“why are you staring at miles?” ruth asked me the other day. if only she knew. if only she knew how much I just want to sit and watch my kids, each of them, every day. seeing how this one furrows his brow and mumbles to himself as he plays, or how that one’s eyes get wild when she’s talking about something exciting. I could be content to be a spectator of my children for the rest of my days, just drinking in their looks and movements and ways.
but I, of course, can’t do that. they aren’t beautiful “things” like sunsets to be taken in with a deep breath and admired. and when they catch me gazing at them, I see their eyes narrow at me suspiciously, and then they throw up their guard. they don’t understand why I stare with doe eyes and a big dopey, misty grin. “mom! cut it out!” their looks seem to say, “you weirdo.” and I snap out of my trance.
miles is still young enough, though, where he doesn’t yet have a firm enough sense of self to be self-conscious. he’s in that magical baby land where he doesn’t feel that he and I are in fact separate individuals but instead views me as an extension of himself. I used to think it was exhausting to be so vital to someone else. now I know that trying to negotiate life with bigger kids who know they ARE separate from me but who are sill incredibly emotionally dependent on me is much harder.
“I just like to look at him,” I said to ruth who was still standing there, impatiently demanding an answer. she looked at me like I was making lame excuses and then stalked away. I watched her steps as she went, remembering a much smaller version of the expanding being I now contend with, elbowing her way into concrete existence and life so forcefully it’s shocking to me.
I often joke as I hold ruth or joel in my arms (yes, I can still carrying them if only for short distances, especially ruth), “what happened to my baby? where did this big KID come from?” which they think is hilarious and cackle mercilessly at my pathetic simplicity. “yeah right, mom. what? you thought you could contain us? not at all. we’re not under your thumb, we’re like expanding balloons full of helium quickly slipping out of your grasp. don’t even try to hold on to us.”
the things I am living are the things every parent the world over and time over have experienced. I’m sure that I was watched by my parents the same way, the way every parent must look at their child: with scarcely disguised admiration, pride and just plain awe. that our tiny babies are growing into people.