Your baby is crying inconsolably. She is cranky and clingy, clingy and cranky.
The usual things that work are not working and you are not home.
Once she is home again, she starts to settle. Maybe the familiar walls and clutter soothe her. Maybe the way the familiar sunbeams befriend her transform her from an inconsolable infant into a consolable one.
Home, the one syllable word, has more weight than you think. As your feet brush against crumbs on the kitchen floor, you do not think of sweeping, but are simply grateful to be home again.
Later, when you are at the grocery store buying frozen waffles (the waffles to help you reach school by the dreaded time of 8:00 am), the cashier strikes up a conversation, the way they often do.
“Enjoy these days,” she says. You nod an “Of course,” in agreement before confiding, “I really am trying to, but there are moments when the baby is crying and I haven’t got enough sleep… ”
The other cashier joins in, “I do not miss these days,” she says shaking her head vehemently, confidently. “I do not want to have another one,” she says before casting a quick look at your baby, complimenting her, turning her back, and resuming checking out groceries.
When you’re pregnant, the cashier will look at your belly and confide, “My labor was the worst pain I ever felt in my life…” before she resumes to dutifully scan apples.
When your toddler sobs when the cashier scans items because she thinks the cashier is taking everything away from her cart, the cashier will look at your toddler and say, “Spoiled, isn’t she?” before going on to scan the toothpaste with a resolute beep.
I admire the conversations of cashiers. The way they comfortably slip into a place where they can offer unabashed advice, controversial or not. Direct. Quick. Honest.
So as you walk away to your car, you ponder over what was just shared, wondering if you agree or not. You hope that honesty can coat your tongue the way it coats theirs.
Photos below from this month:
I hear the triumphant thuds approach. Jump Jumpitty Jump.
Toddler A jumps anywhere and everywhere. At first, cautious tries to get both feet up in the air were made. Unsuccessful jumps. One footed jumps. Slowly and surely one foot joined the other and now two-footed-triumphant jumps occur frequently. What was once out of her comfort zone has now before comfortable for her.
Now she will jump gleefully on the floor, on the bed, on the sofa. I should put my feet down, my hands down, everything down and say in my sternest voice No. But I remember a year ago when she needed therapy for a stubborn neck muscle, when she had to go through a series of tests to see how well she could move. And I remember her face planted on the mat squirming uncomfortably responding with a series of cries and tears.
There are things we don’t want to do, places we don’t want to go, people we don’t want to see. But we are told to break out of our comfort zones and to seize the day type things. I disagree.
I gravitate to things that ooze comfort. Dapply sunlight. A colored lead pencil. A warm thick ball of yarn. Turmeric soaked Ramen noodles.
In life we are often reluctantly thrust into comfort-less situations. Pushed out of our comfort zones into areas which make us cringe and flinch and twist our faces into worry. In those times we should seek to create pockets of comfort.
Rather than breaking out of ones comfort zone, why not just create pockets of comfort in the areas of life in which we need it? In our tough areas, why not breathe a little deeper, pray a little harder, wrap a woolen shawl a little tighter? Then maybe our awkward efforts can flourish and we too can jump.
She asks before she climbs onto the bed and sofa, can I jump mommy? The triumphant thuds often start before I answer.
“Sometimes I feel like the bulk of my job – as a writer, as a mother, is simply to protect my time – to spew a series of No’s in order to allow Yes’s for the gifts I have been given, today.
To refuse, to accept.
No, I cannot meet you for coffee. My gift, today, is to mother.
No, I cannot attend your event. My gift, today, is to write.” ~
Be Present. Be Present. Be Present. I always hear the ‘Be Present’ phrase and have read dozens of articles about the Art of Being Present, in a smart phone age where we are always on-the-go. Being Present is the thing to do. It means putting your things to the side and sitting on the wooden floor for who-knows-how-long and playing and conversation making with a person who is a minute two year old. It means paying attention to everything and doing everything, and doing it all, or at least that’s what I made myself think. It means you must have a fresh, home cooked dinner on the table, be there for your children, do mundane household chores, read your child scores of books, and manage to get some juicy writing in. It means having your laundry in neat, little piles. Or does it?
I read this beautiful article here by Erin where it says you can be selfish, and if you have a gift, nurture it. So if you can write, then it’s okay to stay in and write. It’s okay to pore over photos and edit to your liking. Actually, it’s more than okay. Because if you don’t ever give yourself that time, then your gifts may not linger so much. I’ve heard others say writing is a muscle and if you don’t exercise those muscles, it’s so easy to get rusty, to get stale, and to have your thoughts become stagnant.
I have had some unforeseen circumstances in which lately I am at home more. Naturally, being at home more and less on the go is more relaxing. When you are always on the go, from picking up children, grocery shopping, park-going, library-visiting, drive-through-eating, you feel like your life is simply going-through the motions. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Being at home more, it’s natural to feel the I-should-be-reading-to-my-children-more, I-should-be-playing-with-her-more-on-the-wooden-floor, but there are many times when I get to sit down with my pink laptop, and write, and in those moments I feel the most present and alive and happy. Happy to let my thoughts free. In those moments, I push the guilt to the side, and just allow myself to write.
