Long before I was a parent, I was deep in the world of children and their magic. Now, I am raising my own little untamed humans, though I am still part wild.
The magic goes missing.
This weekend, my two sisters and I carried our four children and tons of stuff into nature, and we were all a bit wild, together. Day two, the smallest of the babes was more asleep than awake, but couldn’t let down. She is pretty sure her mama is a kangaroo, and she is a baby kangaroo, but…she doesn’t like to be confined.
She’s the sweetest bundle of business and determination, and swagger and no thank you, that I have probably ever met. She’s also pretty sure she’s boss, and mama gets no rest: set the lines, check the lines, break the lines, reset the lines. All day, every day, with noise and fuss.
She is not a great sleeper. (*By “not great,” I mean to say, “lousy, lousy, lousy.”) I call her “the Hot Popper,” and I’m so sorry to perpetuate stereotypes–she is a red-haired child. Mid-morning, and mid-fuss-rising, I stole the Hot Popper. I wrangled her from her efforts to impart irrational tyranny over my sister, tucked her into the cuddle pack, and walked off from the campsite.
I sang. She slept. When the sun cranked it up a notch, I retreated to the shady loop at the end of the campground. Arbitrarily, I thought, “ten laps should do it.”
I was grateful for this opportunity to walk, nurture the baby Popper, as well as my sister, and fill all of our cups a little. I am a mindfulness practitioner, and my go-to is loving kindness meditation.
I walked with “May you be strong. May you be nurtured by this life.” I wandered a lot that morning, all over the many things my brain wanted to pull me away to. I came back, over and over, with patience and diligence.
It was the fourth lap, in the shade of those trees, with my tiny niece on my back. Her breath and my breath. The quiet around me found its way in. Two more gentle, surreal laps, and she started to stir. One more lap, and I started back to mama kangaroo.
Children, and animals for that matter, don’t exist to shower us with their cuteness. They aren’t here to fill our depleted, too-tame, or wildish adult lives with love. Their magic is not ours to take.
But if you have the downright gift, of a smaller and untamed being in your life, please understand–they are the messengers. They show us where magic is possible, and when we meet them there, and do the heavy lifting of good problem solving, we find it–together. Those are the ties that bind.
Call it misbehavior, disobedience, fussiness, attention-seeking, or tantrums. Call it whatever you want. Frankly, I have learned to call it an invitation.
We are sleep-deprived mammals, and sometimes jaded; wrought with emotion and reaction. They are tiny, sometimes egregious mammals, and they call on us to pull off the inconceivable. They are far more than cute; they are supernovae.
They will shine brilliant, explosive light right in our faces. They will illuminate the truth, along with our faults. Again and again, we will be standing there; soft and undefended, feral and reactive, or hidden so far away from the moment that it leaves us behind.
Next time, just step back, and catch some of that shit. It’s star dust. Fill your pockets with it, quietly. (They’ll need it back later, anyway.)
Sprinkle it on your face, and in your hair.
Roll up your sleeves, breathe, and contemplate–what magic can be found here? What magic can I make right now? Sometimes, it’s the simple win of not escalating things further. Other times, we’ve had sleep, and we amaze ourselves. And there will be epic fails.
Only star dust. And between the implosions, explosions, and chaos? Focus on the good stuff. Make more of it. Overwhelm your life with it. Then, take time for rest, and occasionally let the quiet in. You and your tiny nebulae will all be better off.