My youngest rounded out the birthday celebrations on May 30th. She turned two. And with this comes the realization that I no longer have a baby, but a walking, talking, fiercely independent and opinionated pre-schooler.
She is a vocal beast about her likes and dislikes. It is common hear her scream at grocery stores, before leaving playgrounds – any place, really. I chalk it up to her joie de vivre, her exultant passion for life. Why walk when you can run everywhere? Why not touch everything, feel everything, go everywhere? She’s got little feet, fast legs, a curious palate, emotional instability and a loud scream. Also, two parents who, after three children, have little fight left in them and are happy to indulge.
A few weeks ago I deactivated and deleted the last remnants of my online presence. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to say goodbye to my Instagram account. In retrospect, I have had a heavy online presence since the mid 90’s and it was just time to close that chapter and focus on my life outside of social media. From AsianAvenue to Myspace to Livejournal and Vox…then Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in my adult years. Lately, I’ve found myself in some funny parenting situations only to catch my mind thinking up clever anecdotes to pair with what I would have posted. I wish I can say it only happened once or twice, but old habits die hard. These days I am making more of an effort to tuck those memories away in my memory and journal, and this blog for posterity.
Speaking of which, Odette referred to a loonie as a “Golden Goose”. Eliette has been calling the dog “Nipples” instead of Morris.
Interestingly, before I deactivated, I came across a flood of accounts that were dedicated to following terminally ill children and adults. I know, I know. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for real life medical drama. It wasn’t long before I was emotionally invested. While I didn’t have a legit account, my faves were bookmarked and I was (and still am) checking back daily here, here, here, here and here.
What I’ve learned about myself in following these accounts is that 1) I live an incredibly blessed and prosperous life 2) It is a daily blessing my children are and remain to be healthy and whole 3) I have a crippling fear of illness taking hold on them and 4) I will strive daily to have a deep and unabashed love affair with my husband and each of my children.
Having children is such a fickle thing. You go from being the most self-centered person, to having a baby and immediately resenting it for your loss of adult independence. But then love wins, and you fall into this rabbit hole of not knowing what you’d do without this little person and not just relating to, but knowing things like sacrificial love on an intimate level. Stories of other parents losing their children or battling terminal illness resonate with you in frightening ways that make you hold your own tight. And make you wonder why you would ever have children, and ultimately ever put yourself in a situation where these terrible things are possible.
Why would you allow your heart to grow a pair of legs and walk around when there is so much hurt and uncertainty and pain? How do you protect your little ones from it? What if you fail?
It is a double edged sword, this parenting thing.
I hate to admit it, but I struggle deeply with this. And at times it takes everything in me to fight down the panic of what ifs…and this is coming from a mom who has no immediate danger or health issues threatening. But I think the fact that because danger is always lurking just below the surface keeps me present. It keeps me focused on what is here, now. And so lately, every day, I’ve made a conscious effort to love each person in my family fiercely. To practice a little more patience than I would have originally, to indulge my children in that extra hug when they can’t sleep, to look them in the eyes and hear exactly what they’re saying in that moment. I spoil them with hugs and kisses and take in the smell of their baby skin, the warmth of their bodies in my arms, the tinkling sound of their voices when they let out peals of laughter.
It is so important to be present.
I wish I had unplugged sooner.