Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Reasons Why You Cling After Disruption

Dear Daughter,

I found myself becoming frustrated today as you are not “yourself”. I cannot put you down to let you play the way I usually can. You want to lay belly to belly quietly in mommy’s and daddy’s bed and nurse. You want to nurse while you nap. You nursed most of last night and did not sleep well at all. It’s like the six week growth spurt all over again- but you’re ten months old.

I have chores that need to be done.  They’ve built up recently. Laundry to do, floors to sweep clean of crumbs, and the random sticky spots that have cropped up around the kitchen table.

I need to remember the reasons why you cling close after disruption.

Last Friday I volunteered at your brother’s school and you played with your awesome babysitter while I was out of the house for two short hours. Then on Saturday I had the first date with your daddy that I’ve had since you were tiny and still growing in my belly. And then yesterday I had a meeting and was gone from 7AM to 2PM. Then when you really wanted to simply melt into my arms and find your peace again we rushed off to watch your biggest brother at karate. Not significant changes in adult-like terms, but what about to a baby who finds comfort in her routines and in closeness and consistency?

I’m sorry, sweet one. You’re trying to  repair the tiny cracks in our relationship. You’re trying to tell me that you missed me. You’re trying to put in the work and the closeness to return the strength of our attachment. And I’m trying to tick off items on my to-do list that I neglected.

Our relationship is so strong and secure. You trust me so much to meet your needs. Then I’m not there, and you cope so well and play so hard while others that you trust watch you.  And then I come back and you simply want to set everything right again and catch back up to where we were before.

As an adult when I don’t see your father for a day or two and then he comes home and sits down and checks his email.. That makes me sad enough. I can only imagine how silly it must seem to you that I want to put you down to play with a machine full of water and dirty clothes.

You cling to me after disruptions because our relationship is important to you and you’re putting in the work to make it right again.

I wrote this earlier as you slept on my chest. Then I held you and kissed you and talked to you and told you that I missed you and was happy to be home with you again. You glomped down on my nose with spitty baby gums, then squirmed your legs until I put you down so that you could crawl off and look for things to explore.

Yes, little one. You mean the world to me. I’m sorry if I made you doubt that.

<3 Mama

The Most Important Person in the Room (To the dad whose baby won’t let him help)

Dear Dad Whose Baby Won’t Let Him Help Out,

Yes. I understand that the baby doesn’t accept you for comfort at night. Yes. I understand that when you can’t do the things that mom is doing, it feels like you might as well go and do something else.

Technically you couldn’t ‘do anything’ when the baby was being born either. You couldn’t labor for her. You couldn’t push the baby out. You were a provider of moral support.

When you can’t help with the baby it often means that mom is under more stress than she would be otherwise, because if you could help that would take some of the stress off her shoulders.

When you decide to go watch football or play a video game..
When you decide to go out with friends..
When you just give up and go do your own thing..

You’re underestimating your importance. You’re underestimating exactly how much you are needed. Underestimating your value. Underestimating how much your strength is needed.

Maybe you can’t give mom a break by rocking the baby to sleep the way you’d like to. Maybe you feel like there’s nothing that you can do.

Remember when she was in labor and you were there for her. Remember when she had a c-section and you were there for her. You were the most important person in the room.

You still are.

In the lonely dark hours of the night, when she doubts herself.
When the baby is crying and colicky and only quiets in her arms and she’s on the fourth hour of dancing.
When the baby is going through a growth spurt and is sucking the life out of her..

Little words from you remind her that she has value and meaning.
Sitting by her side sustains her.
A gentle touch helps her relax and replenishes spent reserves.
Keeping her company shows her that you care, and makes it easier for her to ask for all those little things that she may not be able to do for herself.

The strength that we need from you is not always the strength to make things happen. Sometimes it’s the strength to share those lonely difficult times simply by being there when there’s nothing else that you can do.

