Days of grace.

Lazy Sunday 1/16

Last week, the US Figure Skating Championships were in Greensboro. And a year and a half ago, for my birthday, Mike got me tickets to every single event. This was a truly amazing present, and I was super excited about it. And then I got pregnant. And I was due three weeks before the skating was supposed to start. Thanks to the combined efforts of Mike and my mom (as well as contributions from our awesome neighbors and some other friends), I was able to go to some of the events anyway. It wore me out, but I went. And we gave some of the tickets away, which made me feel good. It takes a lot of energy to do things these days, and not just because of the lack of sleep. (Maybe some of you could have predicted that, but I did not know how physically and mentally fatigued I would be.) Though it would have been fun to be without a child and able to see everything, I did see everything I would have really wanted to see.

I had not planned on going to any of the Junior events, but Mike talked me into going on Wednesday night, and Alisa was available, so we went and saw the Junior Women’s Long Program. Though I have complaints about the current scoring system that seems to have forsaken the artistry of figure skating for a whole lot of jumping (and I get it, I get that it’s a sport and has to be judged as such and that the judging system had to be changed because of the corruption. But I don’t have to like it), the words that come to mind when I think of skating are things like grace and class and beauty.

Beatlemania 1/19

During one of the warm-ups, there was one girl in particular who kept falling. A lot. When she started her free skate, Alisa and I were both concerned that it would be a bit of a bloodbath. And, in fact, when her program started, the first thing she did was fall down. And then she fell down some more. And then again. Several times. The first time, the crowd moaned sympathetically (I have to say, there is not much that is more sympathetic than a figure skating crowd). The second time, they applauded her getting up. And after that, the crowd cheered madly for her each time she got back on her feet. So much so that it started to work. She stayed on her feet (or on her skates, if you prefer) and managed a comeback of sorts. Her score was not great, but the arena was full of people cheering for her as she finished strong, showing us what she could do.

It reminded me of what I said last year about Joannie Rochette: it was as if the crowd was willing her to stay on her feet, to land those jumps. You see that sometimes, in sports, when what is going on is bigger than the moment itself. And though we say that skaters are graceful, what struck me is how full-of-grace that moment was, when the crowd sensed that, though the score is important, what matters more is the way that she sees herself and her performance. Redemption is beautiful and messy and doesn’t always turn out like we hoped. I am sure that Wednesday night didn’t turn out like she wanted. But I hope she is able to live in the redemption, because that is what I remember when I think about how she skated.

I have felt that same way since Atticus was born, as if some great crowd of witnesses was helping me to stay on my feet. Mike, of course, and my mom. Our church friends who brought food. The friend who asks me if I need anything when she’s running errands. The friend who comes every day that she can so that I have someone to talk to and in case I need an extra pair of hands. The friend who lets me cry on the phone. The friend who asked me out to coffee, the neighbors who let us have an “outing” at their house (just going next door is an outing when you have a newborn and it keeps being cold and snowy), the family members who stop by for lunch. They keep telling me that I can do this, that I am not failing, that it’s hard.

Going to visit Miss Alisa

Atticus is a month old today. Several times in the last month, I have come across the quote that When a baby is born, so is a mother. This is only true if no one is expecting the mother to come out fully formed, if she can grow into the role. This has been a month of trial and error, of taking those first halting steps towards motherhood. I am thankful for the grace that cheers me back up on my feet when I fall down.

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