What happens next?

I want to tell you a story about a girl, a girl who does something wonderful. I don’t know exactly what she does yet, and besides thats not really the point, the point is that she does it.

She’s short of time and big of ideas, and she finds it easy to get… comfortable. She finds it easy to dig her toes in to where she is and think it’s perfectly ok. But inside she’s burning a bit too brightly for ok.

She doesn’t ask for much, but she should. She should demand it, because it’s all there for her and it suits her.

She has spent a lot of time accepting things that weren’t what she really wanted and talking about tomorrow…. but she’s beginning to realise that tomorrow feels an awful lot like today, and that she doesn’t want to wait anymore. She’s realizing that this is her time and she’s starting to look at things a little more closely.

She’s examining her dreams, the ones she’s carried around neatly for years and looking at them with grown up eyes. She’s deciding if they are what she really wants and if they’re going to feel as good lived as imagined. She’s asking herself what she *wants*, allowing herself to be selfish because she deserves to from time to time, and asking what she wants to give others too.

She realises when unpacking those dreams that her something wonderful can be all of them or none of them. Her something wonderful doesn’t have to be doing anything grand, it can simply be joy. Here, now.

She is done with brushing her shortcomings under the rug and even more done with feeling guilty about them. She knows that a sprinkling of flaws make a character more believable, and she is a very, very believable woman. But she’s taking one of those short comings from time to time and making a project out of it. She’s breaking habits that have been there for years because she CAN. She’s doing it because it’s hard, and because it feels so good to peel off a layer of herself that was just making her feel heavy.

She listens. To the people she cares about, to the things she may not want to hear, and to her own inner voice that had grown silent from not being really listened to. She trusts it. It’s smart. She’s smart, and she knows what to do to get there, or even just to really be here.

She is not going to glorify busy or slow anymore. She doesn’t have to follow the books or magazines. She has her own pace, her own rhythm and she’s going to embrace it.

She is going to fall in love again, every day. She’s going to fall in love with the things her husband (or friend or children) does that make her feel light. The things that make her laugh or that feel like home. She’s going to be driven mad, as always, by the difficult things they do too, and be grateful for that – because the opposite of love is indifference, and those things remind her she’s not indifferent at all. She’s going to say I love you even when she’s angry, and she’s going to reach out when she’s sad. She will let go of relationships that don’t serve her, maybe not today, but when she’s ready, because she can and the empowerment of that choice makes her feel light all over again.

For all the talk of examples for her kids she knows that the best one is being happy. It’s doing this very thing that she’s starting today; this something wonderful.

This is a story about a girl… what happens next?

 

believable woman Copyright 2015 Nirvana Dawson

 

These lessons that we learn again

 

He’s seven now, my eldest. It seems a lifetime from my age and yet I remember it like the toys I held close and the certainty that I could fly if I just wished hard enough.

He’s at the age now where it’s all coming together. Not always well, not always easily, but reality is creeping in in a way that it hasn’t for him before. Things are becoming more gloriously complicated. The shades of grey are there more than they were and we question together.

This age is full of lessons that life imparts and that I try to help him put into words. He learns them for the first time of many, and I remember them, knowing that I will again.

There are many different ways to learn

One is not better or more worthy than another. Faster is not better than slower. What you’re learning matters less than the fact that you are. Discover the way that clicks for you. If you do nothing else, do this. Find the way of learning that makes you hungry to keep doing it. No matter how hard you try you will never know everything, isn’t that exciting? But try. Try fiercely. Because if you try you are already winning.

 

Time management is important

We all have the same amount of time in a given day and all of it is precious. It’s up to you how you use it. Learn this now while you’re young. Be prepared to relearn it as you get busier and older. 

 

People want to feel good

Most things they do are round about ways to get to this end. If you’re enjoyable to be around people will want to be around you. If you’re kind people will admire you. If you see the good in people it will lift them up, and everyone needs lifting up from time to time. The world will forgive naivety, awkwardness and uncertainty. It will forgive most anything if there is a spark in you that makes others remember their own. 