Chances are pretty good that it’s the times that you feel that you can’t do anything to help .. That you’re really helping the most.

You are what keeps us afloat.

You are what keeps us anchored.

There’s no way that we could do this without you.

Why I Used to Be a Better Mother than You

Dear Mama-Who-Everyone-Questions,

You probably wonder why everyone thinks that they’re a better mother than you. Why they give you all this advice, and try to tell you that you’re doing Everything Wrong.

I used to be a “better mother than you”, too. And you deserve an apology and an explanation, even though we’ve probably never spoken before. Even if we do things very similarly.

I used to question the choices of other mothers because it felt like the only way to feel confident in my own choices. It often felt like I was taking the more difficult path, and my reason was “because I love my baby”. Following that logic other paths taken by other people must mean they.. were taking an easy path? Didn’t love their baby as much as I did? I thought that in order to understand why I WAS doing something a certain way I also had to understand why I was NOT doing it the other way.

But then those other mothers seemed like they also thought that I was taking the easy path when I knew that the choice they were referencing wasn’t an easy one at all.

I have found that the more I question the choices of others the more I question my own choices and the choices that my children make.

In the beginning when you’re trying to find your legs you get a lot of advice. And you try a lot of it. And some things work and some things don’t. And you’re frustrated and finding your way. And then you find your footing a bit and you find the things that work and you want to SHARE THEM WITH EVERYONE just like everyone has been sharing with you.

In the beginning when all the people around you seem to question every little thing that you do, it also feels sometimes like you have to fortify your choices by questioning the methods opposite yours.

It’s a false peace.

When I stopped saying “I WOULD NEVER DO WHAT THAT MOTHER/FATHER DID” and instead said “This is what I do and why I do it” I started realizing something. I was free. Delightfully spine tingly free. I had thoughts. I had beliefs. I had reasons. I had ideas. All of which existed on their own merit, not as the anti-other-idea.

I was not building my relationship with my child upon the holes in other methods. I was parenting in a strong, wonderful, loving way that fit my life and the life of my children like a glove.

The more I accept that other parents choose the methods based on what works for them in their life.. The more I fortify myself against the meaningless judgement of others.

When I say “I cannot judge them because I do not know all of the details of their life or their heart” I am also saying that their judgement of me is meaningless for the same reason that my judgement of them would be. They do not know me well enough to pass judgement on my life, and I do not know them well enough to pass judgement on theirs.

I know MY  life.  And that is all that I need to know. I have put in hard work. I have made healthy choices. I have made loving choices that are right for my heart, my children, my family, my joy.

I don’t need to fortify myself with negative thoughts about alternatives. I have all the positive reasons in the world.

That is where joy comes from. The freedom to love. Heart to heart. With the knowledge and conviction that my choices are joyful and beautiful.

You.. I don’t know you. And I no longer judge you. Instead I look at you and I see someone different from me, with children that are different from mine, in a life different from mine. I see someone strong who is making decisions and exploring options. I see someone who is living her life and making loving choices that are right for her heart, her children, her family, and her joy.

I don’t judge you anymore. I never had the right to pass judgement on your choices. I don’t waste time wondering if you could be doing things better. I spend my time wondering what I can do better, and finding those answers and being the best mom that I can be for my children through my choices which may very well be different from the best choices that you make. Not “better”. Different. As different as you and I, and as different as the children that we raise.

Instead I smile. Because I see the love in your eyes when you look at your sweet baby. And I know that for all the difference in the choices that we make.. We are making choices of joy.

<3 Sarah

Nine Hundred and Twenty Nine Nights

He did not sleep through the night for nine hundred and twenty-nine nights at the beginning of his life. He slept snuggled up to me, sleeping in short bursts of time, nursing in-between, and needing me close for comfort.

And then he no longer needed that.

It sounds endless. Nine hundred and twenty-nine nights.

