I sit here writing and reflecting, on a 12 hour flight from Shanghai back to the West Coast, hopeful to land in Los Angeles within a few short minutes.
And this little image comes to mind.
He spiked a fever a few days after I left. Like burning up crazy hot.
And I have to admit, it made my heart skip with an extra beat of affection.
I know, I’m cruel and heartless. Empathy is not a super power of mine.
But what made my mama heart flutter was not his suffering, but our connection. [A friend once told me that a baby can spike a fever for no reason other than separation from his attachment figure. I will take his fever as a compliment].
There is something about a third little one that has made my mind and heart savor in an entirely new way.
It is like the fog of parenting has lifted just barely enough to see the beauty of the fleeting moments, through the sometimes misty way forward.
This guy can laugh. Oh can he laugh.
And even more than that, he can make us laugh. With his aggressive and no-nonsense head-nod in firm affirmation of that object of desire—most often his water or banana or yet another round of oatmeal pancakes.
Or the almost violent head-shake that moves his whole body from side to side, knowing that with persistence he will get a joyful rouse from his siblings and parents. It is almost like he thinks: “Shake head back and forth until complete and utter laughter erupts. Pause. Smile. Repeat.”
The mind-of-his-own is becoming quite apparent as well.
Already talented at expressing his back-arching, blood curdling screaming opinions, for now, I can smile through them because at this age — and for this #3 — they are so darn cute. And it is a sign I now recognize—that he moves from baby to toddler at eye-blinking speed.
Keeping up with the siblings is another superpower of his.
Walking be darned.
They climb the stairs—he climbs the stairs. They play with puzzles—he plays with puzzles. They put on a parade of musical exclamation—there he is crawling behind them with a drumstick in his mouth. They color and write thank you notes at the table—well why not him too. They dance away the moments before dinner to the beat of music blaring at max volume—he joins the movement in the sweetest and knowingest sway.
And those siblings of his are as much a part of his fabric as his very flesh.
Listening for them. Longing for them. Laughing for them. Leaning sweetly into them. They as much of his attachment as his daddy and I.
Oh, and this one is the nuzzler and snuggler. He lingers after naptime, in the crook of our necks, head resting, eyes blinking slowly awake. Laying relaxed in our arms for a few more beats before popping his head back with a sleepy half-smile.
It seems unlike our babies before. And perhaps it is partly on me and on us as well.
Perhaps I am more willing to linger, too.
I am more willing to savor and stop and wait, before storming out past the bedroom door and out in the moments post nap.
Instead, perhaps much unlike before, I will stand and hold a moment longer, too—now knowing these extra moments only gain time, not waste it.
The first year complete.
Largely thanks to this guy and an extra dose of savoring.