Thursday, February 6, 2014

Being Present with Children

I had a dream late in my pregnancy that I gave birth to what I called “The Big Buddha Baby”. In it, my daughter entered the world full force, all round-faced and chubby, happy and smiling.

buddha statue

I found my dream funny, because I'd read that some women dream of giving birth to babies with green heads or to animals like fish. I'd heard that the cause of this psychedelic dreaming is fear of the unknown and anxiety about giving birth. My dream was quite optimistic, not normally like my usual doom-and-gloom self.

I also thought my dream couldn’t possibly be prophetic, because I believed that babies generally come out scrawny, misshapen and not so happy to greet the world. Sure enough, with the exception of the smiling part, Claire was the epitome of "The Big Buddha Baby" -- weighing 8 pounds 6 ounces and with a full shock of hair. She continues to be at the 85 percentile of weight for her age, and the size of her belly is matched only by the roundness of her cheeks.

Her Buddha-like qualities go beyond the physical too.

When Claire was a really little baby, many people asked me if she were on a schedule yet. I was so perplexed by this question that I didn’t know how to answer. Like most children, my daughter was and is so fully in the moment.  More than me training her to be on a schedule, she has taught me how to be in the present. It's not something that comes naturally to me.

She's two and a half now. Just like when she was a baby, I lie with her while she's falling asleep.  I listen for that deep breathing -- the sign that she's dreaming of her own big Buddha. The breathy cadence of those little lungs breathing in and out, making that sweet, sweet baby version of a snore -- its 's a beautiful sound...when I'm really listening. Instead, I'm usually making a list in my head of all the things that I’m going to do during her slumber (most are very exotic -- like doing the dishes, checking my email or going to the bathroom)…

Then, she wakes up. I'm crestfallen. “Wait, I’ve just gotten her to sleep! What about all those things I’d planned?” I think. If I’m not careful, my expectations become more important than being with my child.

Sometimes, I get so ahead of myself, I’m sure I can predict the future. Claire usually finds a way to surprise me. My husband, George, will come home late at night and I will say pessimistically, “I’ve tried everything to get her to sleep, and I’ve been at it for hours! She's NEVER going to go the f7&k to sleep!"

He’ll say, “Here, let me try”....She’ll be asleep in five minutes.

I think, “Wait! I just tried the same thing. It didn’t work!”

Would I rather be right or have her asleep? The latter, for sure.

Of course, there are things that need to get done, and I would absolutely, 100% be lying if I said that the fact that I can't get her to fall asleep doesn't drive me crazy. The need for  mommy "me" time is important too.

But that's beside the point here. The point is that I can get lost in my own head thinking about this problem or that thing on my to-do list. I can be completely sure that I know what's going to happen next.

Suddenly, I look over at Claire, and she's smiling. Her eyes are piercing the darkness, while her nose crinkles. Sometimes, she will touch her hand to my cheek and say, "Mama!"

That moment contains a lifetime of fulfillment. I almost missed it.

Linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday, "My best dream ever was..."

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Photo Source: Jowo Sakyamuni, Flickr


  1. I know exactly how you feel. I can't wait to get my son to bed at night so I can "get stuff done." And this is after I've worked all day, so I usually only see him for a few hours. But I am trying to do the same thing, to be in the moment and appreciate my time with him, because I do love spending time with him. He's such a happy little cherub like your daughter. :) This morning, I woke up late when he crawled into bed next to me. He said something along the lines of, "I love you! Give me the biggest hug ever!" So I put aside my impulse to jump out of bed and run to the shower and snuggled for a bit. We were late today, but we were happy. :)

  2. It is so hard to live in the moment. AND it is even harder to let dad take over. I always think I can do it better or if I failed how could he possibly succeed? I also get jealous when he does!!! Glad to know I am not alone. Or alone in the knowledge that as mom, we are seriously the most favorite person in the world of our daughters. Kind of like a super cool super power.

  3. I was just reading in All Joy and No Fun that part of the problem for parents is our children are always in the moment, while we are always thinking about the future. I love that Claire is your Buddha baby! :)

  4. OMG Rachel. I don't really even know where to start because this post reminds me that while there are moments when I think "NOT ANOTHER MINUTE and "he's all yours" to my son's dad, that when those moments happen, I'm jealous, and miss my little boy like crazy. Parenting is nuts. It's all of the in-betweens, isn't it??? The moments living stuff happens. Which is amazing. But it's always so brief. That perfect moment, that ALWAYS is interrupted by hurt, whining, or just the whole not getting it thing. This is such a perfect post in a billion ways and I love it.

  5. Oh, those sweet baby snores! Love those!

    I am a wanderer too. Always. I have to make a conscious decision to stay in the moment. I hate it sometimes because I think I miss some sweet stuff. Sigh.

    I can't sign in with my blog on here ... but I'm Jen @ Real Life Parenting

  6. such a sweet dream and am glad you had that instead of those weird

    babies are adorable and sure as a mom there is a to do list but time just flies by esp when they are asleep :)
    have a good weekend, rachel.

  7. Such a contradiction isn't it?? We just want a few minutes, but then we worry that we are missing something important. And, it is rather annoying when the hubby steps in and makes it seem so easy! :-)

  8. It's always sweet to watch a little one sleep.

    I need to work on staying in the moment. My mind tends to wander a lot too.

  9. Oh, Rachel, I so struggle with this. Sometimes I have to rock my toddler back to sleep in the middle of her nap, and I always experience a moment of frustration that whatever I was doing (usually on my computer) has been interrupted. Then she snuggles against my body and I remember how few months we really get to do this. You're right- nothing is more important. And I love the image of Claire as a little Buddha baby- so sweet!

  10. such a beautiful important message. i can't wait for my buddha baby!

  11. So sweet. It totally is a struggle. I have a 20 month old & he's pretty independent now but when he's sick, he's very snuggly. I know he's not like this often anymore so I take advantage of it. I need mommy time as much as anyone else, so it's tough when he takes a short nap. It's a daily struggle for sure. Bianca @ Rant Rave Crave

  12. I remember when I was pregnant with my youngest son, I was having a dream that I was having him. Thankfully I woke up because it seemed so real because I think I was actually pushing in my dream. Yikes, it was still a bit early.

    Most of the time my husband can put my youngest down without a fight. Mom's are born to be the nurturing ones and I am a softie sometimes. It comes back to bite me in the butt sometimes though. But I try to enjoy the snuggles because they won't last forever, I know I have two older children too.

    Mom's savor those snuggles.

  13. Beautifully said! I always let my son decide on his 'schedule', I just wanted him to be happy and at over 2 years, I help him sleep too. Claire sounds like a lively and happy little girl!

  14. Such a sweet post!! It's very transparent what a good mommy you are...and what a lucky little girl Claire is (and vice versa). :)

  15. Oh Rachel, this is and was so me!!! I still lay down with Isaiah and he's 8. And you know what? I still think of what I would/will do when he falls asleep. And I also sometimes thing I could let him fall asleep by himself and I'd already be doing those things. And then I think, how long until he says "Mom, I can do it myself already!" (with annoyance ;-) ) so for now, I put myself aside, because who knows how much longer I have with my little angel....
    You keep it up my friend, don't miss those moments. I feel sad already for the moments I will miss in the future...

  16. I love your perspective, and your writing. And love the listening to the belly breathing - the mindfulness is so important to our well-being. Thank goodness our kids are helping teach us this.


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