I’ve been so lazy and unmotivated to post on Instagram, overwhelmed by the infinite photos of others and even of those in my own phone. However, while running into some emotional battles with 5-year-old Geo as we adjust to our new family dynamic with Baby Delphi (he totally loves her but is dealing with the fact that he’s no longer the center of our attention), I went into my feed and scrolled all the way to the bottom, back when my little Geo was a baby.
In tears I looked through all the photos and videos and read my captions. There was so much positivity and soulfulness in them. Why have I lost the motivation to literally take five minutes to write a few sentences and share a memorable photo? Have five years of my adult life in my thirties made me jaded? I used to even include hashtags, but stopped when I began reading about child trafficking... that’s when it started to change.
Not like I was oblivious to the darkness in the world before, but the things I’ve discovered about the exploitation and abuse of children shattered what faith I had in humanity’s inherent goodness; more so than the atrocities of war or poverty, of which I was painfully aware since my own childhood.
Despite my reluctance to include the vulnerable and private colors of my life on the internet canvas, if I hadn’t posted all those photos of Geo as a baby and toddler, I wouldn’t have those accessible snippets of memories now - comforting me in a moment of panic because my once-tiny-baby is now a grown boy with big feelings... still just as much in need of affection, security, reassurance, playtime, being seen and heard, positively disciplined (when I don't succumb to the urge to yell), cuddled, held, etc. Sure the photos are in my digital backup files and some I’ve printed, gifted, framed, etc, and I did make a photo book of Geo’s first year that we’ll always treasure - but the Instagram feed that those words and images comprise is something I treasure as well.
Let’s see if this instinct sticks and I start posting more often. It’s so great to interact with friends too, and keeping my account private helps my paranoia about internet predators.
Our children are so precious and divine. Of course we want to share their milestones and magical everyday moments. There’s so much of the past few years with Geo that I haven’t shared, and while it’s not about sharing it to prove it happened, it is about documenting a unique and special journey, and inviting people I care about to witness it.
A new positivity and soulfulness needs to rise within me, it cannot be reclaimed from the past. I’ll start with gratitude for two healthy pregnancies and births of my children, a wonderful man who loves us, our families who support us, and the gorgeous and relatively safe location where we live. Uncountable blessings despite various struggles. Perspective. Empathy. And visualizing a safer and healthier world for us all to share...
Give my often-ignored but perhaps making-a-comback Instagram a follow: https://www.instagram.com/nikagram/
Today was a momentous day in our household. For the past five years, with the exception of date nights, working late, or traveling, I have sung Geo to sleep with Russian lullabies. Soviet-era songs from cartoons, folk music, and some I made up myself. Every bedtime. Holding him when he was a baby, then sitting on his bed or laying down hugging him, or lately bouncing on the yoga ball because of my giant belly... Always until he was all the way asleep. Sometimes getting frustrated if it took too long or if I walked out of the room and heard him whimper for me to come back.
I pushed through the frustration because of an instinctual pull to stick it out with him, knowing I’ll never have those first-years-of-life bonding opportunities again. Despite criticism that I coddle him or paranoia that I’m setting him up for unrealistic expectations of attachment. Still I believed that this time together was too precious to force to end sooner than needed. I didn’t know when it would, or how I would even surmount it, but trusted that it would flow. And with his baby sister almost here, the time has revealed itself.
She’ll be getting the bulk of the lullabies now... and he will be falling asleep more without me. He’s had plenty of practice with his dad and with my mom, but it’s a new chapter for me to watch him fall asleep while I’m home and not singing to him. I borrowed a CD player from his grandmother, put on a bedtime story, and he was out in fifteen minutes. Granted, I lay beside him and hugged him, but plan to wean him (and myself) off of that gradually. I might be able to still sit with him and nurse the baby while we listen to stories and songs, we’ll see what works. The important thing is he did totally fine tonight without my voice lulling him, and I owe a lot of it to his preschool routine too, where they lay down for their naps with recorded stories, so he’s already used to it.
