July 7th, 2012-07
Not a long time….as the song goes. You know, the song. From Trooper? The song is such a Canadian classic that it seems unlikely. However, if by the time you’re reading this you have no understanding of this reference, just YouTube “We’re here for a Good Time” by Trooper. Hhhmmm….assuming of course, you have an understanding of what I mean by “just YouTube.” But I digress…
Anyway, for a woman who has spent her entire life about 60% in the future and 35% in the past, well, you can do the math on how present I generally used to be.
Have things changed? Have you taught me anything about stopping my racing mind and just being, right, here?
Let me give you three examples.
(1) My world stops when you drink out of a Sippy cup. STOPS…Now, I’m going to assume that how your drinking from a Sippy cup can stop me in my tracks is not as necessarily obvious as say, tying your shoes or saying “I love you” for the first time. So, let me explain. You were breastfed. And it was one of the most precious, meaningful, and fulfilling experiences of my life. It’s hard to fully explain in words because so much of the experience is so deeply rooted in the cells of my being that it feels indescribable. I loved the intimacy and deep relationship building that breastfeeding offered us and was secretly grateful that only I would be able to share this with you.
You were a busy baby. Even early on. You were probably only 5 months old when Daddy and I recognized that you were a baby on the move. As I write this, you are 18 months old. And you are still a baby on the move (ok, toddler on the move…but you know me, wanting to hold on to your “baby-ness” as long as humanly possible). You have never been one to sit on our laps for too long, or cuddle for too long, or stay put for too long!! However, when we breastfed, I could hold you. When we breastfed, I could feel the warmth of your body against mine. When we breastfed, we would have extended periods of eye contact. When we breastfed, you would lay your hand against my chest. When we breastfed, we were as connected as humanly possible.
When you were 10 months old, I got sick. Pneumonia. I didn’t even have the energy to hold you. I spent several days in my bedroom and had very limited contact with you. It was not long before I was having trouble producing milk and was unable to feed you. We tried a few times once I was feeling well enough but it just didn’t work. FAR before I was ready to, we ceased our breastfeeding relationship. This was probably secretly to others’ relief. I just might have been one of THOSE mothers who had a toddler who could, God forbid, actually ask for “milkies!” But alas, it was not meant to be. And just like that, that part of our relationship was done. Cold turkey. And I grieved the loss.
I needed some time to move past the loss of physical connection and renegotiation of our relationship. And then, one day, I stopped. I stopped living in the past long enough to recognize something. Your face. You make the same face when you drink from your Sippy cup as you did when you breastfed. And I stopped and took it all in. Your eyes half shut, head tilted back, cheeks slowly puffing in and out, in and out. Ahhhh. That sweet face. And to this day, when you drink from your Sippy cup, my world stops. It stops because of the feelings that looking at you produces. It stops, also, because I am well aware of the clock ticking. It’s only a matter of time before you lay the Sippy cup down and the opportunity for me to relive that face will be gone. I’ve learned now, that those moments will simply be replaced with equally as wonderful if not even better moments. However, until that day comes, my world stops, my heart aches, the memories come flooding in and I am present when you are drinking from that Sippy cup.
(2) Have I mentioned that you never sit still for very long? Right….I’ve covered that already. So, I’m thinking we’re doing exceptionally well when you force yourself to sit for 5 whole minutes in order to eat supper with us. This can be a really challenging time for families and because of that, some choose to feed their toddler first, and eat dinner as a family after the toddler has gone to bed (have I mentioned that I can’t stand having to refer to you as toddler rather than baby? Right…covered that one too!!). Anyway, we’ve chosen to eat as a family. Which means that we have a total of 5-10 minutes where you will be focused on eating your dinner. Shortly after the 5-10 minute mark, you begin frantically signing “all done” and give us about .5 seconds to get you out of the booster seat (right….booster seat, because about 5 months ago you decided that you were too cool for the high chair). After you frantically sign that you are “all done” you generally want to come sit (otherwise known as stand or play) on me for a period of time while I try to finish my supper. During that time, you usually get food all over my clothes, put your hands in my food, try to eat my food, and try to steal my utensils, bang the utensils on my plate, and generally make a mess. I can tell by the look on Daddy’s face that he thinks that I shouldn’t allow such “tomfoolery” (I’ve never heard Daddy use the word tomfoolery, but it seems like the kind of word that Daddy would use. Why do I think that? Because he uses the words “soda cracker” and “slacks.” Enough said). And to be honest, prior to having you in my life, I may very well have watched the very scene that plays out in our home every night at supper with judgment and confusion. However, when you are on my lap, I am not thinking about the stain that will inevitably be on my shirt or your grimy little fingers infecting my food with who knows what. Honest to God, I’m thinking that if I blink my eye and force you off my lap, you’ll be 16 years old. And refusing to even come near me let alone wanting to sit on my lap. So sit on my lap baby boy. Stick your fingers in my food, on my face and in my hair. Because I’m going to relish it. Here, right now. For as long as you want nothing more than to come sit on my lap after you are done your supper, my lap will be open to you.
(3) In the last week or so, your verbal language skills have flourished. You’ve added cracker, poo poo, pool, blue, green, yummy, no way, day, Monday and Gaga (Grandma) to your already awesome repertoire. Now, the acquisition of a new word is momentous enough. And again, it grounds me to the here and now. But the BEST part of you acquiring these new words is the look on your face the first few times that you try that new word. You beam with pride. You cock your head to the side, as a huge grin spreads across your face. You so obviously and unabashedly feel your emotions and watching you experience that feeling is grounding. The pride I feel when you are brave enough to try a new word is almost indescribable. And let’s be real. If the indescribable feeling of pride I feel as you discover spoken language isn’t reason enough to be present, the fact that you repeat most of what we say these days is. It’s not lost on me that whenever I (accidentally) let out a “shit,” in your presence, you invariably let out your own “shhhh” shortly thereafter. And yes, with that same silly look of pride on your face. Yikes!
So thank you, my little monkey. For reminding me of where I need to be, and to be honest, where I want to be. Most moments, I’m here, with you, taking you in. (Yes, most moments. You gotta give me a little break here. I’m not perfect and I’m human. Some days, after hearing an insistent and monotone “uh, uh, uh, uh, uh” while you point around the room that lasts for about 20 minutes because I am completely incapable of figuring out what you need, I do kinda wish that I was anywhere but in the present moment.) But take a drink from that damn Sippy cup, sit on my lap for two minutes or beam with pride after trying a new word, and I’ll be right back….in the here and now…with you….my sweet, sweet boy.