Hi guys. Here we are for day #9 of Blogtober! Yay. You’re right if you think I seem a little “flattened.” Not in the best mood right now! But you know how trials bring insight and epiphany… so those crazy days do come with their silver lining. And let. me. tell. you. – – –
Today has been “one of those days.”
My son, now entering into full blown toddlerhood, spent the entire morning doing EVERY. SINGLE. THING. he knows he shouldn’t do. My “bebê bonzinho” (good little baby) turned junior menace, flashing those infamous, mischievous grins that set my heart thumping and illicit that crescendoing string of, “no… Noo… NO!…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” as I bolt toward whatever thing is about to get be obliterated. Why?! Why me??? (if I may whine for just a sec.).
Well… It could be the fact that he’s teething, or that I started weaning him since he doesn’t eat enough if he’s allowed “boobs unlimited.” Or, really, any combination of factors yet mysterious to my frazzled brain. But one thing is clear: He wants my attention. He’s got some separation anxiety, and he wants to be held nonstop. Heaven forbid I put him down for a moment to…
- wash a few dishes.
- take a shower.
- pee… ALONE.
- mop up the orange juice that was gleefully sprinkled all over the floor because it’s SO MUCH FUN to shake the sippy cup!!!
- clean up the cracker crumb trail. Because a toddler does not simply sit, contentedly, while eating a snack. No! That would be bad form! He must wander… THROUGH THE ENTIRE APARTMENT. And then when he’s eaten his fill, he must pound and pound with his little fist until the rest of that slobber-softened cracker turns into a gooey mound; the proverbial “pot of gold” at the end of the path.
Deep breaths. Breathe innnnnn…. breathe outttttt…. OK.
It’s been “one of those days.”
From the comfort of my lap, Menasheh is pining for autonomy. This is a confusing phase for both of us. Every day is an endless drama of, “Hold me! No, put me down! No, hold meeeeee! Maa maaaaaam maaaaaaaaaaaaammmmm!!!!!!!” He’s ready to venture out and discover the world, but he’s obsessed with making sure I’ll still be available when he needs me. I’ve definitely had my share of Brazilians telling me, “aproveita agora” – enjoy it now. I know, I know, some day my little Menasheh will become a teenager and bristle at the thought of hugging his Mom. But lets be real! If I said I love every second of this clingy, pulling-pushing phase, I’d be living in denial of some legitimate frustration. I’m pining for autonomy right along with my precious toddler!
That said, I try my best to answer his constant bids for attention and enjoy our cuddle marathons. I know, from experience, that we don’t remember all of the temporary frustrations. Once the season has passed, we just remember the good times! All of these hours holding and rocking my son will be reframed in my mind and I’ll probably give anything to go back and hold my sweet baby boy again and rock him for an hour… or three.
When I remember these months, I won’t remember how my back ached, or that my hair was always a mess, or that the house was a toy-strewn disaster. Knowing how I will long for these moments later in life, I try my best to savor them now. It would be such a shame to miss out on some of the best things life has to offer because they didn’t come at the most convenient time. Love is not convenient. Relationships don’t exist for our convenience. It’s now or never. Either I embrace who and what happens in the moment or forever long for what I couldn’t appreciate when given the chance.
As I write one-handed on my phone, sending this post to myself in a whatsapp message and juggling my, “Hold me but touch-me-not” toddler with the other arm, I’m at peace with the fact that two conflicting desires gnaw at me. With my whole heart, I just want to hold Menasheh a little longer, and with my whole heart, I can’t wait to see him grow up.
It’s funny how we want to be needed but we don’t want to be needed too much. We want the confidence boost without the sacrifice. But God doesn’t give us children so we can feel gratified! There’s nothing like raising a child to expose motives and purge every last trace of selfishness. Every day, Menasheh reminds me that love doesn’t exist to please me. He doesn’t exist to make me feel like a good person. I exist to love, and by loving him, I grow into a better person.
I’ve also realized there is no love more pure than that of a child. They trust unconditionally and don’t hide their desire for us. No one will ever desire and love you more openly than a child. As I ponder the deeper truths highlighted on a day like today, it dawns on me – I don’t think we ever lose that intense, all-consuming need to be held and loved. We just learn to hide it. And perhaps our desire to be needed but not needed too much is a protective shell for a deeper desire: the desire to love, accompanied by the fear of loving too much. From toddlerhood to adolescence, the growing pains of life test our sense of security and harden us. We can start to feel like the need for connection and love leave us too vulnerable. But at our core, we remain that precious, defenceless baby who depends on love to stay alive and grow.
All of this comes around to the lightbulb moment for me: In opening my heart to acknowledge, accept, and answer Menasheh’s dependance and love, I acknowledge the depth of my own needs and overcome the fear of loving.