When shaking my head about not figuring this out sooner, I realized that I take pride in having sung to him for five years. Feels like I’ve given him a part of my soul, a part of my innate essence and love of the Russian language. Even a love of the sentimental old Soviet idealism that I grew up with, a nuance I can’t quite explain, but something I feel in my heart every time I repeat the same kind and innocent words that comprise the poetry of the twentieth century creatives of my birthplace... if you know of Crocodile Gena or Kot Leopold you might know what I mean...
Something along the lines of:
“If you are kind,
But if you’re the opposite,
If you’re singing songs,
everything’s more joyful.
But if it’s the opposite,
Indeed I find the flow of life more joyful when there’s music in it. I hope my little son will always keep music in his heart. 💜
My dear cousin Oleg. Moved to America and changed his mind in one week. All his things on our living room floor, and postal tape wrapping loudly while the cat, little baby Bella, snuck around sniffing the looming change. Rather, un-change. A return. A good decision I think. California is paradise, and yet.
Last night I set my intention to go to Odessa this year. The Ukraine. Oleg being back in Kiev and Katya my father's granddaughter (not to mention his daughter, my half-sister, Sveta) being in Odessa. And me, being here in California. Now. But wanting so deeply to be there, at some point quite soon. Within this year. It's what I will be working towards. I do not want to lose sight of this goal. Don't want to let myself down on this one, as I have so many times before in my life.
Oleg showed us some photos he took in Odessa.... our old street... Dad said it looked the same. I want to go there. Just to stand on that ground. Walk the Potemkin steps and breathe the Black Sea air. There is something there for me, even though I know that we cannot escape anywhere or find anything anywhere other than within the heart.... but oh I've so deeply probed my heart, and oh how I know that a lot of what I find in it is... Odessa. My personal epic odyssey.
I don't have many regrets, but the major one is never visiting my grandparents when they were still alive. I really wish I had.
It's like I didn't understand how valuable and sacred it is to share space with family members, especially older ones who have so much to teach us.
Oh my deep deep painful sigh.
I owe it to them now to at least go visit their grave sites. And for my sake, to breathe the air over in that land. True it's not the same place we left. But no place stays the same. Neither do we individuals. It's the emotion of the place, the emotion of the human being. My heart. My soul and eyes want to see. Home.
And I know here in California is home... and I can't just turn on it. I never would, even if I left more permanently, it would always live in my heart too. Probably haunting as much as Odessa now haunts me. Or so I choose it to be. I choose the haunting, I welcome it, want it. It gives me depth. And a shape to the mystery.
Again, I keep thinking that I'd lived on that land a long time... my ancestors, my self in previous incarnations, however you word it. I feel it pulling me like the moon pulls the tide. Strong but far. Having more influence than one can be aware of. Sweetly tormenting.
New affirmation: I will go to Odessa this year.
The amazing Opera Theater in Odessa, The Ukraine.
"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."
-Rainer Maria Rilke
December... 12.20 Almost solstice, and now to write the deep gratitude of having a mother like I do. A father like I do. I am unique because of them, they have given me infinite riches because they taught me how to be creative, and how to appreciate beauty.
12.23 Solstice came and went, days will get longer now. A cut on my right thumb makes it difficult to type. Sunshine pours in. I am on borrowed time in a borrowed space. Much reflection and turmoil swim around my thought bank, I long to go home, be with family, make art, keep it simple. My heart is not as big as I thought, or, it is, of course it is, but it is still bruised and recovering from the previous love(s) that I shattered... Now this new love offers itself so graciously, but again at such a price, I cannot stand the stress any longer. I am healthier living at home, at peace.
the child within, the distance set, a fractal light, a beaming life
from start to end, no frames, no shade.
hustling birth, to then be judgement-worth, spending, saving, making out of nothing,
simplicity's a forgotten virtue?
It's strange, I get this cold, dark shadow of a doubt upon my soul.
It only lasts a moment, or a little more, But always with the resolution nearing,
Just close enough to mine some meaning,and be gone.
"Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it's really all about."
Last.fm Music Profile
Alex Chemer Photography (my father)
Vera Rey Fine Art