When in doubt....the answer is: Water

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
Loran Eisley, The Immense Journey, 1957

This may seem like strange advice, but I have discovered that when I am having challenges with motherhood, the answer often has to do with water.

Water is mysterious.  It is universal.  Every living thing needs water.
It is clear, with no color.  It has no real flavor, but is refreshing and nourishing when we put it in our bodies.  Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, and it is life sustaining.  We cannot hold it in our hands, but we feel clean and relaxed when we bathe in it.

D.H. Lawrence described water as
"H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one,
but there is also a third thing, that makes water and nobody knows what that is."

That mysterious third element of water is what is so helpful in its use in parenting.  Whether it is wonderment, utility, comfort, or the coolness or warmth of it, water is the solution to many parenting problems.

Bored toddler?  This is usually solved by some water play in the sink or with their water table out on the patio.  They can play for hours with some cups and some sort of container filled with water! 

I also tend to suggest a bathtime when we have an hour to kill and nothing else to do.  Put in some bubbles and Barbie dolls, some cups and foam letters, and they play until their fingers wrinkle up.  This is the perfect solution to the cabin fever that strikes in the few hours just before dinner time some days, when you need a quick and easy (and productive!) activity.

Or, fill a cup with some water and give the children paint brushes.  Whether it is on the bricks of your house's exterior, or on the chalkboard inside, they will love to paint with water, watch it dry, and then do it over again and again.  Amazing.

Fussy baby?  A bath will do wonders.  The simple act of allowing them to splash their tiny feet around in warm water is so soothing and familiar that it often resets an episode of colic.
I also recommend Gripe Water.  We call it a miracle in a bottle. 

Sick child?  A warm bath can loosen congestion, alleviate achy bodies, and the steam from a shower can calm croup. A cool bath can help to bring down a fever.

Even the sounds of water will calm.  Running a bath, or playing sounds of a rainstorm or ocean waves will often lull a new baby into a deeper and more sustained sleep.

Fussy Mama?  I've always been a bath kind of a girl. 
A hot bath without someone knocking on the door makes me a whole new woman again. 
Plus, I have some of my best ideas in there! 

If you are lucky enough to live near a river, lake or the ocean, even a mini-visit there for a lunch hour can be a soul vacation.

Robert Henri said that the sea
"has some potent power to make us think things we like to think."   

Henry David Thoreau said that
"it is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." 

Lastly, whether you are becoming a mother for the first time or the last time, water is an important part of pregnancy.  Drink a lot of water to stay off lightheadedness and dehydration.  Let warm water run on your lower back to help with muscle fatigue.  During the last months of pregnancy, a warm shower in the middle of the night was often the only thing that would allow me to sleep.  Many women find laboring in a warm bath or shower, or having a waterbirth is comforting for both themselves and their baby. 

When I was large and uncomfortable at the end of my pregnancies, a dip in the ocean or a pool would make me feel free, weightless, mobile again.  It takes the pressure off your body and eases up your joints. 

And most specially, it made me feel at one with my baby, like we were experiencing the same sensation at the same time.

Next time you need help in parenthood, try turning to water.
You just might find the answer you need.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It's always our self we find in the sea.
~e.e. cummings



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