Your Children Are Not Your Children

Today, the babies turned seven months corrected.  As many mamas before me can attest to, time is speeding by faster and faster.  It seems like every week brings with it a new skill, a new favourite food, a new aspect of their ever-evolving personalities that I get to discover.  Of course, some of those new aspects are less than wonderful – the newly-developed whining, the constant teething pain, the screaming for fun, the throwing of food during meal times, the all-out nap strikes – but every day I look at Madeleine and Reid, these amazing little people who have come so, so far in seven months, and think how lucky I am to get to be the one who sees it all.

We were spending time after lunch in the living room, where they like to practice their almost-crawling.  It’s amazing to see this skill develop in little bits and pieces, each day a little bit closer to figuring it all out than the last.  Reid especially is very focused these days, and while I try to be as hands-off as possible during this process, just cheering him on by the sidelines, he gets so incredibly frustrated by his lack of results and cries often.

After a handful of frustrating wipeouts, I couldn’t bear to let him keep struggling, even though he would have kept at it until he was too exhausted to take it anymore.  This stage has been an exercise in patience for both of us – he has to keep trying until he figures it out, and I have to let him do that without trying to push him along.  This time though, I felt we could both use a bit of a break, and so we sat together in the rocking chair for some quiet time.

At seven months, the world has become an incredible place to Reid and Madeleine.  Everywhere you look there is something new to take in, to taste or feel or see or hear.  Sitting in that rocking chair, Reid didn’t want to look at me, but instead at the pattern in the glass on the front door, the way it obscured the light and the view outside.  I watched him watch it for a minute or two, and then finally, he put his head down on my chest and settled in.  I was just starting to revel in this moment, smelling his hair and stroking his back, when he realized he’d already had enough and wanted to go back to investigating the world around him.  It was one of many moments lately where I’d been reminded that, while important, I am only one small part of his always-expanding universe.

I came across a poem recently that really resonated with me.  Your children are not your childrenthey come through you but not from you…[t]hey are with you yet they belong not to you.  Ever since I first met the babies seven months ago, it struck me how much they were already very much their own people.  That they are really just on loan to me to take care of until they are able to take care of themselves.  With each passing month, as they need me just slightly less, I’m reminded of this.  I am here for them, they are not here for me.  I am responsible to them, they owe me nothing in return.  That’s the way I want it – the way it should be.

I thought of my boy in that moment, becoming more capable by the day, more inquisitive, one tiny step closer to becoming the person he already is, the person who will one day walk and talk and run and throw tantrums and disagree with me, and push me away and one day leave and start his own life.  And all of it, all of the stuff that will one day break my heart, it’s exactly what I want, and what he deserves.  But in that rocking chair, with my gorgeous, growing, restlessly curious little seven month old boy, I couldn’t help by squeeze him tight for an extra long cuddle, even as he tried to break away.  “I’m not done yet!”, I told him, and squeezed a little harder so that he’d giggle.  He relented for a few seconds and let me hold him before arching his back and pushing away, and I’d like to think he knew that was what I needed.  My sweet little boy, who is not mine. 


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