Slow down and watch the clouds
by Vivian Rindik-Wiener
am an only child, and like many only children, I spent most of my time with adults. Of course I had friends, and a swarm of cousins on my father's side that I spent select holidays with, but for the most part I was surrounded by a much older crowd.
I don't remember holding a baby until I was 16, and I never babysat. My mother was convinced that I would never have a child, and for most of my young adult life, it wasn't something I even thought about.
Baby lust--it gets the best of us
As the threshold of 30 approached, and the appeal of all-nighters and roommates was starting to wane, I found myself secretly envying those who had chosen to settle down and start a family. For the first time in my life I began to notice women pushing strollers, and the look of knowing and contentment on their faces. I found myself eagerly accepting invitations to my suburban relatives' get-togethers, and would drive up and down the parceled streets, smiling at the homes with their front lawns strewn with balls and bikes.
Still fidgeting with my new wedding ring, my husband and I set off in a rented car to explore what lay beyond the bridges and tunnels of Manhattan. Finding a sense of comfort in his former hometown, we were quick to find a house that made us giddy: Big backyard, fireplace, lots of windows, and most importantly a cozy little room off the master bedroom that would make the perfect...nursery.
I can still hear my mother's scream of joy when I announced (only two short months after we moved in) that I was pregnant. We spent many hours on the phone, coast-to-coast, over the next seven months talking about the things that babies do and the things that mothers do. I had a lot to learn; I'd never really known a baby before.
My mom flew in two days before my anticipated due date, but baby was slightly delayed, and she had to fly back home the day after I came home from the hospital. So baby, who was now named Paige, and I began to get to know each other. We worked it out, the two of us, and although it was a bumpy ride occasionally, we made up our own rules and became comfortable.
I knew, however, that there was a piece of our relationship missing. There was something that I needed to "get," an intangible that would bring us beyond just being comfortable.
One early spring day as we were enjoying a sunny break on the deck (she was up to her usual--running as close to the steps as she could possibly get, and I was up to my usual--making sure she didn't fall down the steps), she stopped dead in her tracks. Her head tilted back as far as it could go, her tiny finger pointing straight up, she screamed, "Mama! Look!" And there it was...a cloud. I was ready to respond with my usual textbook definition, when I stopped. The wonder in her eyes brought tears to mine, and it was in that moment that I realized what I had been missing.
One of the most dramatic shifts we can make, for the sake of our children as well as for ourselves, is to begin to see life through a child's eyes. The unfortunate of us have become so entrenched in what we perceive to be the necessities of day-to-day living, that just getting through the day is an achievement in itself. By reawakening to the beauty in the ordinary, and allowing ourselves time for "being" instead of becoming prisoners of "doing," we will not only make far better partners in the parent-child relationship, we will enhance our lives as friends, as spouses, and as individuals.
These days, I no longer watch my daughter run from the sidelines, I run with her. I purposely plan outings in the rain so we can stomp in the puddles. I laugh out loud at Dr. Seuss. And most sunny days, you can find Paige and me curled up on a lounge chair, heads back, watching the clouds.
Vivian Rindik-Wiener is a personal coach, and the creator of the Lifedesigning method of coaching. She lives with her daughter Paige, husband Glenn, seven cats and two enormous turtles in Rockland County, New York. To find out more about Lifedesigning, please visit Vivian's website for more information.
Lynn's related items:
- The Big Rumpus: Ayun Halliday's take on motherhood is urban, urbane and hysterical.
- Mitten Strings for God is a sweet set of meditations on slowing down and enjoying childhood; it's so short. (The title is a little misleading; this is not a religious book per se.)
- Surrendering to Motherhood is Iris Krasnow's story of how she learned to relax and let motherhood take over. Highly recommended.
- Operating Instructions is the hilarious and insightful account of writer Anne Lamott's first year with her son, Sam. An absolute must "first baby" gift for the new mom in your life (or you). (Language alert: If four-letter words disturb you, don't read Anne Lamott. You'll be missing out, but I'm just sayin'.)