The first moment that I locked eyes with my firstborn baby, I knew that life was forever changed. I didn’t know how, and I couldn’t put it into words, this great knowledge that I was bestowed in an instant. But I knew it was a pretty substantial shift. Before kids, I walked through a lot of my life like a dream, clinging to expectations, mourning the passing of time, waiting for the future. That inclination is still here, appearing amidst the tense words, the late nights rocking a sweaty, teething baby, the epic temper tantrums, the times of suffering, the times of stress. But my kids are helping me to slow down, to unplug, to flow with the current of life, even when it’s going a little too fast (or slow!). As soon as I let go of my need to control, I realize that things are simply as they are, and I should indulge in each moment as it comes, feeling it fully, being fully here.
I started trying something crazy lately. Really revolutionary, I think. (I jest). I’ve started being present with my kids when I’m with them. Not counting down the moments until they go to sleep, not feeling irritated by their needs, not rushing around trying to figure out ways for them to entertain themselves. Not half listening to them and half checking my phone. When I’m with them, I try to BE WITH them.
My kids are helping me to wake up to life itself, to really feel the comfortable, radiating bliss of a soft, completely relaxed, warm baby draped across my chest in slumber without the itchy reminder that my to-do list is waiting. To stop and listen to my three year old reading me a book – his strange genius as he puts together the pieces of our language, of our culture, of our family. My children are constantly extending their hands in offering to me, inviting me to drink in the vibrancy of life itself with them. It’s up to me to choose to engage.
Children change who we are in a fundamental way. My place in the universe has been made apparent and clear; I relate to the universe in an entirely new way since having children. My children teach me about living in the moment, about experiencing bliss and unadulterated joy as well as wild and captivating emotional swings. My kids lean into the unknown with wide-eyed wonder, no need to define the indefinable, just to experience it like a reed swaying in the breeze or water flowing over smooth stones. Kids are who they are, they haven’t yet learned, or been urged, to mask their authentic selves, they are energy and light and potential, waiting to open and bloom. If I am still and open, I experience this vivacity with them. I witness the delight of discovering your toes for the first time, an inward smile of triumph and awe creeping across chubby cheeks. Or a boy screaming in surprise and elation each time a big green grasshopper springs into the blue sky. Quiet requests for hugs in the corners of busy days, the baby’s enthusiasm first thing in the morning when he pushes his drooly, smiling face into mine.
My children are refining me. They hold up a mirror to my face and some days I don’t like what I see, and this encourages me to change, to evolve, to grow. And they are offering me the chance to see the world through their open, engaging, and whimsical minds. To become engulfed in the wonder and mystery and vastness of the universe and yet to stop and appreciate even the smallest of swirly-shelled snails that comes wandering across my path.