Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"I'm like 12 or 16 or something"

Taran wants to be any age but the age he's at. I get it. It's frustrating to constantly be told that you are too young or small for the world around you. And for the boy who wants to dive into everything face first and experience it to the hilt, this is even more so. I have a friend who had her second child a year before Cally was born. She talked about a certain sadness she felt with each developmental milestone her second-born reached because she knew this was her last time experiencing these moments. And while I found Taran's babyhood so magical and amazing at times, I didn't relate. I thought about the sleep deprivation, the nursing difficulties, the black box crying jags that I had no idea how to end. 

And then I had Cally girl and I relived the radiant pleasure of the first laugh, lying down to snuggle and nurse at the morning wake-up, and the daily joy and wonder that an infant has as they experience the world and you experience it with them. And now I know on a very visceral level where she is coming from - when every precious, stunning moment of babydom with my last baby is slipping rapidly through my fingers. Suddenly it seems like they are both plummeting towards growing up so much faster than I am ready for. 

Cally will have a restless, fussy, sleepless week and then BAM, she'll wake up one morning and she can do five new things I've never seen her do before. 

And without saying a word, she's so communicative. 

I never cease to be amazed by how expressive a baby can be with not a single word, where I on the other hand find myself hardly saying anything with 500 words. But she really, really wants to talk with us and she absolutely delights when we imitate her sounds. It becomes this awesome almost jam session back and forth. 

And she's wanting so badly to crawl too. She army crawls with crazy determination, dragging her body ponderously (but every day more quickly) across the room. Suddenly, she'll pause for a moment, pop up onto her knees, and rock back and forth like a ship ready to blast into space. Then she'll lose momentum like a deflated balloon, her legs slowly sliding out behind her. Any day though now. Better get those baby gates back up.

Although Taran is far from babyhood, he has not left the developmental leaps behind him. The other day he pulled on a pair of pants in the morning that fit just fine the week before and suddenly they were visibly too small. How does that happen?! When he can hardly keep up with his growing body, or the things he's learning to do, I can understand his rush to grow. But still, I keep telling him that 3.5 is an amazing age, that he should savor every second and be happy with where he is in the moment. He just stares at me blankly. Another boring lecture from Mama.

As for me, I really do mean it, 3 is an amazing age. He is full of imagination and creativity and the boundary between fantasy and reality is [mostly] delightfully fuzzy (when he's convinced at 3 am - and 4 am - and 5 am - that the door is magical, growing bigger by the moment, and sucking him across the room, I'm less than thrilled). But overall, it's wonderful. 

Here, let me highlight...

A family friend recently sent him a little white bunny hand-puppet that we dubbed Kai. It was instant love. Not replace-K Bear love, but close. One day Taran started to make pretend crying sounds and told me that Kai was sad, when I asked why, he said that Kai missed his Mama. So we talked about her maybe being at work and said she would come home soon. After a children's book title, we named her Kira-Kira (which means "sparkly" in Japanese). So a few weeks later at a Christmas craft market when I found a large rabbit hand puppet, I knew it had to be on the Christmas present roster. As Joe led Taran away from the puppet maker's table, I stealthily payed for her and stowed her below the stroller. On the eve of the first day of December, I took a photograph of Kira-Kira.  Over the next few weeks, in a kind of travelogue advent calendar, Joe and I photoshopped her into a series of email "postcards" from around the world where Kira-Kira documented her globe hopping from Japan to the US via numerous countries along the way and described for Taran and Kai all her adventures. At the close of each letter, she let them both know she would see them on Christmas morning. When Christmas morning came, I told Taran that I had received a note from Kira-Kira that she would be arriving sometime around 9 am. As Joe distracted him, I ran out front, placed Kira-Kira on the front stoop, and then flew back in through the open garage, camera in hand. Sadly the first few shots where totally overexposed - the ones where he's walking slowly down the stairs with saucer eyes and both hands covering his o-shaped mouth in wonder. His reaction. Magic.

A few months back he gave up naps, unless he's deeply exhausted. I still do a very short "rest" period, for both of our sanities, but this usually constitutes him snuggling up in bed with some books and music for thirty minutes until I come get him for afternoon snack. Last week, after having woken up three times in the middle of the night crying because it wasn't morning yet and time to play, he was cooked (have I mentioned that Cally is about 10x more likely to sleep through the night than her older brother?!). Fifteen minutes into his rest period, he suddenly got radio silent on the monitor. You'd think I'd be thrilled, but honestly, his wake-ups from naps are so rough they aren't even worth it. He gets very disoriented, starts to sob, and sometimes doesn't really stop for as long as two hours. So after 45 minutes of sleep, I went to check on him. With the sunlight streaming through the window, Pete Seeger singing in the background, and his buddies piled all around him, he was passed out cold. I couldn't resist. I ran downstairs to grab my camera. And despite getting closer, and closer, and closer, with the camera clicking away loudly the whole time, he never woke up. He looked so small and beautiful to me and my whole chest almost siezed with an enormous feeling of tenderness and love. I know I can't stop the clock, but at least with my camera, I can help etch this moment into my brain. 

I know, here I am again, lamenting the rapid passage of time. But before you think I am a Sartre-following existentialist, let me in my defense say that I am also so excited for where they are heading in their growth.

As I watch them grow... wonder where they'll go.... I see the potential for deep friendship, deep connection, deep love. 

I wonder how their mutual affection might push each other to morph into ever more radiant and refined versions of themselves and what they might conquer together. This beautiful "what if "makes me less afraid to hurtle forward with them. To be along for the journey. And I don't know about Cally girl yet, but I hope in Taran's rush to eat life up, he doesn't get to the end of the plate before having relished every mouthful. My son. He has passion enough to pass around to ignite the whole family, and maybe that is a gift he can offer Cally girl as she grows. 

And I bet my little eating machine of a girl will remind him to chew on the fat a little more. And savor the moment at 3, at 12, at 16, at 66. 

And everyday, both my children remind me this most beautiful lesson of all, as so eloquently put by Marshall Davis Jones: "Two hearts were never meant to beat alone, and it is when we are connected that we are most alive". (I couldn't attach the video here, so you'll have to click on his name to view. Grrr)


  1. This is so beautifully written with a mother's love for her children! Love it!


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    1. I wanted it to last so much longer. Reading your blog is my favorite thing to do now and listening to Marshall Jones just reinforced for me what I know you already know and are imparting to those magnificent little love sponges each day in ways that will imbue them with all the wonder they need. Nothing to rue, each moment is a new miracle. Just revel, only revel.