Then, those moments post writing when I am sans pink laptop, I feel more attuned to the lives of the little ones around me. More attuned to the things they say, and more likely to appreciate. More likely to ‘Be Present.’ More likely to realize that the meaning of being present is to be slow and gentle with yourself and the expectations of what you can do, to appreciate what you have done, and to look forward at what is upcoming. To not just Rinse, Wash, Repeat, but to Make Bubbles, Linger and Lather , and Soak. Soak in the goodness of it all.
“Verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.” – Quran 13:28
I am a toddler’s mother.
I can’t imagine life any different.
In the future I may look back and wonder how crazy life used to be.
Life with z is full of tantrums lately. Tantrums over tiny things- a speck of dirt in the bathtub is followed by immediate draining of the tub followed by a demand for more clean water. Now.
Today I was trying to get her to nap and she wasn’t having it. She disappeared and came back announcing:
“Baby A uth gaye” meaning “baby A woke up.”
Groggy me- “kaisay?!” meaning “how?!”
Z proudly – “Mai nai us ko Jagaya!” Meaning “I woke her!”
Me still groggy – “kaisay?!” Meaning “how?!”
Z- “mainai us ko mou ko touch kya aisay!” Meaning “I touched her face like this!” upon which Z demonstrated by taking her hand and squeezed her own cheeks hard.
While this conversation was going on, baby A had indeed woken up indignantly and was wailing away. Whereas Z was still happily walking around without remorse, and ran to wake yet another person, my mother, to share how she had indeed woken up baby A.
Two peacefully sleeping people were woken up in minutes by Z. Double sigh.
When I think of Z now, our life is so much more challenging than early 2 year old Z. Months ago Z was cooperative and malleable. Dress-wearing-Z. This almost-3-Z has to have her way and likes to cause mischief. Pert dresses be gone: polka dot leggings with striped mini shorts pulled over with mismatched outgrown tees are favored. I can’t help feeling tired when she squirts tears over tiny things.
But when I think of Z bigger, say a ten-year-old I can’t help feeling a pang, the sort of pang when I see baby A already fitting in 6 month clothes, shedding her newborn ways, and acquiring cheeks that Z never had. This pang intensifies when I think of a sober Z quietly sitting at a table, taller and lanky, doing homework.
Z is energy, giggly, cheeky, cereal-dropping-then-rubbing-into-rug, oh-so-loud, two-almost-three.
And yes, tiring, but when I think of her as a ten-year-old I just don’t know what I will do. After all, I am a toddler’s mother.
Lately Z has been obsessed with tangerines. She’ll demand that she wants one, and when I open it a little, and let her do the rest, she’ll happily commence peeling, and then when done, run off to play, and leave the poor tangerine to dry out.
So I stumbled upon this Huffington article and loved the idea.
Z will be 3 in June- time flies! This is what I may or may not miss of her being two.
Twos are a whirlwind. They leave a trail wherever they go. Crumbs, doll clothes, uncapped markers. Definition of impulsive. To say goodbye or hello to someone is an event. I love the way Z greets people excitedly. The way she meets my mother and greets her excitedly from finger tips to toes, standing on tip toe, fingers dancing, to greet her and other family members when she is excited.
The way we wash hands and then she redips her hands into the soapy suds that collect in the sink. The way she greets animals in Urdu and then English when she doesn’t get a response. “Assalamalaikum Billy!” Quickly becomes “Hi Cat!” to Urdu again “Billy Aap kya karahein?” Meaning “cat what are you doing?”
The way she speeds off in her world independently without looking back
Then needs helps and forcefully asks.
The way they scurry through the day at top speed wanting to do everything at once, barely stopping and when they do, it’s just for a quick pause
And then off they go again.
For twos whispers seem impossible, especially when asked to be quiet. Grocery store trips become adventures or ordeals where ‘HIIIII!’ is loudly chirped to everyone they see. And when a response isn’t given the greeting is spoken, higher, eyes brighten, with an unfaltering smile.
Emotions are high high high to low low low in seconds. Flying tears can swiftly become mischievous chuckles.
Whining. “That’s Mine!” Repeat Episodes of Sim Sim Hamara aka Urdu Sesame Street. The same episode over and over. The same books over and over.
Sticky fingers. Singing and babbling to oneself. Journey to Independence with pants wanted to be worn ‘Khud Se’ or by myself. And when helped, will remove aforementioned pants and do it over. Naps fought with valid 2 year old reasoning – ‘Mai nai theek se soy!’ – ‘I slept well!’
Smothering hugs given to squirmy baby sisters. Backpacks taken everywhere we go stuffed with dolls, their clothes, miniature milk bottles, and more. Pleas to bring along her doll’s car seat. Cracker crumbed car seats, rice-turned-crisp-adorned booster seats.
Quick to pout lips. Long lashed blinks, runny noses, rainbow-colored nail-polish-chipped-toes.
“It’s not that we have to quit this life one day, but it’s how many things we have to quit all at once: music, laughter,the physics of falling leaves, automobiles, holding hands,the scent of rain, the concept of subway trains… if only one could leave this life slowly!” ― Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy