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. 💜
When it comes to thinking about our world (almost all day every day for me), why am I so dumbfounded by my own emotion that I can only think of paragraphs to post on facebook? I seem to only go as far as composing a superficial woe-begotten mini-rant, asking rhetorical questions and rehashing sentimental platitudes. Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on myself with this observation. Paragraphs are better than nothing. Or are they just babble? Emotional purging for the sake of not much else.
So many of us think and speak and write of how we fear the world in which we're raising our children. Fear it and question it and pray for it and... dread it. It's like we just dread the future, how much more horrific it can get, the way it seems to be going.
Many of us pray and write hopeful things. And take hopeful actions. And get things done and change the world and save lives and create inventions and discoveries. I do have faith in us.
But... but but but. Something's missing. Something's terribly wrong. I know it is, because I used to think I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders needlessly - and now I think I do it with no other choice.
I suppose that's because I'm a mother now, and I feel like I just can't let myself off the hook. I feel as if a buried speck of knowledge and ability lies somewhere within me that I am not allowing to surface. If I don't light the way into that abyss with my own feelings and emotion, how will I ever unearth it?
My old philosophy of living my joy is exactly that - it's old. I don't feel pure joy anymore in this world except when I'm with my son... And that isn't fair to him. I must not use him as my therapeutic solace. I wish to build a world for him where real joy is possible - not at the expense of barbaric wars and wasted resources. No, I can't live with all this blood on my hands. That of innocent people lost in the name of a fictitious cause... "fighting terror" and all this bullshit. The fight is the terror. The FIGHT.
We stick play swords in our kids' hands and let them pretend to stab each other. We buy them plastic guns and let them shoot each other as they run through the park, shouting "I'm gonna kill you!"
I know this observation isn't a new one, and it goes right along with my usual status-paragraph complaints. I just want to reaffirm it to myself - to challenge myself to raise my son with perspective, with awareness. To speak to him realistically about the effects of violence. To not instill in him that it is something in our nature. It may have been so in the past, as a means of survival; but it need not be so now.
Unfortunately my ideal doesn't sit with the real "now." Sure there are statistics for how less violent and poverty-stricken the world is now than in the past. But that doesn't mean it ISN'T violent and poverty-stricken. And I think it's a shame that it is, considering all of our evolutionary advancements. It's a shame that huge wars are waged for the sake of questionable motives. It's a shame that there are stories and explanations and wool over everyone's eyes. It's a shame that we aren't able to solve our problems. Put as simply as I can - I think it's a damn shame.
So I am challenging myself to think differently. Think of what hasn't occurred to me yet. Think of what I've been missing.
There isn't really a simple answer. Or is there? Is it just staring me in the face, a quantum degree away? What is real power? Do we possess it? How can we harness it? How can it have any effect? Here are my rhetorical questions again. Well, Yanika. Start thinking.
They say that overthinking is useless and even dangerous... I've definitely over-thought before to the point of feeling stagnated, or to taking unnecessary action...
But to think differently isn't to think too much. It's literally that - different. It's different. What does that mean? I think it is both forgiving and holding evil accountable at the same time. It's acknowledging what's wrong, not bypassing it with explanations and theories. It's.... Oh I don't know. It's beyond words. It's a simple prayer, it's a rhythmic heartbeat. It's a dying star inside a supermassive black hole inside a supernova birthing a new star. It's truth. And indeed it's out there somewhere. All the way out there, right in here. *points to brain*
I hope I can get nearer to it. Create it if I must.
"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."
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