Between the day he was born and the day of his eighteenth birthday he will sleep six thousand five hundred and seventy five nights. And only nine hundred and twenty of those will have been in my arms.

It felt endless because I was under so much pressure to push him off into his own bed. I think this was part of why he needed so much to be held close.

I wish that instead of being so sad about the sleep that seemed to never come.. I had known to pull him near. To savor the moments.

I can never go back to sniff that baby head of his again as he snuggles up against me in chubby toddler sleep. That stage of our lives is past. I knew, though, to pull his brother near and relish the time as we passed through only six hundred and seventy one nights.

And my nose gets tickled every night now by the fuzzy flyaway hair of my daughter. We’ve snuggled our way through 317 nights. I do not know how many more nights there will be until she crawls away into her own space to fall asleep. The time does not seem endless this third time around. It seems slow and quiet, even as it speeds on past.

I do not push her away because I’ve learned that there is no need to push, and I’ve learned that pushing them away just makes them need more not less. She will want her own space soon enough, and when she does I will smile and be proud of the independence that she has found.

There is nothing more driven than a child that is encouraged to grow at their own pace. Life is huge and exciting and fascinating and full of many good things. I will not push them away faster than they are ready because I know that soon enough I’ll have to run just to keep up.  

Why I Abandoned Advocacy for Support (Peace in a Time of Mommy Wars)

I used to be a passionate advocate of breastfeeding, of gentle parenting, of certain “ideals”. I no longer am. I’m not a lactivist. I’m not an intactivist. I’m not a wait-it-out-ivist. I’m not a soldier in a battle in the mommy wars. In a way I have become a medic. I also help evacuate refugees that are caught in crossfire between opposing camps in this mad free-for-all fiasco of hurt feelings and bitterness. 
Being an “advocate” came naturally in the beginning. I was raised with picket signs and letters of protest against things that I felt were an injustice. I’m a daughter of a 1960’s mom.

Some things seemed black and white back then in the beginning. Those things seemed even more clearly right or wrong because of parenting decisions that I was beginning to make for my own child.

As often happens with any war, you head in as a new soldier expecting to win battles. Some people become hardened and excel at aggressive assaults or impenetrable defense. Some people become strategists. Some people become diplomats. Some people get caught in the crossfire. Some people see the casualties.

I saw the casualties. Moms who doubted their choices, their motherhood, their existence as human beings. Moms trying to make “methods” work to the point where they were caught between the method and their child and the method was winning. Postpartum depression, social isolation, sadness, anger, angry-sadness and withdrawal. I saw the white flags of surrender.

And I realized something. Discussions about parenting methods should be this thing of JOY. Of fascination, of learning, of discovery. Of finding out what works for us.. Of finding out what makes sense for us.

Few people come to joy through force. It was realizing this that caused me to abandon advocacy in order to be a provider of support.

I had abandoned advocacy long before the “birth” of Nurshable. I had abandoned it because I did not want to be one of the casualties, and because it left me feeling sad and defeated. I simply don’t have the heart or stomach for advocacy. There is a place in this world for advocates, and I admire the work that they do. But I will never be a soldier, and I do not believe I will ever be an “advocate” again. It requires talents that I simply do not possess.

I purchased nurshable.com on October 25 2011 and I didn’t touch it for a good long while. When I found out that I was having a daughter as opposed to a third son, something shifted in my heart and in my head. I started seeing my child in all of the women around me rather than seeing myself. And I realized that I do not want my daughter to be a casualty.

After my sweet little one was born, I made the decision to start writing her letters about my own journey through motherhood. I wanted to somehow convey to her all of the things that I’ve learned about finding joy in choices. I decided to share these letters, as they are things that I wished I could have read as a new mom.. Things I wish I could have read instead of the endless threads of who is and is not right and how right or how wrong each person is.

Through speaking to my daughter in these letters I’ve found an incredible sense of calm and peace. And through speaking to the readers of Nurshable I am growing my peace. I’m growing my compassion. I’m seeing what happens when there is place of peace outside of a war.

