Ritual is a funny thing. We humans are instinctually drawn to it, whether we are religious or not; a series of small or large repetitive actions that signal a beginning, an end, or a transition; one of the many ways we make sense out of the chaos that is life. Ritual is a cousin to tradition, which includes music, dance, food and other cultural artifacts which we wear like so much heritage. However, something about ritual brings tradition and culture under one roof and co-mingles them for the greatest human satisfaction and peace. "In the classic text The Sacred and the Profane, famed historian of religion Mircea Eliade observes that even moderns who proclaim themselves residents of a completely profane world are still unconsciously nourished by the memory of the sacred." (Goodreads) And thus rituals are born.
It begins at the beginning, with every two hour feedings - breast, bottle, repeat, swaddle, lullaby, repeat, pump. Maybe it begins earlier than that - morning walks with Lily, the Weimeraner: good morning sun, good morning Ross Island Bridge, good morning mommy's island, words whispered to my unborn sons, before I even knew they were sons; words that started our day, as a very pregnant me and a very elegant, very neurotic Lily, stepped out from our South Waterfront Condo building, each morning. Ritual.
Our June ritual began with an envelope, in a rose garden, on a day, I'd come to dred, having lost my father a week prior to this calendar celebration in 2012. The ritual that connotes barbecue, backyard games and greeting cards, which makes said greeting card designers and the merchants who peddle them, happy and wealthy. It was this calendar day celebration, in 2015, which also happened to be Summer Solstice, that year - the only reason I had chosen to be at the Rose Garden at 9:34 a.m. in the first place - that began the ritual of the Howards 2.0 spending Father's Day morning at the Rose Garden, every year.
Ritual for this family of three is also about our tribe, our village of witnesses, our guardians, who stand along side me holding space for these two little men. I followed an India traditional post-partum ritual and lined up six amazing woman in my life and each had one week to stay in the guest room and do all the things - clean, coordinate meal train, laundry, load and empty dishwasher - and because I had twins they also helped me diaper and swaddle one while I nursed the other. It was a real blessing. It started with a sister who bought a whiteboard to track feedings and eliminations; the friends who are nurses, who made sure I took my post-op vitals and meds like clockwork; my best friend who arrived in time for the two week pediatrician visit; a mother who came back, after having been here only a few weeks earlier for the birth, to help me understand that no amount of scheduling would make twin babies agree to go to sleep at the same time; a Portland GrandMom who arrived to bring laughter and joy to a less than ideal sleep situation; and the acupuncturist, a dear friend who got the brunt of the post-partum-lack-of-sleep-grumpy-ass-me right before Thanksgiving, when I kicked everyone to the curb in order for our new family of three to start creating some rituals of our own.
Ritual's morph and change over time and with circumstances. A morning ritual of turning on the kettle, before taking the dog out for a run, so a sleeping partner can sleep a little longer before beginning his morning ritual of pouring freshly ground coffee into a french press, then steeping it with hot water from the aforementioned kettle, for just the right amount of time, is one that I often conjured, when I was still waking the boys with a bottle (then a sippy cup) of warm milk each morning. After I had stumbled around the house, first turning on the burner for the "warming pot" on the stove, then opening the curtains, turning on All Classical, showering, dressing, I would arrive at their bedroom door, with a cheerful, "good morning" to start their day. They started asking for cold milk around 27 months old, then recently started foregoing the milk, entirely, so they could enjoy their milk with breakfast. Ritual.
The envelope, that first Father's Day at the Rose Garden, contained ultra sound photos that revealed the babies' genders. So it was on that Father's Day, in 2015, that I waddled out of the Portland International Rose Garden's Shakespeare Garden, tears streaming down my face because I'd just found out I was going to be a mother of sons. I remember how acutely I felt my dad's presence in that moment - l actually heard him laughing his ass off. And because my dad loved a great view and because after the one time he'd visited me in Portland, it was one of the locations he would frequently ask about, the Howards 2.0 Father's Day ritual at the Rose Garden has become a celebration of Daddy, his grandsons and their single mother, courageous (and perhaps stupid) enough to be both mother and father to her sons.
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Now also wife. Holder of space. Maker of place. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mitch. These are my thoughts, reflections, ideas and random observations about raising twin sons.
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