Before I personally entered into the reproductive chain all children looked the same to me. Yes, they might come in larger or smaller packages or have different hair or skin tones but mostly a child was a sometimes enchanting mass of squirreliness.
On the way to the hospital to birth Uno I confessed to my husband, “I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell her apart from any other baby that’s there. What if they get her confused? There are mix-ups at the hospital all the time!”
I don’t remember what he said to me, but within a few hours I met her face to face and I realized I wouldn’t be able to confuse her with another child. She was mine.
I’ve just finished a staring contest with our eight-month-old son. It was his “death stare,” the one where the rest of his face is completely slack but his eyes drill into you like laser beams. His intense scrutiny helped me realize something:
He’s memorizing my face. At this point in his life I am pretty close to his everything, comfort, food source, care taker. His every desire is to know me.
I bet by now he knows the timbre of my voice, the slightest whiff of my scent, how my skin feels against his hands, I guess he can even hear me coming by the pace of my stride. He knows me.
On the reverse, I know him. I know the curvature of his cheek, where his hair cowlicks, how his little toe curls into his foot. I know the dimples on his knees and cheeks, how kissing him in just that right spot makes him giggle, and that he is fascinated by everything that crinkles (and ceiling fans, of course).
I file this knowledge in my head next to what I know about our girls, that I can tell them apart by listening to them breathe, what excites them, their favorite foods.
But I realized today – I haven’t been memorizing my older children with the same intentionality as I have been learning our new baby – or how I used to soak up every bit of trivia about them.
I have been living beside them instead of with them.
Ann Voskamp recommends you hug your child at least as many times a day as you feed them, and that at that moment they are pushing you to your very last nerve, that is the moment you draw very nearest to the child. There is so much wisdom in those recommendations!
I don’t like realizing I used to memorize my children and be enchanted by their distinctions. I want to commit to parenting in the present, right now.
An idea worth thinking about – and considering for change. Am I the only parent who has faced this? How do you stay intentional?