There is no clear “birthday” for Nurshable. Nurshable was not “born” when I registered the domain. Nurshable was not “born” when I found out I was having a daughter. Nurshable was not “born” alongside my dear baby girl. So I can’t write a birthday post for this blog on a specific date. So this post will serve as my “happy birthday” to this safe place that WE have created. Myself, the readers of Nurshable, and our children.

Thank you for helping me find this place, and for helping me keep it so full of joy and calm. By leaving the comments open, this blog has become a community that extends to the WIO group and the Nurshable page, and to all of the friends that I have made and that have come to know each other as well. This has become a creation of yours as much as it is a creation of mine.

And it makes me smile.

The Truth About Breastmilk for Ear Infections

I see a lot of recommendations to put breast milk into ears for ear infections.

The thing to understand about milk in ears is this:

Most baby ear infections are middle ear infections. An infection that is behind the ear drum. The ear drum does not allow the milk to pass through to interact directly with the bacteria causing the infection. Milk in the ear only directly comes in contact with the infection if it is an infection of the outer ear/ear canal. (such as “swimmer’s ear”)

MOST ear infections clear up without the need for treatment. The current AAP recommendation is to wait 48-72 hours after diagnosis of an ear infection before trying antibiotics. Many ear infections will clear on their own given time.

So what does milk in the ear do?

It is soothing. A warm liquid in the ear does help soothe the pain, just as a warm compress or drops of warm oil would.

It also introduces a liquid into the ear that can cause an infection of the ear canal. This is unlikely as breastmilk tends to cure rather than cause infections, however if breastmilk becomes trapped in the ear eventually the breastmilk will decay and bacteria will be attracted to it.

For me the “benefits” of temporarily soothing the pain (until the warmth goes away) don’t outweigh the risks of putting something into the ear. I stick with a warm rice sock which provides the same benefit and I wait the 72 hours to see if the ear infection clears or sticks around.

I have only had to give antibiotics for an ear infection to one of my children once.

When the milk can come in contact with the infection? YES. Use it. I got rid of pinkeye with milk. (Careful, it blurs your vision temporarily because of the fat content of the milk). I’ve gotten rid of minor skin infections and irritations with it as well. It even helped get rid of my dog’s dermatitis a bunch of years ago. For ear infections? I do the wait and see route and if necessary I go with antibiotics.

Why You are NOT Failing as a Mama

Dear Mama,

I see you came here last night after Google led you to one post or another of mine. I see you on the forums sobbing and wondering why your body has failed your baby. I  hear you as you wonder if maybe someone else should be raising your child because in a moment of frustration you raised your voice at your baby. I see that you’re wondering if you are failing your baby by not training them to sleep by having them Cry It Out at three or six or nine months. I see that you are wondering if you have ruined your child because he will not sleep through the night at one year old while teething.

I don’t know you, but I wish desperately right now that I could wrap you up in a hug. I wish that I could say “Is that all? Oh jeez, mama. You’re not failing. You’re doing WONDERFULLY.” and I wish that I could have a long conversation with you where I could share some perspective, some resources, some hope.

You are not failing your baby.

Breathe.

Don’t ask the question “How can I deal with failing this way?” You are not failing. You do not need to cry your way through failure or make peace with “having failed”.

You need to connect with others similar to you, whose hearts tell them the same things that your heart tells you. Others who have been through what you are going through, not others who claim that parenthood is this perfect seamless easy thing that can be sanitized and wrapped up neatly and tied off with a piece of brightly colored string.

Find your tribe.

