Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Night Muse

"It isn't the things that are happening to us that cause us to suffer, it's what we say to ourselves about the things that are happening."
"The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new."

~Pema Chodron

It's not that I'm suffering.

It's more that this bit of wisdom brought to light, yet again, the knowing that we make our own truth. We attach our own meaning. We develop our own stories. And we can swear by them...or we can release them and be truly free. Liberating, in a way. And terrifying. Because if we let our stories go; the things that bind us and restrict us; the framework through which we look upon the world...if we let it go and see things without the warping of that lens...well then, what might that look like?

Un. Be. Liev. Able.

One guess as to what this is.

That's right.

Yeh. That was my reaction, too.

I walk in to Ally's room after her hour and fifteen minute "nap" and am presented with her proudly extended hands, covered in some brown stuff. My eyes travel to the wall behind her. They drift back to her hands. Return to the wall. To her hands. A quick damage check to her mouth...clean. By the grace of God, she managed to not eat something she's not supposed to.

"What did you do? What?" Mouth agape in disbelief, all I can manage is a whisper. Ally's pride and mile-wide grin are starting to fade. I must have made some strange noises because Ari was drawn to Ally's room out of curiosity.

"What, Mom?" he asks.

All I could manage was a strangled, "Look. At her wall. Hands."

"What is that?" he asks, squinting.

"Poop! It's poop! She painted with her poop!" Finally, my vocabulary returns to me.

Thoroughly grossed out, Ari retreats to his room.

By this time, Ally is beginning to look a little if she's starting to realize that I'm not a fan of her unique choice of medium. And she begins to truly grasp the idea as I gingerly hoist her out of the crib and carry her to the tub repeating, "Ally, we don't do that. NO poop on the walls. No. That's not okay." I strip her down and wash her hands and she begins to cry as if her heart is breaking. While I empathize with her disappointed and confusion, I'm still wondering if I should make a two-year-old clean her own poop off a wall.

Her hands now clean, I move South, fully expecting a big swash of poop up the back of her diaper and all over her shirt. Hm. A little poop on shirt and outside of diaper. NO poop on inside of diaper. What the?! How can that be...? And then realization dawns. She must haven taken it directly from the source as it was coming out. That then begs the question...did she poop expressly for her creative urges today or was it more of an "opportunity knocks" kind of a thing?

Now that the artiste is clean and clothed, we stand together before her mural and have a serious talk to get the point fully embedded. I have a few doubts as to how embedded it could possibly be but send her off to play anyhow and face down The Wall.

Did I mention our walls are textured?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Growing Up

Since turning two a couple weeks ago, Ally has adopted the phrase "Me Too!". And she uses it continuously. So continuously, in fact, that even Ari has memorized the accompanying phrase, "Yes, Ally, you too." It's an interesting thing to quickly a second child catches on to the intricacies of life. How to use the bathroom, turn on lights, set the table, use a stool to get what she needs, water plants, get dressed (and undressed), serve herself, pour pretend tea and make the appropriate teatime conversation. Before she turned two, Ally was already doing most of these things. Meanwhile, my four year old still complains about dressing himself, feeding himself and washing his hands...but that's another blog post.

Yesterday I sat with a friend, the sun warm on our backs as we watched our kids play soccer, and I silently ruminated while we talked about how quickly our children seem to be growing. My quiet contemplation revolved around the maturity I seem to have gained in the past four years of motherhood. And I was surprised. Shocked, in fact. Shocked to realize that I've matured and become a better mother and also shocked that I noticed.

No longer am I longing for them to grow up so I can "get my life back" or so Sascha and I can sleep in on the weekends (although both would be nice someday). Instead, I am acutely aware of the passage of time. Maybe because Ally is my last child and she has now, officially, left the baby stage...and I know I won't get to experience that again until my own children someday have children. Unbelievably, I mourn this. With tears in my eyes, I think of the baby things that are done: the sloppy baby kisses, the first step excitement, the quiet moments of nursing. Two months ago, Ally loved to lay on my belly and rest her face against mine. She doesn't do that anymore.

And then I think of the Ari things that are almost done: mispronounced words, the jokes that don't make any sense, singing songs while sitting on the potty, mismatched clothes and wild hair, the grand ideas, the snuggles, the innocence. Just the other day he made his first angry self-derisive comment, "Fine! I'll just shut up then!" In shock and panic, I wondered, "Where did he get that? Did he get that from me?" We don't talk to each other that way in this house. We just don't. I could attribute it to playground learnings or the Looney Tunes he's been watching lately but the fact remains that he's growing up. This morning, he rolled his eyes at Sascha - in a fun way - but still, it happened. That innocence is slowly dropping away. But then he climbs into bed with us and rubs his nose against ours and I remember that it's still there. They still want their mommy. They still shout "Daddy!" when Sascha walks in the door. It's still there. For now.

Though tender, I am extremely grateful for this realization...for the new awareness I have. It means I'm embracing this time with at least the intention of being fully present during these days of chaos and noise and messes everywhere. It makes me a more patient mother. It makes me really see them when I look into their crystal eyes.

Have you ever stopped to really see a child when you look in their eyes?

Their soul lights up.