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Report From PIA – November 14

I was speaking to a woman the other day who is the mother of a three-month-old child. She was talking about the difficulty of getting her son to sleep, and I said, in an offhanded way, “Well, I wish when my first child was born, I knew that how we put him to bed at the beginning, was how we were going to be putting him down for several months.”

I was remembering how we jumped through hoops to keep my son asleep. We’d rock him, hold him, or I’d feed him, until he nodded of, and then when he was placed in the crib he’d wake up and start to cry. So I put a heating pad in the crib so the change from warm arms onto cold sheets wouldn’t wake him, and this worked for a while.

A couple of months later, I’d stand next to his crib, rubbing his back as he drifted off. Once it seemed that he was asleep, I’d gradually sink down beside the crib, and quietly crawl, yes crawl, out of the room so he wouldn’t know I gone.

Just recalling all of this makes me tired.

At the same time as I was thinking that I wish I’d known that I could have done it differently, I also see that these exhausting efforts were actually fine. I now know that as long as that infant was given loving attention, it didn’t really matter how we worked out the details.

Now that my children are grown, I realize that many of the things that I thought were so important back then were really just minor blips on the radar.

My conversation with this new mom came back to me today as I looked out my bedroom window and saw that the Acer rubrum has lost all of its leaves. It is almost mid-November, and the landscape looks more like winter every day. This swamp maple has quirky branches that are best appreciated now that the foliage is gone. I can see this tree’s framework, and appreciate the essence of this plant better, now that I have this seasonal perspective.

Just as it was impossible for me, as a new mother, to see the bigger picture of my children’s lives, I can’t see the underlying beauty of that maple tree until the branches are bare. Perhaps our outlook can only come from the particular season we are in.

In the foreground, the swamp maple. In the background, some other maples, oaks and pitch pines.

In the foreground, the swamp maple. In the background, some other maples, oaks and pitch pines.

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