do my brows first, and Sunday night dinners are sacred, but I am otherwise a soul buoyed by the inconstant, and so I wonder how it is that this season of parenting has thrilled me so. three has been rigidity and thin skin and particularities and all the feelings, and yet it remains decidedly perfect. I think it is no coincidence that my newfound adherence to rituals of self-care began as her season of independence did, and I share today still learning how to navigate our now.
of the routines I love best, cutting and running is beloved. I have grown quite skilled at reinventing myself in new cities and careers and skirt lengths and understandings of myself. and in all that care for my wandering self, I allowed my steady self to become invisible. I need to tell you that I didn't know I needed constancy until the moment I looked around my life and saw no anchor save an infant girl needing me. and in the four years since I met eyes with that child, my sweet Pearl, I have followed a twisting road towards planting roots. I switched schools for a more routine schedule; I moved across town for a safer block; I packed it all up and traveled home to the Blue Ridge for the ultimate of steadiness - my own mother; I tucked us into our cottage, laying claim to earth; and so, through this planting of self, I anchored my spirit. oh, I long to run and my daydreams and somedays remain full of the honey-soaked possibilities of tomorrow, but I was now eye-to-eye with the woman I'd become, and reveling in the beauty of her.
it was this - the desire to meet routinely meet my reflection with joy - that built this life we live. that drives me ever forward. that compels me to hold space for women seeking the same. that governs my days and soothes my nights. that carves a place in this world for the girl who began the journey. and so I say, these are my thoughts and the habits that serve us.
thought no. 1: single motherhood, a mindset
I wonder if this is a shared view, or if I am alone in this feeling. in fact, I spent time this morning ruminating on my sentiments to realize not only have I never put them into words, but that I may sound absolutely bonkers to some. I wondered at the genesis of this pattern of parenting and personal perspective, and - as everything - it's rooted in single motherhood.
as a woman parenting alone, I can often experience a pitying world, or a shaming one, or a questioning one, and I am on guard to that. defensive, even. last Saturday, my child knocked a can of San Pellegrino from our table as we scuttled puzzle pieces about during lunch. I'm sure the two women who rushed to hand me napkins all wrinkly-browed and apologetic meant well, but I could feel myself hardening to the help because this has been single motherhood for me: the suggestion that I've got enough on my hands, and one more thing might push me over the brink.
I am not making light the way motherhood has enveloped my core, and consumed me in the way of early love and new jobs and concentrating on a particular exit on an unknown highway or eavesdropping on a nemesis. to be a mother has devoured me and expanded me simultaneously, so much so that I don't know where motherhood begins and I end, and this is thrilling and steadying and terribly exhausting all at once.
but that is true for so many mothers, and I count myself amongst friends in that regard. I love the muddied line between woman and mother-me. I embrace it. both are so real.
I mean to say this: my experience of the world of motherhood is one built upon going at it alone. I do not bounce ideas for how to handle problems nor do I hear my thinking echoed back to me. all that I know of parenting, I have discovered and embodied independently. and I'm OK with that. even if it means cleaning up huge spills at the pace of a three year-old while an entire restaurant watches. even if it means that the moments of quiet after bed aren't shared, but rather truly silent save for the whirring of my mind. even if it means that my governing voice and philosophy may sound absurd. there it is.
HABIT: seek selflessness, be humble, celebrate grace
SERVES: our spirits, freeing ego
thought no. 2: on routines, a mindset
I often hear folks speak of the importance for routines for children, and I want to say an unpopular thing: these routines are not ours to make, but to uncover. children do not merely enjoy ordered environments according to adult's logic, but rather they thrive in routines cultivated from their own designs. I do not understand why my girl's socks go on first, nor can I determine her rationalization behind naked breakfast, but to enforce my own will upon her structures robs my daughter of both her agency and her reasoning.
my purpose as a mother is to guide, refine, and support that with which my child is naturally endowed.
children deserve the opportunity to create their own systems and order their days. every accident is a chance to learn to solve a problem. every slow morning departure is a chance for me to catch my breath. every bedtime is a chance to discover a hidden element in a picture book. when children build it, they nurture it - whatever "it" is - and this is how they learn to love and grow and respect themselves, others, and the world we share.
A Tuesday Morning Routine, according to Pearl
7:11 - wake up and play the hiding game five times
7:14 - eat two frozen waffles folded like sandwiches in the front room
7:21 - place 1/4 of second waffle on the kitchen counter
7:22 - feed Jack, the cat
7:25 - get naked, lie down on the bath mat, tell mama about dreams
7:27 - use toilet, make sure mama stays with
7:30 - brush teeth + do five morning oils
7:32 - notice that day's chosen clothing is wrong, start again
7:42 - finish dressing
7:45 - finish the waffle and practice spinning in the kitchen
7:50 - choose headband, get a stool for hair combing
8:00 - have a hug with mama
8:01 - get mama's keys, close hallway closet door
8:02 - check on the flowers along the path or tell mama a story
these routines are her creation, and my pleasure to witness, for they mean her brain is wildly designing and navigating this world. to facilitate this, I have routines of my own.
A Tuesday Morning Routine, according to Mama
6:47 - wake up, clean kitchen in the light of day, make lunches if unmade
7:00 - make tea, check messages
7:05 - first wakeup call, brush teeth, roll on face serum
7:08 - second wakeup call, lose tea somewhere
7:11 - wake up Pearl, play the hiding game five times
7:12 - toast two frozen waffles, ask if today is a plate or napkin day
7:14 - begin makeup routine
7:21 - finish makeup with Savvy spray, grab mascara, fill the cat's scooper for Pearl
7:22 - mascara
7:25 - listen to Pearl's dreams + do morning oils
7:27 - resist urge to look for tea, get dressed in bathroom
7:30 - find tea, help Pea with morning oils
7:32 - tear apart drawers in search of a dress for Pearl
7:36 - break for tears because the dress is dirty, refill and turn on all downstairs diffusers
7:42 - thank Pearl
7:45 - get homemade detangler + both brushes
7:50 - turn on a record
7:57 - almost give up, find your breath, comb the last section of hair
8:00 - have a hug with Pearl
8:01 - chug tea, grab all bags
8:02 - check on the flowers along the path or tell Pearl a story
HABIT: notice breath, be patient, give thanks
SERVES: our hearts, freeing minds
thought no. 3: on journeys, a mindset
I am center for my child. her North star. and so where I go becomes the home. this is beautifully dependent and requires such awareness. it makes traveling a true adventure, which at times it can be weary. my motherhood is without break, and so elements of home must travel with us. for us, the stories are the thing. (and oils forever, no question.)
illustrator Carson Ellis spins a whimsical tale, a meditation on home and the variety of spaces we occupy with love.
after last summer's fiery altercations, we needed to speak about the good that exists in our world if only within ourselves.
do not ever discount the simple loveliness of a counting book - of families, for every family, with a pertinent reminder.
a testament to the singular joys of grandparents, whose perspectives on kindness and community are keen.
Last Stop on Market Street
HABIT: share space, tell truths, honor self
SERVES: our mind, releasing hearts
I suppose I needed to share these to unearth a truth: true self care.. that marvelous spirit tending.. it means balance within, and that begins for me by harmonizing our internal selves with our spoken intentions. that's the work I'm after.