If you are “failing” at breastfeeding, seek out active zealous breastfeeding support groups. You may be making TOO much milk. Your baby might have a tongue tie that has gone undiagnosed. Your baby may have a sensitivity to something in your diet that can be changed. Your friend who feeds her baby X number of ounces of breastmilk each day may have serious oversupply and might be overfeeding with a bottle. Your baby might have a perfectly normal dip in weight that his pediatrician may not understand because every perfectly normal baby that he sees that dips in weight ends up supplemented as a matter of course rather than watching the weight to see if it forms a trend. Come to the Breastfeeding Moms Group on Cafemom. I’m a moderator over there and there are a LOT of very wonderful helpful moms that can help you make things work or help you find the peace that you so deserve. If Cafemom isn’t your thing check out r/breastfeeding on Reddit.

If you are “failing” because you had a tantrum and yelled or lashed out.. You understand that yelling is not how you want to parent your little one. You are not “failing”, you were overwhelmed and did not know how else to act in that moment of overwhelm.  YOU NEED SUPPORT, not an indictment. You need to learn new ways to cope, new ways to view the situation, new ways to find support. Please reach out to me and I can help you find some resources. Failure comes from trying to do it alone when what you’re doing alone is not working.

If you are “failing” with sleep because your six month old won’t sleep through the night then I’m failing right alongside you. What’s more, I “failed” with my older two children.. Nevermind the fact that they both sleep so very well now.  Come join us in the “Wait it Out” support group where we gently and lovingly teach our children to sleep without crying anything out.  We can offer you perspective, coping mechanisms, tales of hope and inspiration, suggestions, and understanding where others have only offered you guilt and false prophecy of failure.

Failure looks like neglect, not like love. Like children who are not cared for, not loved, not nurtured. Failure does not look like a mistake. Failure is not a medical condition, failure is not needing to seek help and support, failure is not “doing things differently than how you wanted”. Failure does not take its form in your child’s unique personality or needs.

Chances are so very good that you are not “failing”, you are being failed. Your current system of support is failing you.

Find your tribe. Find those moms that have been where you are now. Find all those different options to explore.

When you’ve done the legwork and know the options and have tried the ones that are try-able, then you walk away having made choices not having “failed”.

You are not a failure. You’re a mother. You are strong. You love deeply. And very few mothers are ever one hundred percent of everything that they wanted to be.

Seek knowledge. Know your options. Embrace support. Find your tribe. Above all, though, know that a loving choice made with the knowledge that you have at the time.. Is never a wrong choice. Be gentle with yourself.

<3 Sarah

Sleepy Story (For Cosleepers)

At the end of this day
the sun has set
and the birds have rustled down in the trees
all snug under their feathers,
and we snuggle down in bed
all warm under the covers,
with heavy sleepy eyes
and a heavy head,
that feels so good to rest
against our soft and sleepy bed.
Mama’s here to hold you,
right now for as long as you need,
and Daddy’s here to snuggle you,
for as long as you wish before sleep.
And sleep will come like waves against a shore,
warm and rolling in the summer eve,
Sleep will come like a soft and gentle caress
along your eyebrow and down your cheek
helping your sleepy eyes to close.
As you grow you’ll slowly find
you no longer need us near
and you’ll crawl into your own special place,
your own snuggly bed in a room of your own
and you’ll snuggle down deep
and sleep a sleep so sweet and deep
safe in the soft dark night alone.
And every night we’ll still be right here,
as we have been every night since you were born,
we’ll be right here to hold you
to love you, kiss you, hug you, snuggle you,
we’ll be right here when you need us,
as you grow.
Goodnight little one.
Sleep well.
We will play again in the morning.  

