Artifacts of ourselves / by Christina Rosalie

On Friday, the minute after I posted, Bean woke up, still fussy, still with huge brontosaurus tears, inconsolable, needy. It was a long weekend. We're adjusting to a possibly teething, much more active little guy, and it's been a bit of a crash course. The house is finally quite tonight. The first time all weekend I've had down time--away from Bean, DH or friends, who often stop by now that we live in a neighborhood of people who share, among other things, our passion for outdoor sports and good food.

I went for a run this evening with Bean, and felt myself gradually shifting back towards my center. Bean napped for my entire five mile run, despite the fact he'd cried hysterically when we tried to put him down to nap beforehand. And as I ran, feet thrumming against the uneven, slightly damp pavement, I got to thinking about how having a child makes you examine your own archeology, as it were.

I see myself in my son. He's starting to be so purposeful in the ways in which he interacts with the world. He's cognizant now of cause and effect, and has discovered that HE can affect the outcome of something. He is active, curious, and ready to laugh. Yet he is also stubborn and determined. Like me as a girl, when he gets wound up, crying hysterically, water sooths him. I wonder now, as he's becoming an active participant in the world around him, what lessons I'm inadvertently teaching him, simply by being myself.

What do I affirm, or negate with my daily actions? My choice of words, the way DH and I interact, the places we go, taking Bean with us in the Bjorn or running stroller, how do these things all affect him? The tracks we make with our daily living, grow apparent in his big eyes, in his laughter, in his tears.

I once read an article by a mother who had wisely observed that her elementary aged daughter mimicked her patterns of speech and tone of voice. At the time I remember thinking how as a teacher I noticed this as well---my entire class of third graders would pick up certain mannerisms or idioms I frequently used. Like chameleons, children take on the color of their world.

I realize that my son watches me intently and often. He beams up at me when he sees me looking back, and then contentedly turns back to his toys. But he often stops to watch me adjust my hair, or sigh. He notices when I grow tense, and his body tenses too.

All this to say, after a long weekend of too much tenseness. Of fussiness and aggravation and short words, I realized something small, yet huge. I need to take space for myself regularly and often. I need moments of quiet, where I can paint Bean's bath dinosaurs, or sip a glass of wine, eat some dark chocolate and finish my book.

It feels selfish and obtuse to insist on this time. Yet without it, I find my inner landscape feels shaken like a snow globe. I scatter myself carelessly, pounce easily. And Bean absorbs this, his whole being noticing these