Tag Archives: The Beatles

It’s Complicated.

In exactly thirty days my son will turn four years old. Four. Years. Old.  And I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will be a wreck for the month of September. It’s an odd experience, being in the presence of this little boy. There is a perpetual lump in my throat and tears are always springing up out of nowhere. And even though my whole life I have been somewhat of an “emotional person” in the last four years I have learned more about the complexities of love than I ever thought possible.

And this kind of love, the love that we have for our children, it’s always complicated. For instance, the lump in my throat, is it there because there is so much that I want to say to him? Or because I am afraid I will say all the wrong things? And the tears in my eyes? I never really understood the expression “tears of joy” until my son came along. Those are what I was I was shedding four years ago when he was born and they put him in my arms for the first time and they are what I am wiping away as I try to write this.

Loving a little boy is complicated; rarely will you find yourself in circumstances where you can feel enlightened, angry, frightened, week, heartbroken, joyful, giddy and drop-dead tired all about in as much time as it takes to have a pizza delivered or build a fort out of blankets. I am heartbroken that my baby is “gone” but I am elated that I get to watch him grow up. He is in a particularly magical phase right now. There are moments when I look at him and I can clearly see the baby he was and the man that he will be. He traded in his chubby lil legs for hairy boy ones, but he still crawls into my lap every night and asks to be rocked. He asks me questions like “Where is Sydney Harbor?”  and “How did they make mummies?” but he still pronounces Yellow “Lellow” and in the morning when he crawls out of bed he likes to pretend that he is a butterfly coming out of his cocoon.

Years ago, while pushing my baby in his stroller, an older man looked down lovingly at my son, who was all swaddled up in pastel blankets and looking out at the world with these monumental brown eyes, and the man said with a smile, “It’s hard to believe one day he will grow up and break your heart.”  I am surprised that the day came so soon. In four short years he has broken my heart, mended it, grown it, and done it all over again. Who would have thought that breaking your heart would actually make it stronger? Who knew my son could teach me so much about love. Loving a little boy—it’s infinitely worth all the complications.

And, in the intrest of all that is freaking cute watch a baby sing the Beetles:

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Thank You Girl

How to wash your hands

Image by The Master Shake Signal via Flickr

“Oh, thank you!” says my three and a half-year old son. I respond with an automatic, “You’re welcome”, not even pausing to consider what Leo is thanking me for. I am trying to hover over the toilet at the burrito joint where we sometimes go when I am simply too exhausted to cook or to pick up something from the grocery store. In other words, we go there a lot. While hovering, I am reading a text from my boss about something that could have waited for business hours.  All the while I am trying to keep an eye on the door since Leo has a habit of throwing open the door before I have pulled down my skirt.

“No Momma. I was not thanking  you.”  Leo says matter- of- factly. “I was saying thank you for the paper towels.” I stop what I am doing and look in Leo’s direction. He is standing under the automated paper towel dispenser with this silly grin on his face, tickled pink that this machine just gives away paper towels.  All you have to do is put your hands under the machine and as if by magic it knows exactly what you need and gives it to you.“Momma, I didn’t know it was going to do that!” Leo squealed with glee. And he returns his hands to the same spot. “Oh, thank you very much!” he says.

An unexpected surprise has him delighted and I am probably even more so. As a mother, these are the things that bring me the most joy and it is little moments like this that make spending time with a child a worthwhile pursuit for any adult. You learn so much; rather you remember so much, about yourself and about the world that your adult heart forgot.  The paper towel dispenser has  me thinking about the unexpected things in life for which I am grateful.

I remember my Grandmother stressing to me the importance of “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Sure there is Grandma; I get ‘em all the time. It’s called coupons.   But, none the less, I had a hard time being grateful because any time something good came along I feared fate’s retribution. As if God would bless me once and then come down and smite me twice, just cus that’s how he rolls.

There are the obvious things to be grateful for, the ones mentioned in the childlike prayers I used to recite.  “Thank you for my house. . . ”  “Thank you for my family. . .” but, when put in the light of any given tragedy these everyday blessings really hit home and my thoughts shift to “Hey- I really am lucky to have a roof over my head.” Witnessing the devastation of a natural disaster or terrorist attack seems to make us all hyper-grateful. . . for a while.

I have had the pleasure of “working with the public” for many years and I am constantly afforded the opportunity to see people on both their best and absolute worst behavior. On a bad day, I may be likely to tell you that the world is full of insufferable assholes, but I actually believe that people are by in large sympathetic souls. We do care. We do want to help. Sometime we just forget to keep caring because we are so distracted with the phone calls from the boss, paying our over inflated mortgages and hovering to prevent germs because health care is just not what it should be. You know, all of our First World problems.

Then there is the type of gratitude that Leo and the paper towels taught me about; gratitude for the unexpected. I am talking about the type of magic where, just like the paper towel machine, the universe gave me just what I needed. And often times, it is exactly what I thought I did not need and most certainly did not want.

This has been true of  most of the major things in my life. Case(s) in point: Growing up I was pretty lonely and the vibe in my house was less than pleasant. I turned to reading to hide in fictional worlds.  Being a bookworm does not seem like something most teenage girls would yearn for, but my bookish tendencies would later develop into my greatest dream: writing a book.  My broken-down  family was and sometimes still is a painful burden to bear, but I realize now that it has bestowed upon me a strength of heart which I don’t know if I would be capable of otherwise.  Downright traitorous  relationships that left me blindsided and broken-hearted; they also gave me the gifts of a razor-sharp radar that can quickly point out the wrong people and a deep appreciation for true love and friendship.

The greatest unexpected blessing of all is Leo. Getting knocked up in the midst of a rocky relationship when I had not even graduated college sure did not seem magic, or like the universe giving me just what I needed. In fact I was scared shitless. But not a day goes by that I don’t thank the lord, thank my lucky stars, or thank _________ (insert any other applicable deity or entity) for my son. The ways in which he has opened my heart, mind and eyes can’t entirely be measured. Having to step up to be the person he needs me to be is the greatest gift I have ever received and it just keeps unfolding.

It seems to me that it is the pain that keeps us growing and receiving. I am by no means attempting to poo poo on peoples pain or trying to piss off people with problems. Nor am I suggesting that we go out there and throw ourselves to the wolves in order to learn a lesson or two. What I do know is that I can honestly say:  I wouldn’t change a thing; not a single thing about where I have come from and what I have been through. And that, believe me, says a lot. So I am thankful for the unexpected and the uncertain and I even try to be thankful for the unwanted. And the paper towels. Can’t forget to be thankful for the paper towels.

So what’s your “paper towel story” ? What changed your life or gave you new perspective? I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to share some of the unexpected things you are grateful for!