Thursday 18 October 2012


There you are.

I always whisper it to them, my babies, when their gaze locks with mine. Ah. There you are. We smile and coo and make faces and all is right with the world as we look into each other's eyes.

I get it, now, why the toddler is so intent on seeing her eyes. "Where did her eyes go?" he asked at first, whenever she was sleeping. "I want to see her eyes."

(It took a couple days to convince him not to pull her eyelids open whenever they were closed.)

She fusses, squirms, cries, looks wildly around the room or scrunches her eyes shut tight. I whisper her name softly, lean closer until her eyes catch mine. "There you are," I smile, and she calms.

* * *

He's two, so very two, and some days I weary of the crying. I want to empathize but I also want to roll my eyes, it's just a toy, calm down, dismissing him right along with his feelings.

But I pull him onto my lap instead and as I do, I catch his own searching gaze. And there are his eyes, his wide toddler eyes with their beautiful long lashes, right now so very sad over the injustice that occurred over that toy.

Ah. There he is. And I can dismiss him no longer.

* * *

He's five and his words come out angry, passionate, and I fire back with passionate anger of my own. "You will not speak to me that way! I am your mother! You will not be rude to me!"

He defends himself, I yell more about his constant arguing with me, he defends again, I yell again. Such a foolish endless cycle.

"I'm not trying to be bad! I never try to be bad!" He yells it through his tears and I know it's true, I know his good heart, but it's so easy to pretend otherwise when I'm not looking at him. It's so easy to pretend he's doing it on purpose, he should know better!, easier to criticize wrong than it is to teach right.

But I lift my eyes and look into his and I can't deny it any longer.

Ah. There you are. I'm so sorry I stopped seeing you.

* * *

I've been holding the baby all evening as she fights sleep. My head hurts and my work remains undone but at last she gives in. I leave the room for a glass of water and there are the dinner dishes, there is the afternoon mess on the living room floor, there is more work to add to my list of not done.

I give him the cold shoulder, refuse to even look at him. The words fly hot and fast inside my head but outside is only the icy silence. He asks a question and I shrug wordlessly, keep my gaze focused firmly on the dishes I'm now washing.

If I look at him then he'll see the hurt behind my anger. Anger protects me; I've never been good at vulnerability. And I know that as soon as I let myself look at him, my anger will fade, it always does when I see the concern in his eyes. He may be thoughtless at times, but not intentionally so, and his eyes always reveal the truth in that.

But I can't avoid it forever. Eventually I look.

Yes, there you are. I remember now.


  1. This is a BEAUTIFUL post. It hit home with me very much. In fact, half way through, I started crying. My daughter is two, and it's so easy to become so aggravated and forget to empathize.

  2. Oh my, it's like you wrote my week better than I could. (Certainly more beautifully.) The moment I realized I was staring at the floor during our meal-time prayer and refusing to look at my preschooler in the eyes because I was too angry and ashamed, that's when I realized everything was off-kilter here, too. Thank you for this.

  3. Hi, I've been following your blog for a few months now. Sometimes I feel like you're writing about my own life. I'm also mom to a 5-year old boy and 2-year old toddler boy. Baby #3 is on the way, a big surprise to all of us except our 5-year old. He's been praying for a baby sister for several months. We also co-sleep and homeschool. Somehow I need to figure out a way to change our sleeping arrangements before the baby arrives. I also need to figure out how to continue our home learning journey thru my "all day and night " sickness and then thru the zombie stage of newborn days.
    You seem to do it all with so much patience and love, and the way you write about your days reaches my heart. I usually cry as I read thru your stories! Thank you for sharing them!

  4. My children are 26, 24, 22...this brought back a flood of feelings AND I am happy to report that they are all three happy, fairly balanced young adults....but they do remember when I stopped looking at them...they remember and I can never change that. We do our best and love always wins. Thanks for your words, dear.

  5. That is so beautiful...thank you so much for sharing. The ironic thing is, I was nursing my toddler while reading this, and she babbled and hummed against me until I looked at her!

  6. Goodness. The tears are flowing. Thank you Sister x

  7. Aaaahhhh... vulnerability. You hit that nail on the head; squarely.

    I really appreciate these in the moment examples of *choosing* patience. I think such sharings help us see where we derail from the ways of parenting that we'd like into what may be more reactive, habitual. And you clearly show a simple way to get back on track. Thank you. :)