On Littleness

Recently I was gently chastised at the dentist for not doing a better job with Pippin’s teeth. I always intend to do better, but he’s now the proud owner of three permanent teeth and I guess it’s time to get my act together, dentally speaking.

The hygienist showed me how to lay him down with his head in my lap for a better angle and I had these insane visions of writhing children, but I dutifully gave it a try and you know what? They love it, and so do I.

It’s a hassle, for sure, but also a moment of fleeting sweetness. And it’s really brought home to me how often my day as a mother is rescued by a bit of physical touch anchoring me back in the present moment, to how very little these people entrusted to me are.

I have a friend who says that with her firstborn infant she’d sometimes have to carry him blinking into the bathroom when he woke up screaming at night and she was so tired she felt crumpled. She’d turn on the light and dazzle them both and abruptly remember: Oh. He’s so very beautiful, and so very small.

I’m a ways into motherhood now but it’s a lesson I’m still always learning. There are so many times a day when a disagreement or sheer household volume can spiral out of control and I lose sight of the littleness of these people with such strong personalities. I am overwhelmed, and they feel so BIG: looming, crushing.

Then it’s helpful, when I remember, to open my arms and close him in a hug around a small but passionate set of bird-wing shoulder blades. To gather up a rambunctious little person into my arms and observe the surprisingly modest heft of her, growing swiftly every day. And yes, to cuddle each footie-clad child, one two three, onto the floor, into my lap, to look into their eyes as I scrub away, to remind myself: This isn’t forever. They won’t always be this sweetly small.

2 thoughts on “On Littleness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s