When I snapped this image a few weeks ago it was immediately special to me. Samantha and Aubrin take a break high in the North Cascades of Washington state with many miles behind them and many more to go. The larches in the background are transitioning from green to gold. Their presence alone speaks to our high elevation and their color signify the cooler temperatures and colorful natural displays of our favorite season. The photo embodies everything that we want and love. A mother Introduces her daughter to the mountains and authentic happiness ensues. I hope Aubrin inherits our love of the outdoors and I hope she cherishes photos like this from back ‘when it all began.’ But right now, we are in the midst of a big transition.
Once in a while our posts are a bit more personal. There are a few reasons for this. One is that I truly feel that personal growth can emerge through vulnerability. I also believe in authenticity, for better or for worse. Putting our experience into words is also a great way to allow our friends and family on the East Coast to sneak a peek at how we are doing. Lastly, this blog was started as, and will always be first and foremost, a digital scrapbook record of our journey. I already find myself revisiting posts from years ago and being brought to the verge of tears as I relive a particular story or moment. THIS ONE comes to mind.
Most recently we wrote about the birth of Aubrin Sage and the subsequent transition from the hospital to the tiny house. In that instance I was writing in hindsight; having already focused all of my energy on the very personal task at hand for those weeks before circling back to the keyboard in an attempt to honor the experience through writing.
Science tells us that memory is malleable. That recollection can be distorted and molded based on our current attitudes, knowledge and mood. On top of that, particular emotions can be fleeting. In a world of carefully constructed trigger headlines and endless debate, the subtleties of pure happiness or true sadness can get overshadowed and lost in the many different shades of frustration and anger which seem to be the increasingly dominant emotions for many people. So while we may evolve and feel differently about an event or moment in time I find it important to capture the initial and immediate essence felt during these sometimes pivotal experiences.
This time I am writing partially in anticipation. Today Samantha’s maternity leave ended and she returned to work. Today she returned to share her knowledge, kindness and passion for quality care with her patients who have undoubtedly missed her over the last six months. And while returning to an appreciative group of patients and doing what she loves doesn’t sound like such a bad gig, it will inevitably be overshadowed by the other half of the equation; leaving Aubrin behind.
At this same time I am transitioning into a mostly(?) work-from/stay-at-[tiny]home father. Some would consider this decision a sacrifice; a forfeiture of career advancement necessary to stay relevant in the industry. I consider it a privilege.
We have crept towards this date with a facade of calm confidence and are approaching this transition like so many things before. We have a firm belief that things will always work out in the end and an understanding that there are limits to preparation; the rest will be dealt with on the fly, as a team. It is a strategy that has worked out every time prior, thanks to unwavering commitment and trust in each other.
It has not been the easiest morning as we both tried to hide the sadness from one another to no avail. I could hear her begin to sniffle before she even closed the door behind her; an occurance that triggered break downs in both of us as she drove away. Aubrin sat silently in my arms, presumably unphased. I cried for the first time since Aubrin was born, triggered mostly by the heartbreaking sight of Samantha in tears. I am sure this will become a distant memory, but right now, it is tough.
What I really want to say most in this post is that I am proud of you, Samantha. I have watched with admiration as you gracefully transitioned from pregnancy, through labor and delivery and into motherhood. To watch you proudly carry Aubrin into the mountains while you silently heal from the process that brought her into the world is incredible. Your intuition is astonishing and has made parenting seem effortless. On the contrary I recognize and am thankful for the ungodly amount of patience you possess. Your determination to overcome the physical pain and emotional strain that comes with learning to and being successful at breastfeeding (especially with-in minutes and hours of giving birth) is miraculous.
For a while I used the term ‘primary care provider’ when describing my role after you return to work. I have come to realize that is not the case. For biological reasons and other, your role in this relationship and family dynamic is irreplaceable and far from ‘secondary.’ Even when you are away, your body is working hard to produce sustenance for our daughter, requiring you to take time out of your schedule to collect and save it so that I can continue to give her the best possible nutrition when you are away. And for that too, I am grateful.
Aubrin Sage is a dream come true, but this journey is not without compromise and I am appreciative beyond the words I vocalize not often enough.
We have shared so many unforgettable moments in the last six months as a young family. From a three week journey across the United States to our first time experiencing a total solar eclipse and the Aurora Borealis. We have hiked high into the mountains and deep into slot canyons; silently under the stars and laughing in the snow. We have flown in airplanes and slept in cars, dipped in hot springs and kissed the ocean. We have traveled further, dreamed bigger and seen more than I ever could have imagined in Aubrin’s first 6 months of life; yet it is the less grand moments that have been the most amazing. The incredible joy that comes with seeing her first intentional smile and hearing the pure happiness in her laugh. Watching her eyes track the movement of a bird through the still forest. Observing her fascination with light and shadow on the tent wall. Seeing first hand the rapid evolution of her cognitive ability and how it fuels her advancing explorations.
We have experienced what feels like a lifetime in the span of one summer and now it feels like it has come to an end. I know this is hard for you. I know you have dreaded this day. I know it seems unfair, but I want to make a few promises to you.
I am here for you. I am here for Aubrin. I am more prepared than I have led on and will be the best father and husband I can. I am proud of you. I am amazed by you. I love you. You are an incredible mother and you are doing important work and I will always support you in all endeavors you wish to pursue. You may not feel confident today, and that is okay. You may cry at your desk this week, and that is expected. But I promise I will be waiting for you, ready to be leaned on. Aubrin will be too; as smiley and lovingly as ever.
The gallery below contains some of my favorite photos of you and Aubrin and should serve as a reminder of how beautiful and bad ass you are.
You mean the world to me. I will see you soon and all will be right again.❤