Yesterday I was looking at the photos from my brother’s wedding. Made me want to go to the party all over again. I clicked through the online set, choosing just a few for now, of me and my children. Who can resist great pictures of their kids?
The one of my daughter that I liked most showed her standing, holding a swaddled, sleeping baby. She’s smiling at the camera, wearing a tight-fitting flowered dress. In the best picture of my son he stands at the side of a cream-colored wall, looking off, slightly bearded, dark eyebrows. Pictures are particularly good at reminding you of what your kids look like now and replacing the image kept alive in your mind’s eye. Even if they fail to explain quite when the change happened.
I have been thinking about that swaddled baby. I had put him to sleep because his mother was one of the bridesmaids, time to dress and fluff. It was easy, putting the baby to sleep. I just walked outside the dressing room, bouncing, and humming. You know exactly what I mean.
I didn’t know that baby at all. Had no idea what he liked or didn’t like. In this case, there was little of the usual watching and responding. But I had many hours of baby bouncing under my belt, so I just did what I knew, consistently, making a few adjustments here and there as I figured out how that particular baby preferred to be held. I felt no anxiety, just full body happiness. I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing and, unlike when my children were little, would not despair if I failed.
Bouncing soothes babies because it mimics our harvesting and planting movements. It’s as close as most of us can get to providing an infant with the experience of sharing a working mother’s life, before civilization reared its abundant and demanding head.
I imagine there’s a parallel in relating to our adult children. Sometimes you’ve got to respond inventively. Pay attention, full focus, all systems on high. Some other times you have to do what you have to do. Tend to your own particular fields. Or Candide’s garden, for that matter. Take the kids along, making an adjustment here and there.
It helps to choose a song you like to hum.