Category Archives: Motherhood

Parenting. Letting Go. And a Letter to my Son.

I am 2 years into this kind of parenting (yes I count the 9 months of being pregnant because it’s about time someone starts counting that) and I finally know what it’s all about. Bold statement, huh? I can feel the moms of 3+ grown adults rolling their eyes from here. Bear with me…or quit reading. Your call.

Parenting is one giant lesson, experience, invitation in Letting Go. Letting Go of preconceived notions about yourself, and about your child. Letting Go of exterior pressure, messages, and societal insults. Letting Go of expectation, mom guilt (that bitch), five year plans, and spontaneous summer vacations (at least for a few years). And the worst one? Parenting is one giant lesson, experience, invitation in Letting Go of your child.

I am of the mindset that our children do not belong to us.

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.”
–Kahlil Gibran

This poem in full is posted on our fridge, and we’ve held to its truths that resonated with us long before we had our son. But since I am being bold here anyway, I’ll go ahead and say that Kahlil Gibran has left out an important piece. I do not believe my son belongs to me. And yet, I cannot escape the deep seeded truth — those ones you feel in the depths of your gut — the ones that you feel so sure of that you don’t care who disagrees because regardless of exterior pressure, messages, and societal insults, they are your truth. And that alone is enough. I do not believe my son belongs to me. But, I know that I belong to my son. Continue reading

To My Husband, On Father’s Day

It’s hard, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life. I hear glimpses of the toll it’s taking on you — the deep sigh you breathe when our son calls out for attention just as we have curled up in bed. The slight smirk you give when he and I stand in the window and wave goodbye to you every single weekday morning. I know that smirk. It means your heart is somehow breaking and healing at the same time. I hear it in your apologies for forgetting to put an extra snack in the diaper bag so that he would survive the car ride peacefully. Or maybe it’s so I can survive the car ride peacefully. I forgot which one since I was too busy convincing myself I was not going to survive the car ride with a snackless baby.

It’s hard, isn’t it? To wake up a father, without a father, on Father’s Day. Hell, it’s hard to wake up a father, without a father, on Monday. Or Thursday. I see glimpses of the toll it’s taking on you — the pause it brings when our son kisses the framed picture of you and your parents. Each time you muster up the words “that’s my dad, your Grandpa Jim” and you leave it at that. And I stand back watching your heart break and heal at the same time. Grief is never without complication. And yet you seem to hold it — the grief, the complication — so seamlessly. As if, maybe, life and grief have always coexisted for you.

It’s hard, isn’t it? To wake up next to a woman who you once knew so fully, so wholly and watch her deteriorate and rebuild herself over and over and over again as she learns how to be a mother. And a wife. And a woman. I wonder if she felt as much a stranger to you as she did to me. I feel the toll it’s taking on you — the helplessness you feel as her body and mind break open to bring new life to your family. I feel the burden you carry as you desperately try to do more in attempts to match her sacrifice.

It’s hard, isn’t it? How we live in a world of competition and comparison and yet, sacrifice and suffering and joy cannot be compared. Nor can they be separated.

It is good, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life. I hear glimpses of the unhinged bliss you hold — the laughing till we cry as we watch and re-watch videos of our son trying to swing his little golf club and hit the ball. The mutterings of ‘god he is so cute’ as we pull our mattress into his room for the night so we can be closer to him. I sometimes think you are actually telling God how cute our child is, since we have both agreed that we aren’t so sure about what God does and doesn’t know these days. I hear your bliss in his laughter. And somehow in his tears, too. You have always been a safe place for tears.

It is good, isn’t it? To not have known a safe place and yet to have somehow created one for yourself. And for your son. To wake up a father, to a son. To show up a father, to a son. Again and again and again. I see glimpses of the joy it gives you when he mumbles ‘Dada’, as if he is knighting you as a good man. It’s as if you knew you always had a father in you even if you didn’t have a father fathering you. I see the redemption unfold in games of chase, running through sprinklers, and unwavering calmness in the face of a meltdown (mine or the 15 month olds).

It is good, isn’t it? To partner with your best friend and watch new parts of her unfold as she becomes a mother, even if the new parts are slightly more rageful than you would prefer. I think you’ve always known she had a fire inside. I feel the deep love you carry in the way you still carry me — whether it’s to bed or through depression. And now, I feel the deep love you carry in the way you’ve come to let me go — to give me space to be alone, write, rest, or drive to the ocean. Carrying is never without letting go. And yet you seem to live in their tension so seamlessly. As if life, maybe, has always been about holding on and letting go for you.