 

The villain and the hero are in you

Not just in the story books and movies. They’re archetypes of parts of yourself and they battle in you quietly. The bully is not a cruel child without light, and the good samaritan is not an angel without darkness, they’re people who make choices when they feel too much. The small choices win the battle.

 

Don’t underestimate the power of walking away

It gets to be a lot sometimes. A lot of noise or a lot of closeness or a lot of emotion. Anger burns, sadness twists your heart and overwhelm makes you panic. Take a minute. Walk away. Breathe. Nothing is too big or little for this. Space, even for a moment, makes you remember who you were before ‘a lot’ got in your way. Space lets you choose wisely.

 

Life is both

Life is hard: it always will be. Life is beautiful: it always will be. It will exhaust you to your very soul and make you fly with joy. I hope you have enough of both so that you can experience their richness.

 

Remember the gates when you speak

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

You will forget these a million times over when ‘a lot’ gets in your way, but try to come back to them. These gates will define how others see you. And they will define how you see yourself.

 

Gifts are often disguised as challenges

Everyone has something that feels hard. Everyone has something that feels easy. Your hard things aren’t in your way; they’re gifts. They’re opportunities to be brave. You don’t know all the people you’ll meet in your life just yet, but that bravery will help them. There are so many different kinds of courage in the world and your special brand of it is perfect.

 

You don’t have to be good at everything, you just need to feel good doing what makes you happy

Don’t give in to the pressure of the world that’s always waiting with a never-ending to do list. You don’t need to be good at sports and music and art and cooking and acting and dance. You can be. You can put your mind to any of it and make it beautiful. But no ‘shoulds’ apply here. The world is full of people trying to do everything and not feeling any of it deeply. You might go through life with a hundred passions or a handful. They are your loves, no one can choose them for you. Fall into them joyfully and trust your heart.

 

There will always be have to’s

That’s okay. They make the want to’s so much sweeter.

 

Always question

Question your parents and society and the rules. Follow them, by all means, but question, because anything or anyone worth following will welcome your questions and get stronger with the answers. 

 

You can’t control the things outside yourself

Isn’t it scary? Isn’t it wonderful? 

 

Take holidays in your imagination

No matter how old or young you are. There are worlds waiting for you there. Beautiful and terrible and exciting and calm. You can control them… but you may choose to let them take you on a journey from time to time.

 

Motherhood is a strange creature, both tiring and wonderful. And a perfect time to dig your toes in to the present and let the lessons you’ve forgotten to wash over you. I’m grateful to learn and learn again.

 

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2015

Outtakes

We all have nutty days, and I like to photograph them.

I’ve always taken more photos on the days that feel like chaos – in the quiet moments, in the laughing moments, the moments in between the utterly normal madness of family life.

In the evening I can sit down and look back on the day that just exhausted me, and I don’t see the tantrum over the broken stick or the kids arguing in the car, I don’t hear “he LOOKED at me!!” or two boys in mad debate about who got into the garage first… I see the joy. It’s always there. There’s always so much happiness in between the moments that drive us mad on those days. There’s always giggles between the whinging, always delight between the cranky faces. There are adventures of huge dogs or lizards eating apple by the beach, there are sand castles and hermit crabs to find and sunshine that could melt winter.

Those are the highlights and they look so good in photographs.

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Then again… what about the rest?

We always laugh at outtakes don’t we? But we often forget to laugh at our own outtake moments, the ones that don’t quite make the cut. Admittedly it’s not always funny at the time when you’re asking your toddler not to lick his shoe, or being given an extensive booger collection. It doesn’t always make you smile when your child can’t possibly poo in a public toilet because it’s not sparkly enough, or when your shopping trolley keeps going missing when you turn around, but later… I think I’m going to start capturing some of those moments too.

You see I didn’t really appreciate our outtakes today. I was tired, and they didn’t feel funny then. But tonight I went through photos and I found this one…

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It summed up today perfectly.