Ten Random Parenting Choices That Have Paid Off

1- Starting at 3 I encouraged my oldest child to be the one to identify and approach store staff to ask questions for any purchase related to him. At six with a little bit of help he will identify who works in a store, approach them, identify whether they are helping someone else already, get their attention by saying “excuse me”, and tell them in his own words what he is looking for. Sometimes he needs a little bit of help to format his request properly, often he is able to handle the entire exchange beautifully.  This means that if he ever becomes separated from us he will be able to identify who works in a store and ask for help. It also means that at six he has mastered a skill that I struggled with as an adult. In a pet store looking to see if they have a specific addition to his aquarium? He’ll find the worker, get the worker’s attention, ask about the specific addition, answer questions about his aquarium.. If he doesn’t know the answers he’ll turn to me and ask me and then tell the worker the answers. His adaptability is remarkable. No he’s not the child that is throwing a fit because he can’t get the salt water fish for his fresh water aquarium. He’s the child that is identifying a fish within the parameters given, and then making the choice to wait another two weeks before getting the new fish because the petstore worker has told him that he should wait before adding another fish to his setup. He is also noticing the price of the fish and comparing it to the prices of other fish, and looking at the size of the aquarium that the fish will need to make sure that it would be okay in his aquarium.

2- After dealing with two noise sensitive children that were terrified of the vacuum and the coffee grinder.. With my daughter instead of trying to put her down somewhere away from the noise.. I kept her close. I wore her in a wrap, made eye contact with her, smiled, made a fake version of the sound about to happen, and then turned on the vacuum/coffee grinder/loud noisy thing while giggling. Now at ten months she finds the sound that the coffee grinder makes to be FUNNY. She also is amused by sudden loud sounds and will startle and then start laughing.

3- When my middle child started having an age appropriate fear of ghosts, we started reading childrens Halloween/spooky books. Now he thinks ghosts are awesome, and will talk to imaginary ghosts and spiders and robots. Trying to argue with a child about “it’s imaginary!” doesn’t work too well. I had some success with my oldest by telling him about imaginary and telling him that he can imagine a super sword to get the imaginary ghost. But making those “scary” things into fun playmates seems to be much more effective.

4- Involving my kids in my chores. Yes, it makes things take a lot longer at first. But my oldest child knew how to do his own laundry at 4. I still do it most of the time because he has a pretty packed schedule and needs his downtime, but when he’s feeling goal oriented he’ll declare he wants to do his laundry to earn “Izzamoolians” (a fake currency we created that has an exchange rate of 2 Izzamoolians to one dollar). I have to measure the detergent to avoid being drowned in suds but he’ll load, set the settings, move the laundry to the drier, and put it all away.

5- Which brings me to the closet. Child-height closet. All shirts hang, all pants are folded in drawers, and all underwear and socks are in a shoe organizer on the door. My six year old has access to all of his clothes and knows how to get it out to get dressed in the morning when he wakes up, and how to put it away.

6- Making cleanup part of potty learning. My two and a half year old knows that when he uses the potty we pour it out super careful into the middle of the toilet, then we help any escaped pee or poo get into the toilet with some toilet paper so that it won’t be lonely and left behind. Then we flush and wave bye bye. He will do all of this unprompted with supervision to make sure he doesn’t flush an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet.

7- Giving my kids change to play with and allowing my oldest to spend it in stores. The other day I told him he could have $2 to spend in a store. He counted some change that I gave him and found that he had $1.80 in two quarters and 13 dimes. I told him to go get two more dimes. He returned with two quarters and told me that instead of getting three more dimes he was going to use the two quarters. Then he took away three dimes to put back. When we go to the store he has his budget and will look for items that he can buy and try to figure out what he can buy. (We bring extra for the tax currently.) Often the cashiers will eat it up and will ask him if he can figure out what his change will be.  My two and a half year old likes to count the pieces of money and talk about the sizes and colors and identify the numbers on the money. (Yes, he’s under three. No he doesn’t put it in his mouth.)

