Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Giving Tree

“Mama, you’re my Giving Tree”,  he says as he gives an awkward 8 year-old-lean-to-hug.

Heart melts.

Instant guilt sets in for all of the times I have added swear words under my breath to his name today.  How could I?  How could I forget that this little boy, trying so hard to navigate through the world, successful and unsuccessful, is MY little boy. I used to dress him in baby blue sleepers and secretly cry over his crib with gratitude.  I turned off phones so I wouldn’t be interrupted from our quiet time.  I took photos of his toes. And kept locks of his hair. 

Why is it so hard for me to just be in the moment with him, to take an extra 3 minutes to ooh and ahhh over his latest reptile discovery on the web? When did adoration turn into annoyance?

I know, I’m horrible.

I would be actually scared if I didn’t think that this was all part of the plan.  God made babies irresistible, so we wouldn’t leave them after that whole labor experience, right?  So we would get up every twenty minutes, shuffle our Mad Hatter selves back to the nursing chair. 

I LOVED having new babies, and did everything in my power to shut off the rest of the world.  To immerse completely.  Perhaps not all that healthy, but I was fully aware of its impermanent nature. This intense beginning has certainly caused some growing pains with each new delivery.

Every 18 months to 2 years, we have greeted a new life and while I snuggle into bed with my new bundle, I also mourn for the time I had with the recently displaced, “baby”.  And I’m an adult.  I can only imagine the confusion that sets in for a toddler. And the guilt sets in. Heavy.   

How can I be enough for all of them? And my husband? And myself?  And the hard truth was: I can’t.  I can’t continue with the same intensity as we grow.  But when did it become a pain in the ass?  Seriously? When did my interactions with him morph from sweet to combative?

In our house I think it happened when I wasn’t looking.  Literally.  I remember nursing my newborn little girl and having an acute feeling of it being “too quiet”.  Upstairs I find two naked boys (age2, 4) standing on their bed, peeing into a laundry basket of stuffed animals.  Shower. 

Dear God.

 I swear, they would hear me unbuckle that industrial nursing bra, and run for the hills with scissors and knives.  Ok, they didn’t have weapons, but they still regressed to cavemen tactics. There was toothpaste drawing. Butter sticks as snacks.  Legos in the washing machine. Tadpoles in the freezer. Lots of public nudity.

The cavemen were crying out for attention. “Ahhhhh”. 

And I became the CaveMom.  React to the battle cry.  Hide the weaponry. Provide the nuts and berries. Insist on pelt washing. You know….survival skills.

The bar was set at: SURVIVE. Avoid visits to the ER and from the Fire Department. A little voice said, “Master the basics….”  : but this seemed daunting. Of course we did make it through the basics, but I’m afraid that CaveMom didn’t have a lot of extra patience for the quiet magic we used to find in everyday.

 And the vicious circle continued:

Caveman: “SEE me.  See me do this mess”.

Cavemom: “I’m busy keeping you alive…..stop making it harder….”.

And you forget about the baby blue sleepers and the little train onesies. The animal pelt seems to have been tattooed all over their chubby little bodies.

But, there are still quiet moments by the fire, if you will.  When their hair has a little less spike.  Their fatigued bodies are expired from the day’s battles. And they still have little, albeit muddy, toes. I know those toes. They are just taking bigger steps now. 

A Giving Tree. 

I would want nothing more than to be the tree they keep coming back to.  A place of constant belonging and safety. A place where they can be selfish, and naughty.  A place where they can make mistakes and be forgiven. A place where they can retreat and find provisions.  I guess we were warned it was going to be painful. So, I will gather my branches and straighten my trunk.  And weather the cavemen.

They are worth every storm.

Wait  a minute, is that an axe behind his back????

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