It happens like this; I’m dreaming of my childhood home in Sonoma, ‘The Valley of the Moon’, and a large bear that is pacing through the yard. I watch it nuzzle a cat with its snout and I go out to it, even though my brain is warning me against it.
The bear doesn’t attack. She sits down in front of me. We speak the same language. She needs me as much as I should probably fear her. Equal measures of love and power pass between us.
And then Joaquin stirs.
He climbs up on my chest. Wraps his arms around my neck and begins to cry. It is the kind of cry that I remember. I was once that small and open to the world. His feelings are hurt because his nose is blocked and it makes no sense to him. Why would his nose betray him?
I whisper and coo. Dan stirs and lifts him from my arms. I curl around a large pillow and fall back to sleep.
I wander through an amusement park made out of people’s deepest fears. I choose a temple built into the wall of a mountain. I’m not sure why. There seems to be something terrifying in the smoky, chanting, charismatic labyrinth of ancient religion. So I wander in, open to the experience. By the end of it, I realize I’m not scared, just really cold and a little disappointed by the experience.
Joaquin is rolling over my body again. I wake to being blanketless. I try to hold on to my dreams as I curl him into my body and whisper, “Hush, hush…it’s okay.”
By morning, I was exhausted.
By morning, I was exhausted and Sol was anxious and obsessing and pacing.
By morning, I needed an hour, maybe two of silence.
I needed to write out the worlds still withdrawing like a tide from my body.
I needed to write and then do something that made my muscles ache and my skin sweat.
I needed to remember:
Here I am.
In this world.
But that is not motherhood of three children.
So I moved through a day of listening to the nonstop discussions of my firstborn and the moment when he stopped, looked at me, realized I was wilting beneath the fierce rays of his mind, he said, “I don’t usually say so much, I’m just so excited to be with you. I can talk to you, so I want to keep talking to you. But I don’t usually do this. I usually shrug or say nothing. So this isn’t normal.”
I was able to say, “I’m glad, sweetie. I want to hear your thoughts. Just be patient with me. I get a little tired.”
“I know,” he said.
And I did what I could for the hours that followed.
I was a mother until I couldn’t be anything anymore.
So now I’m up at midnight because the quiet has returned to my mind.
A pocket of wildness all my own that I can run through, unencumbered for these stolen moments. These moments that will lead me back to the quiet and fierce magic that is the exhalation and inhalation of my sleeping family.
I will dream of wild animals and ancient temples. Or other landscapes not yet imagined.
I will be kicked in the face, nuzzled, pushed and pulled through sleep and broken stories.
Every time I wake from sleep, I’ll feel the warmth of my family surrounding me, mourn the future days when my sons and daughter don’t snuggle into me with absolute trust.
I’ll try to still the restlessness in all of us.
I’ll sleep and dream and tomorrow it will begin again.