On Sunday at church Kate was sitting on Tyler's lap. She was on a giggle fest and he, of course, was loving it, cracking up because she was cracking up and I was sitting on the sidelines enjoying it all while also shooting Tyler keep-her-quieter-you're-egging-her-on looks, as Annie lay asleep in my lap.
It was a beautiful moment followed up with this thought: "Those two have a special bond - they giggle like madmen, are both big teases, and they have way too much fun together and..." Then I thought, "Wait! Kate and I (capital "i") have a special bond! She is crazy about me! Wait!" And as I went down the line of every family member, I could see: "That's her spiritual gift! To make everyone feel like they are the most important person in the world!" She says just the right things with all the right feelings combined with tight squeezes around your neck and kisses and random, "Mama, I love you so much." or other random, "Thank you so much, mama."
That has been her way since she was TINY! I can still remember her frequent, unprompted, "Tay-too, mama"s as I gave her milk or food or wrapped her in a blanket. She felt gratitude in each of those simple moments and expressed it freely - I could, and still do!, feel her sincerity, appreciation. Making a sacrifice for another is effortless for her. She came out of me that way - sweet and snuggly and funny, a natural class clown.
There was another part of her though, a sad part. Even as a baby she would scream for endless hours of the day and night without anyone or anything able to console her. No amount of rocking, bouncing, or feeding helped. We had a running joke when she was content, "Don't look at her and don't talk about her." As soon as anyone made a peep about her she would start wailing all over again.
Sometimes Tyler would come home from work, sling her tiny body completely over his shoulder and go about his business, hands-free, helping with dinner, playing with Annie, cleaning up the house, sitting in the kitchen entryway chatting with me while I washed dishes. She was content there - but only with him.
She is naturally very mindful - present, can never be rushed - overflowing with unique qualities of easily withholding judgment and spreading endless amounts of love, allowing her to make each person with her feel they are the most important person in the world. She is filled to the brim with gifts and talents and love and gratitude - an old soul in a tiny, orange body.
And, sometimes she also gets sad. Like when she melted down yesterday.
***I wrote the next part last night but it didn't feel complete. This morning I added the backstory (the above) which adds to the story of our lives, dynamics that will evolve, grow, change, over time, and I don't want to miss a detail.***
This one had an epic meltdown today. When she gets into a rage there is no coercing, no easing her out. She goes to the depths. All I can do is leave her alone, and only she can bring herself back. Her tantrums don’t happen often, but when they do they are increasingly worse: stronger, louder, heavier, sadder.
I’m kind of a patient person. I handle them OK, until I’m in public and she loses it. Then all I think about is how everyone starring might be thinking about I should parent. All I can think about is what they are thinking and then I have to work reeeaallllyyy hard to ask myself, “If there were no one looking, watching, listening what would I do? What would I say?” I have to pretend she and I are completely alone.
Today it was a man sweeping his concrete - he said nothing, did nothing, kept sweeping around us, as I sat on his lawn trying to keep Kate from running away (This was the first time she has melted down by a busy street and I couldn’t keep her locked in the car. She kept screaming and escaping and running.) So then I had to hold her, which is worse, because she screams louder trying to tear herself from my arms. There is no talking, no reasoning, no anything.
So I automatically think the worst: Does he think I should spank her into submission? Show her who’s boss? Make her learn that feeling nothing is better than feeling sad and frustrated and out of control?
Then my heart races, tears well up, and as I sit holding my screaming-bloody-murder child as “neutrally” as I can, my mind wanders to all the babies who don’t have someone holding them while they hurt. Then it goes to other scary places of what this scenario will look like in a few years. Who or what will she run to?
And I wait. I wait for my brain to think of something, anything to do next. I wait for her to come to. I wait for the seconds that feel like hours. I wait for a passerby to give a dirty look or say something that stings.
I don't remember how I got her back in the car alone while a friend loaded my stuff for me.
And then, finally, I heard a sobbing whimper, “Mommy? Mommy?” I turned and saw her arms stretched out wide, big, blue eyes billowed up and overflowing with alligator tears. My sweet babe letting me come to the rescue.
My first thought is always the same: “Wow - we made it through another one.”
I quickly scooped her up and she squeezed my neck and I tried to wrap as much of me around her as I could and she cried and cried and all I could say was, “I love my beautiful Goosie so much. I’m so sorry you are sad.”
I stood rocking her back and forth, rubbing her back and waiting for her to breathe steadily again. I kissed her wet cheeks, peacefully buckled her in her seat, and drove away sweaty, my heart still pounding out of my chest, my own tears about to pour out in buckets. Tears for me, tears for her, tears for all the babies and all the mommies who are sad.
And we drove to daddy’s work because, “Mommy? I want to go see daddy? Can we go see daddy at his wohhrk?”
“Of course, Goosie.”
It was dark. I pushed this Portra 800 to some crazy limits. #blessfilm