Sara turned 6 months old this week. This milestone really hit me (I mean, I’m nuts. I think about crazy things, like 2.5% of our time with her in our home is over (given 18 years in theory) and how fast it’s all going…) and while I’ve been meaning to write this post since I started the blog, now I have to. A few weeks ago I was sitting at my computer, hammering away on something (probably schoolwork…) when I suddenly realized how quiet it was. Although I am a new mommy, even I know that’s usually bad. In the half second before I looked up to check on her I could just see poop everywhere, her facedown and unable to breathe, or a toy smothering her. Well, thankfully, none of these met my eyes. What did were her eyes. She had stopped playing her piano, kicking her feet, and jibber jabbering to look at me. As soon as our gazes met she broke out in this huge smile that is just indescribable. She just wanted to be seen. Of course, there was an intense flood of guilt that broke over my now warmed heart as I grinned back at her and sat down in front of her to get a better look.
One of the truest things I’ve heard thus far about raising children is that the days are long but the years are short. Cliche, perhaps- but true. Days are sooo long-pump, feed, play, pump, schoolwork, dishes, pump, laundry, cook, pump, play, REPEAT. But these last six months have been a blur. We brought her home from the hospital yesterday, she rolled over last night, and now she’s half a year old? What?! It’s flown and I miss her littleness already. I realize that sometimes I get caught up in the rest of the world that I don’t always see my daughter. I don’t see that she just wants to be part of the action. That she deeply desires to be looked at, touched, and felt. Sure, I read her books, dance and sing with her, and fulfill her basic needs but as with other people I think sometimes we don’t take time to SEE our loved ones. Whether it is our neighbor, sister, mother, husband, or children we go through our daily lives with this idea that they’ll always be a part of it. As I am all too quickly learning, that’s a false reality. Even if everyone is physically there, they change. Sara today is so much different than she will be another six months from now. And while she may not remember these moments to tell her therapist in twenty years, I will. And as I firmly believe about just about every aspect of childrearing, it’s all about exposure. I want to expose her to books not because she can read but so she learns to love them. I want to give her a million different foods not because she’ll love them all but so that she can develop tastes for different things and learn to try them willingly and with excitement. I want to sing with her not because I’m Celine Dion but because I want her to feel joy and thrill in good music. I want to look at her, to see her, every single day so she knows she’s here purposefully. I want her to know that she is seen and valued and loved and not taken for granted. I want her to know these things so that she can look at others, to see them for who they are. I want her to know that she is seen and acknowledged so that she grows up to be a strong woman who isn’t afraid to look around the world and decipher what she should be looking at and what she can leave behind her.
I know, this sounds a little heavy for six months, but it starts somewhere, doesn’t it? Children need foundations of love and respect and to give them that they need to feel included in your life, not exist on the periphery. I have observed thoughtfully many types of parenting. There’s the center-of-the-world child who is materialistically spoiled and coddled with parents afraid to say no in fear of a future therapy session. There’s child who is an afterthought- a glorified pet that needs fed, told “no!”, and their bills paid. And, most commonly, some shade in between. I firmly believe that children your children are a part of your life, but everything you do shouldn’t revolve solely around them. They should learn to be a part of a family not the dictator of it. They should be taught value without power. They should feel like an integral part of your life, not an afterthought. My daughter should know I see her. Not that I see her on the floor rolling around like a crazy baby (seriously, it’s realllllly cute and she’s going to give me a run for my money one day soon!), but that I see her – whoever she is, whatever she chooses to be, I see my child. I recognize a piece of me inside of her and I feel her role in our family.
It’s about a connection. Not a moment of connection you get once every few months or years that makes you feel a little fuzzy inside, but a real connection that is then nurtured and maintained. At six months old she requires precious little- food, diapers, sleep. Playtime, tummy time, sit ups, airplane baby are arguable necessities as well. But outside of the physical demands she is growing this beautiful mind and soul that it is my job to foster, to love, to guide, to feed. I want her to build a thoughtful mind, always considering who another person is before judgement. I want her to build a depth to her soul that is boundless and vast. I want her to feel her life and her place in ours. I want her to find her role in this world, creating one if she needs to. She’ll have to learn strength and grace and a million other things that will be built on a sense of self. To do that she has to know she is seen. At six months old, this one of the few acts she asks of me. “Mommy, See Me”, I do, baby girl.