8-  Variety plates of food. I’ve discovered that my kids aren’t “fussy” eaters. My kids have certain preferences and that when they’re simply offered things they will pick and choose and sample and make choices based on their needs. Then I can finish whatever they don’t finish. It eliminates battles and I learn interesting things. Like that my six year old likes bread with cream cheese that is sprinkled with dried basil. And that I like bread with cream cheese that is sprinkled with dried basil. There’s no pressure. My oldest will ask “what does that taste like?” and I’ll tell him what it tastes like so that he’s prepared so that instead of thinking that a mango will taste like sweet potato he’ll know that it tastes sort of like peach and pineapple together, with the feeling of a peach. They know that they’re allowed to spit out anything that they don’t want and my 2.5 year old will come over, take my hand and spit out the unwanted food. My six year old will tap me and point at a bowl or a napkin and I’ll let him spit it out there. They don’t spit food on the table or floor, and they don’t reject new foods out of the fear that they’ll “have” to eat them.

9- Letting my children own their mistakes. Something breaks or spills? I come over, make a statement. “Oh. Jeez. What a mess. Okay.. Let’s think.. What do we need to do right now?” I see if they come up with an answer. Apologies and coming up with a plan for how to avoid the mistake the next time are starting to be a part of the cleaning up of the mess. I involve them in MY mistakes. If I drop a plastic cup of water and it spills I see what solutions they come up with, and I apologize for spilling their water. I’m seeing the payoff in that my oldest is becoming a bit less resistant to apologies. (Although he still becomes wayyyyy resistant to apologies whenever he’s been forced to apologize in another environment.)

10-  Encouraging my oldest to come up with his own ways to express gratitude instead of saying “thank you”. He struggles with words that he has been pushed to say too often. So instead we’re working on how he can describe how he feels after someone gives him something instead. “I was SO happy when you got me this because I love it like birthday cake!” actually IS a much better thank you than “thank you.”

 

What parenting choices have you made that have paid off? Were they things that came to you at the spur of the moment, or were they things that you always planned on doing?

What Does This “Love” Thing Look Like?

Dear Daughter,

You are ten months old today. I can’t count the number of times each day that I whisper to you “I love you”. A tradition that I started with your oldest brother, and that I carry down with each of you as babies, as toddlers, and as old as you grow.

You were not born knowing what “love” means, it’s another word to you- like “fish” and “dog” and “it” and “that” and “come” and “go”. It’s a word that rolls and buzzes against your cheek. It’s another word without meaning until you see it, feel it, and come to know what it is. It’s a word that you need to be taught, like every other.

What does this love thing look like?

It looks like countless kisses planted on the top of your head, on your cheek, on your neck as you giggle. It looks like a kiss on your forehead every time I buckle you into your car seat or stroller. It means a kiss on the cheek every time I hand you over to your grandpa, your daddy, your gramma. It means a kiss on your cheek in greeting every time they hand you back.

It looks like a smile on my face when you wake up, no matter what time of the day or night. No matter what I have on my to-do list that just got derailed by a too-short nap. No matter whether you can see my lips curl up in the dark of the night when I’d really rather be sleeping but when I hold you instead.

It looks like my hand seeking out your head, your shoulder, your back as a place to rest when you are near. A physical way of reminding you that I am there if you need me.

It looks like a reassuring smile when you fall and are afraid and I show you each place that you bumped and how each part of you is okay.

It looks like excitement as I show you new things, offer you new foods. Look for those songs that your brothers liked when they were small, so that you can listen to them too.

It looks like warmth along my collar bone where I tuck your hands to let the coldness fade after you’ve been playing outside. I welcome your cold touch against my skin, rather than shying away.

It looks like pulling you closer when you throw up, rather than pushing you away. It looks like understanding if it’s scary, and holding you near until I’m sure that you don’t need me to. And it means smiling to let you know that you’re fine, I’m fine. Cleaning you before I clean myself, before I clean anything else.

It looks like picking you up when you reach for me or when you cry out to let me know that you want to be held again.

It looks like all the tiny things that I do in order to show you your value to me. To show you that “love” is not an empty word. It is a word crammed full of meaning, of closeness, of heart and feeling. 

Love is never just a word hanging empty in the air.

<3 Mama