Photo 50 of 365: First Steps
I am thankful for my children: Part 4 of 5
This week as my oldest child turned eight and my youngest, Abigail Ruth, took her first steps, I’ve realized that one of the things that being a parent teaches you is that time is not yours. Despite repeated entreaties to hurry up when it’s time to head out the door, kids will take their time – it’s not ours. Despite my attempts to get Abby on a consistent napping schedule, she continues to take naps when she’s ready – time is not ours. And despite all wishes, children will grow up: one day Abby is an infant curling into me – her whole world; and then, seemingly the next day, she is taking her first tentative steps across the kitchen floor. Time is most definitely not mine.
In his book Bread & Water, Wine & Oil, Fr Meletios Webber writes that “the present moment is the only moment that is, in any sense, real. Moreover, in spiritual terms, the present moment is the only possible occasion in which we can meet God (or anyone else)” (20 emphasis mine). As all my children are growing up and slowly, surely, healthily, and heartbreakingly away from me, I’m realizing how very important and dog-garn difficult it is to be in the present moment. The ever-present to-do list pulls me toward the next task, out of the last minute and into the next; I ride it all the way to the end of the day and then try to count the number of real, true interactions I’ve had with my children. Did I hug each of them? Was I conscious when they were in my arms that they were real and there for that moment?
Abby is my last baby. My body cannot carry another child and I’m realizing that even if I could have more, they too would not stay babies. And so I had best be treasuring each moment I have with them wherever they are, however old they are, and in that way, though time may not be mine, perhaps the present moment can be. From there, it seems, many things are possible.
Abby, I am thankful, is fairly content to stay my baby. She shows no signs of wanting to stop breastfeeding, she still sleeps with me half the night, and she would still prefer me to hold her most of the time. I really am amazed at how quickly the last eleven months have gone. When she was first born, she didn’t show much interest in being here; she was much more content to sleep than eat. And so our first job as her parents was to literally push the food into her with syringe feedings. It was very strange to us, especially since our first three babies were such chubby things, to be rejoicing when at a month old, she started to cry when she was hungry.
She has developed into a beautiful little girl, full of laughs and mischief: she loves to play simple, joyful games and crinkles her nose and grins so that she looks like a cute little goblin child. She is just starting to make the signs for “milk” and “more”. And she can nod her head yes and no, and point to things. She is always so happy to show you her little accomplishments; in fact, I think she would be walking much further if she didn’t get so excited about it and fall down from the joy of it all. True to being fourth, she is learning to fight for what she wants, protesting loudly if something she has is taken away from her; but in general is very laid-back and content. She is also starting to play on her own a bit, exploring the various treasures in the family room toy bins during school.