Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lessons from Jack Vol. 1

Today, my sweet baby is 8 months old.  The transition from 7-8 months was a tough one for young Jack.  Some nights I'd hear this mournful little moan from his crib and as I looked down at him he'd be pawing at his mouth.  Somewhere, tiny sharp teeth are making their way down his gums electrifying every nerve ending and causing plump tears to fall onto his cheeks.  I'd pick him up and hug him and hold him and he'd rest his head on my shoulder for 5, maybe 10 seconds and before I knew it, his head would pop up and he'd be staring out into the dark room.  In the moonlight, I could see the look of realization hit his face- even in the midst of all of this pain, I am home, things look familiar.  I haven't descended into some dark scary place, it just feels that way.  I can get through this.  This mama person who is always here hasn't left me yet.  I'll be ok.

And that, my friends, is one of the first lessons I have learned from my baby.  Fear is fleeting, pain is temporary.  It might appear that we have descended into some dark scary place, but in reality, we are always right where we need to be and the people we love who love us in return are only a little whimper (or phone call if you have the fine motor skills) away.

Aside from the teething, Jack formed some pretty intense separation anxiety last month.  Whether it was a quick trip to the fridge or the bathroom, the minute I left the room I'd hear his breath quicken and then came the scared little whimpers until he saw me again.  I admit, it can be stressful to be the only person at home with a baby who won't let you leave his sight.  I'd drag his exersaucer all over the house with me so he knew I was always nearby.  This past month is when I truly realized how scary this brave new world must be for him.

Here is a passage from one of my favorite books "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon Mackenzie

Before you were born, God came to you and said:
Hi, there! I just dropped by to wish you luck and to assure you that you and I will be meeting again soon, before you know it.   You’re heading out on an adventure that will be filled with fascinating experiences. You’ll start out as a tiny speck floating in an infinite dark ocean, quite saturated with nutrients, so you won’t have to go looking for food or a job or anything like that. All you’ll have to do is float in the darkness,and grow incredibly,and change miraculously. You’ll sprout arms and legs and hands and feet and fingers and toes. As if from nothing, your head will take form. Your nose, your mouth, your eyes and ears will emerge.
As you continue to grow bigger and bigger you will become aware that this dark, oceanic environment of yours – which, when you were tiny, seemed so vast is now actually cramped and confining. That will lead you to the unavoidable conclusion that you’re going to have to move to a bigger place.
After much groping about in the dark, you will find an exit, the mouth of a tunnel.  “Too small” you’ll decide “couldn’t possibly squeeze through there.”
But there will be no other apparent way out, so with primal spunk, you will take on your first “impossible” challenge and enter the tunnel.
In doing so, you will be embarking on a brutal, no-turning-back, physically exhausting, claustrophobic passage that will introduce you to pain and fear and hard physical labor. It will seem to take forever, but mysterious undulations of the tunnel itself will help squirm you through and finally, after what will seem like interminable striving, you will break through to a blinding light.
Giant hands will pull you gently, but firmly, into an enormous room. There will be several huge people, called adults, huddling around you, as if to greet you. If it is an old-fashioned place, one of these humongous people may hold you upside down by the legs and give you a swat on the backside to get you going.
All of this will be what the big people on the other side call being born. For you, it will be only the first of your new life’s many exploits.
God continues:
I was wondering, while you’re over there on the other side, would you do me a favor?
“Sure!” you chirp.
Would you take this artist’s canvas with you and paint a masterpiece for me? I’d really appreciate that.
I remember reading that passage years ago, but now I see it unfold for me, right before my very eyes every day I spend with Jack.  Every day on this planet is a brave new adventure for him.  He sees an equal amount of the known and unknown.  In the still of the night when he sleeps, he is anything but motionless, for billions of neurons and firing and synapses are being formed that are helping shape how he sees this world.  My greatest desire right now is that he connects Trevor and I with safety and security.  So I drag his exersaucer all over the house, knowing that someday the time will come when he wants to be anywhere that I'm not.  I enjoy him clinging to me for now.

In his 7th month, Jack discovered motion and now he can't be stopped.  He rolls and crawls and scoots his way all over the place.  How inspiring to me to see how much he wants to explore this world.  I think of all of the times I sat on the sidelines or sat out while everyone else danced.  Jack would give anything to have the freedom to move and explore that I have.  He has reminded me never to take this great gift of motion and freedom for granted.

I can safely say that month 7 was a period of immense growth for both me and Jack.  I could see the petals unfolding around him this month as the little bud became a bloom.  With each month that passes, his roots will grown stronger, his colors more vibrant and his spirit more infectious.  How did this little soul know that I was meant to be his mother?  Of the billions of genetic possibilities stored inside Trevor and me, Jack was the one.  I continue to stand in the warmth of this incredible love I feel for him and I feel so blessed that I get to experience the whole wide world again through his eyes.  It is the stuff of Louis Armstrong songs, truly.

 8 months old today!


  1. You are an awsome mother and jack is so lucky to have you! It is awsome to hear a mom who see's so much from their child's perspective. Remembering how the world and situations are for your little one will help you gain perspective during rough and trying times. It's always good to have a reminder! You guys are a great family and I am happy for all three of you! Good work mamma!
    :-) sarah

  2. You are an awsome mom and jack is lucky to have you! It is nice to see a mom appreciating the stuggles of their little one and seeing the world through their eyes. That will help you through tough times and trials as things change. Thanks for the perspective. You guys are a great family who love eachother and love their child and it shows! Good work mamma!

  3. I was just reading this and it made me think about when my niece was a baby. She clung to her mother so hard that she wouldn't stay with sitters or even let her aunts hold her!! At four years old, she crawls into my lap and snuggles and played in Lake Michigan with me for 45 minutes, jumping waves. I'm thankful she grew out of the clingy stage for my own greedy reasons!! =)