It is hard, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life.
It is good, isn’t it? Parenting, partnering, life.
I fear that it will always be both.
I also fear that we might be made for both.

But I am grateful to do both — the hard and the good; the parenting, partnering, life — with you.

And our son? He might not be able to talk much, but you can see it, feel it, hear it in his entire being — he is grateful, too.

Love,
Your Wife

In This Moment

I wrote this out as a go-to for those moments in motherhood where I feel overwhelmed. The moments where I convince myself that I’m actually on the verge of a mid-life crisis, when really I’m only on the verge of my period.

I’ll let you know if this letter helps….next month. 

In This Moment…

I will remember that you are little and your feelings are big.
I will remember that I have big feelings too.

I will remember that you are capable of having bad days, bad moods; more than human moments and less than ideal moments.
I will remember that I am too.

I will remember that you may be having a hard time but you are not giving me a hard time.
I will remember that a hard time doesn’t mean a hard life.

I will remember what you do not know — like how to manage time and your emotions, and why naps are important.
And I will remember what you do know — like kisses, and safety, and that I am your person. 

I will remember that you the world is too big and not big enough for you – that your curiosity is your strength.
I will remember that letting go is my lesson.

I will remember that you know no other way than being close to me. 
And.
I will remember that it is okay for me to step away for a moment to allow myself to come back more open for you for more moments.
I will remember that your closeness is a gift.

I will remember that in your crying there is still breath.
I will remember to breathe.

I will remember that you are learning.
I will remember that I am too.

I will remember that your wordless sounds and hard to hear tears are your only voice.
I will remember to listen.
And.
I will remember that I have words and they must be soft.

I will remember that your innocence does not know guilt; only grace.
I will remember to accept grace. 

I will remember that it is my job to teach you that you are lovable and capable and kind and important and valuable.
I will remember that it is my job to teach you that you are good enough. 
And.
I will remember that I am all of those, too. 


Ocean.

Some women transition seemingly seamlessly into motherhood. I was not one of those women. I could list the reasons why we struggled, why I struggled, but there is no sense in reasoning. Because regardless of reason, depression exists. Postpartum depression exists. And regardless of reason, it is real. But too often, women, mamas, suffer silently. And shame lives in the silence. So in refusing to be quieted, in refusing to get too comfortable with shame, I share this post. I wrote this when Elden was about five months old – my husband took the day off work and my dear friend drove me to the ocean for a few hours. I was in the throws of awestruck love, hormone changes, and the harsh reality of depression. 

Guess what?
Good mothers can be depressed.
Brutality can exist alongside bliss. 

I could share where I am now, to offer hope, to offer some sentimentality about the light at the end of the tunnel, but this post isn’t about where I am now. This post is about where I was then. This post is simultaneously about the tunnel and the truth that the light isn’t at the end of it – the light is wherever you are in the tunnel. Because after depression has its way, the light remains. Because after depression has its way, you remain.

Because you are the light.

Lets bring ourselves, our light, together to end the stigma, the pressure, the shame that mothers carry. We already know a mother’s arms are too full.

Mamasté,
Noelle René

Ocean

I came to the ocean
to see if I could find her
I know she loves the ocean
the steady power. the fierce calm. the moving stillness.
the repetition. the in and out. the filling and emptying.
the building and crashing
over. and over. and over.
again

I came to the ocean
to witness my beached self
large. heavy. desperate to be.
thrown back
nudged back
washed back
to water
to safety

Continue reading

Soapbox.

Stop it. Stop it right now. I am actually begging you. Stop telling moms (or parents in general) to “just wait…”

Just wait till he’s a teenager.
Just wait till he doesn’t like you.
Just wait till he’s talking back.
Just wait till he’s walking.
Just wait till he goes to school.
Just wait till he has his first heartbreak.
Just wait…

Stop it. Stop it right now. I am actually begging you.

While I know the intention is good and maybe what you’re wanting me to wait for is good — (AND maybe the intention is actually an invitation to share some of your own story) — but if I got caught up in just waiting, I would miss just being.

And my god, all I want to do is be.

I don’t want to conjure up ideas of who my son might be. I want to be with who he is. With what he’s doing now. With how his laughter sounds now. With how he feels and smells and moves now. I don’t want to create and cross and burn bridges before they are even built. I want to walk slowly along the water, holding his hand for as long as he wants to hold mine, and discover and build bridges together. Cross them, together. Burn them, together. Continue reading