Grownup Navajo

Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Category: Motherhood

Spring Awakening

 

Since my son was born, I have held a deep, omnipresent longing for rest. Usually, this is a feeling I can sense as soon as my eyes peel open. Today was different. I woke to my playful babe, smiling and poking at my breast ready to be nourished at dawn. His twinkling eyes and loving smile greeted me with blissful joy. We laid in our cocoon. Snuggling and kissing one another with gentle pecks. Waking up to him each day is an indescribable blessing.

 

As we greeted the day and slowly left our bubble, I was bombarded with the frenzy of fear engulfing the world at the state of the pandemic. This week has been one full of heaviness as we carry the worry about family members and friends. I have been working to hold concerns and maintain commitment to nurturing this beautiful soul.

 

As my husband and I run our own businesses and organizations, what is clear is how privileged we are to get to spend time with our son. What is new for us lately is our son is a walking, running baby ready to explore the world. At times keeping up with emails and him is a challenge. If I am being honest, often it is easier to manage the unpredictability of client emails than it is to be ready for what our love bug will dare to climb, eat and want beyond his wingspan.

 

In all, I am thankful for the gift of being home with him. Thankful we get to share our days. Blessed to know he will see his parents dive passionately into their work for community and culture. On days like today, where I feel so vulnerable, it is hard to not have a space to hide from my love bug’s watchful eye as I process.

 

As we played on our living room floor, I pretended to be the horsey as my love pretended to be the rodeo star riding into the arena for his event, I was overcome by emotion. It was all consuming, the desire, need and want to keep his precious self safe. Being a parent I often hold my humanity and my son’s purity and connection to the Holy Ones in hand and heart.

 

I am regularly consumed by the immense responsibility to this being. All the ways I need to keep him safe pour into my mind. While my son rode his “horse”, he realized my face changed. Tears streaming down my cheeks he leaned close to my face and kissed my lips. Then laughed and yelled as if to say “giddy-up! Keep going.” I did.

 

On our afternoon walk, we went to see the family’s horses in the coral. My love is fascinated by these creatures. Feeling brave now to pet their noses, he reaches out and then yips a giggle when his hand touches their coarse hair.

 

As we returned from our adventure, I realized the bright green bulbing leaves on the trees around our neighborhood. I recalled the sound of thunder returning in the morning with the rain that left the air feeling fresh and clean. I shared stories with him about how the return of thunder meant the earth was waking up from sleep. Pointing to the trees with blooming leaves, I shared how our beloved cottonwood trees would soon be returning too.

 

While this child explores the world, I realized that I am seeing the world new in getting to share it with him. We are two souls who have been gifted with each other’s presence and even though these times are uncertain, what we know is the impenetrable love we have for one another. My love has wisdom of ancestors in him, medicine of futures and pasts – how grateful am I to learn from such a powerful teacher the lesson of trust, noticing life cycles and love. How important it is to hear this teacher’s voice and listen to the message even when it’s the simple reminder to, “Giddy-up. Keep going.”

 

I Tell Navajo Stories…Like Grandma

jaclyn roessel maternity

Photo by Hannah Manuelito

 

I come from an open-arms people and a family who shares. I have built a career sharing my thoughts, poems, snapshots of my life and myself. But last year, I felt a call to shift into a new way of being. 2018 was a year filled with many life changes both personal and professional. While, I was focused on navigating, reflecting and rising to the challenge of being more in the moment, I was called to go inward and protect…myself.

 
Now feeling able and willing, I am trying to answer this question, “how do you begin to tell a story you are still living out?” I am not sure. Though I do know I was never a linear storyteller. I pride myself on my ability, or gift, depending on the tale, to tell story like my late nalí asdzaan (paternal grandmother). She would weave strands of background info, context and opinion together with care and ease. While I am not the master she was at this, I do enjoy this circular nature of sharing. This is something my husband tells me often, I tell Navajo stories. By this he means, I share stories which unfold sometimes leaving him confused until the end. I loved to think of my nalí asdzaan’s stories as ones you had to earn. You were tested to listen because sometimes they were long and often complex. She would share with you characters and updates in multiple threads drawing family trees and maps connecting communities across the rez.

 
And what of my story? Where do I begin?

 
When my nalí asdzaan passed, one of the most vivid memories I have of that night is waking up after receiving the news she left us gasping for air asking myself what would I do on my wedding day and the day I gave birth?

 
In the darkness of those early morning hours, the thought of facing each event without her, physically hurt my heart. But what I know now is I didn’t have to worry because I would feel her. She would be there, and so would my late nalí hastiin (paternal grandfather). I would feel their power charge through the day I saw my husband Warren ride into our homestead on a horse for our wedding. I would feel the energy of my ancestors come to bless our beginning as husband and wife, in the powerful winds that carried sands that whipped across the land.

 
She would be with me as I carried our first born in my body. I would hear her in the wisdom my mother shared with me during my pregnancy. In the advice my mother-in-law passed on to me. I would feel her in my sister’s hands as she massaged my body during labor. I would hear her words in the prayers my brother shared while we were in the delivery room. Even in the pain of this moment I could feel the sweet like honey presence – I could feel her with me. I could feel her blessings at work in my life.

 
While I do not know how to tell this story, I recognize why I wanted to keep things close. Last year meant so much to me because I was able to hold it with both hands, an open mind and heart overflowing with gratitude for getting to experience it all. My husband and I marinated in each transition – engagement, new job, news of new life, wedding and birth. Having emerged from our fourth trimester I feel ready to slowly release parts of this story, as an offering. I hope in beginning to tell it, the parts that were hard can begin to heal. This part of my story – the trauma – is hard for me to articulate now but I know with time, even that will begin to melt away like snow.

 
What is powerful is knowing because I am still living this, I don’t have to share everything now. I want the telling of this story to be savored. In the same way, this revealed itself to us – day by day, minute by minute waiting for the arrival our baby being…our son.