I consider myself extremely fortunate and even lucky to be the mother of two healthy and happy little kids. I am their keeper. For now and forever. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A few days ago on Halloween, while trick or treating with my two little ones in my neighborhood block, one dressed in his galant firefighter costume, wearing a homemade hand-me-down coat that his grandpa had designed for one of his cousins years ago, and the other dressed as a ferocious lion in a costume I bought for $2.50 at a local consignment sale last October, I met a woman holding a little boy.
When you have kids, a common question to break the ice is asking how old the other person’s child is. She asked first, gesturing toward Baby E who was riding an umbrella stroller for the first time.
“7 Months,” I said. “How old is he?,” I inquired.
“15 Months,” she said, talking about her fuzzy little lion whom she was holding in her arms.
After making some more small talk, a little firefighter, a lion in a stroller, and a woman in a strawberry red wig, went about their way, looking for neighbors with pumpkins on their doorstep to signal their willingness to get tricked or treated.
I ran into her again, outside my doorstep, just as Aaron came out to give candy to the little boy and our other neighbor’s little girl. This time, the little lion boy’s father was holding him in his arms.
Later in the evening, after all the candy has been sorted and put away, the time when we are both usually on our laptops with some kind of late night political comedy show playing in the background, I shared with Aaron what I had been thinking about since meeting the mother and her 15-month-old.
“I wonder if that little boy is okay. At 15 months, he was being carried by his mother and later, his father. I hope he is alright”.
“You think something is wrong?”
“No, not really. I was just thinking about it though.”
Turns out, nothing is wrong with the little boy. I ran into his mother and him again a few days later in the park across from my house. (Isn’t it interesting that even though we’ve both lived in the same community for nearly 2 years, we never met each other and then we see each other twice in one week). At the time, we had some more time to talk about our kids.
I learned that her son who was born prematurely, is considered a late walker and is not much motivated to start walking. Even though he can, he gives up easily, and prefers being carried, something neither of the parents have ever shied away from and which I completely understand.
She voluntarily shared with me his low growth percentile, her guilt with having lost her pregnancy weight too quickly and wondering perhaps if that had something to do with his low numbers, her frustrations with one daycare which expected him to be a self-feeder by 12 months and having to switch to a different family-based one, her somewhat unhappiness with their sleep arrangement, her matter-of-fact stating that he did not sleep through the night yet…and others. I tried to be an empathetic listener and shared some of my own experiences to show solidarity.
Much after the conversation had ended and the purple hues of a relatively warm California evening and turned into darkness and we had all returned to our respective homes, mine where I got busy getting dinner ready, my chat with my new acquaintence kept hijacking every other thought I had in my head.
Did she long for her child to run around and play like the other kids around him? Did she long to walk beside him, holding his hand? Perhaps. Or maybe, these are not the questions she wonders about. There is something to say about appreciating every stage, however ‘late’ by whoever’s standards and that’s the thing.
Sure, there are all these milestones out there but who cares, as long as you have a happy and healthy child who is simply taking her or his own time to get to where she or he needs to get. She didn’t need my sympathies or anybody else’s. Her son was fine. Yes, she is worried and it was very apparent in how she shared this information with me. It is definitely on her mind all the time. I am sure comparisons come up naturally whenever kids and moms get together. She, however, was taking it all in stride and this was apparent too in how she talked to her son and picked him up or held him.
I went over the normality of my evening, getting dinner ready, chit-chatting, making airplane spoons fly into a baby’s open mouth while threatening the other with taking his toy away if he didn’t eat his dinner, or laughing over the silliness of which only a 2-year-old is capable.
Finally, when I had a moment to regroup my thoughts I realized that even as I was going about my evening, the reason that conversation kept dominating my thoughts was because I couldn’t imagine being in a place where my kids couldn’t be kids. I wanted to give this mother a big hug.
My two-year-old runs, hops, skips, jumps, plays loudly, screams gleefully, expresses himself unequivocally, and has a determination deserving of applause even when it drives me absolutely insane at times. I cannot imagine him being otherwise. I cannot imagine him not wanting or able to do everything that he does now.
It breaks my heart to see him quiet and disengaged from his toys and other activities when he falls ill. For all the times he makes me want to pull my hair or scream into a pillow or throw swear words at the Universe; for all the times he brings out the worst in me; for all the times he makes me question my sanity or drives me to insanity; for all the times, though very, very rare, he makes me question why I ever wanted to have kids….I am so, so grateful. I absolutely would NOT want it any other way.
I want him to always run, hop, skip, and jump instead of walk even if I can barely catch up as he gets older. I want him to always scream in excitement and sheer joy even if it makes me cover my ears. I want him to always have the will to move mountains while I smile knowingly and somewhat proudly about where he gets it from.
I want him to always have the joy for life and living that will drive me a little bit crazy.
Baby E, at 7 months, has had many adventures already in her young life. She has many more to conquer on her way to moving mountains of her own. I’ll be right there. For her and her brother. Thanking the powers that be, the positive energies of the world, the Universe, Gods and Goddesses of every religion, and whoever and whatever else is out there for giving me the blessing of two happy and healthy children. Superstitions, kinahoras, and evil eyes notwithstanding, I just feel extremely grateful and blessed.
Please note: I don’t mean to be insensitive to kids who have disabilities or have health issues that prevent them from active play. I also understand that “healthy” and “happy” may be interpreted subjectively. I absolutely do not mean to patronize anybody here. These are just my feelings for my children and for myself and just because I say I feel blessed for having happy and healthy children does not mean that I am implying that others are not.