I think I’ve been missing a lot on these nutty days. I’ve wanted to capture the good bits to make memories, forgetting that the best memories are loud and colourful and feel a bit like madness at the time. The chaos of these days is as fleeting as the cuteness, and maybe I’ll appreciate it a little more if I mix up my highlights with the outtakes.

Because honestly, you can’t help but laugh can you?

A Birth Story

Two weeks ago today, right about now, I called the hospital.

I had felt well and strong pretty much my whole pregnancy. I had trusted my body to birth my baby, trusted so much that I let go and barely considered the alternative. This time, after two csections, I would birth. I would bring my baby into this world myself and lift her onto my chest, and I would gaze into her eyes and think “I did it.”

I imagined that moment so many times it was almost tangible, and whenever I thought of it I would well up with emotion from two births already lost.

But that night, with that phone call, I had to put it aside.

It was my second day of fever, and I was burning up. I was so unwell that I could barely make it to the bathroom and I shook from head to toe with cold then sweated until I was drenched. Everything was fine, my Ob had said without seeing me, but it wasn’t, I wasn’t, so I arranged to go into the hospital.

We know sometimes, but don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to say things out loud in case our words make them true… and that was the car ride. I knew, even as I rubbed my belly and my head throbbed with fever, both that I needed to be going to the hospital at that moment, and that I would not be birthing my baby. There would be no “I did it.”

We were barely on the monitors for fifteen minutes before they ran in with gowns and phoned the on call Ob. We were going to theatre, and the machines cried out in alarm at my pulse and her sky high heart rate that plummeted with each contraction.

They all say “how are you?” when you’re being rushed in to surgery. That never made much sense to me. I wonder if I’m the only one who answered honestly.

In a brightly lit theatre that night my beautiful baby girl was cut from my belly, just like her brothers had been, by a man wearing gumboots.

I shook from fever and the spinal in my back, and surrounded by strange faces I prayed for it to be over even as my blood stained the screen in front of my face.

I thought, when I had imagined my birth, that I would feel so strong bringing this baby into the world. I didn’t feel that at all. But as the weeks have passed I’ve realized that I was strong, perhaps stronger than if I had pushed her out myself.

I was so strong that I said no to gas, because I didn’t want to miss her for a moment, even though I was feeling pain of the cesarean from a spinal that hadn’t quite worked. I was so strong that I breathed through it and didn’t take my eyes off her even as she was whisked away.

Sometimes, I’ve realized, strong doesn’t feel like it at the time. It feels like scared. It feels like sad. But it also feels like digging your heels in and doing it regardless because there’s something bigger than you at stake. That’s birth, no matter how it happens. It’s being faced by something so overwhelming that you realize that you can, no matter what.

Just as fear and strength can be unlikely roommates, so can grief and celebration. Over the days that followed I grieved the birth I’d wanted, even as I celebrated the daughter I had.

I wondered why my body couldn’t do this natural, primal thing. Why not one of my three beautiful babies could have been born without theatre lights and gumboots and that awful needle in my hand. Why I had birth pictures that were best zoomed out, because if you looked too close you could see the cut.

I regretted hoping and trying and every moment of trust, as though the outcome could have been any different without the calm before the storm.

Then the storm eased… because I realized some things.

I’ll never know. I’ll never know what could have happened otherwise. I’ll never know “why”. That’s hard for me to accept, but I can do hard things, and just as I could spend those months trusting my body, I can still do that. I can trust that maybe that messily imperfect birth was the birth my body and baby needed. I can accept that I’ll never know, and that’s ok.

My body does things well – a lot of things. It grows beautiful healthy children, and nurtures them with milk and cuddles. It heals beautifully. It knows how to calm impossible meltdowns and turn bad dreams sweet.

And as I accept that I can’t control how birth happens for my babies, and let go of that “I did it” that I craved, I can plan some truly wonderful things that I can experience. Things I can look forward to with my family. Adventures in life after birth with gumboots.

Like exploring Las Ramblas in Barcelona one day, under the hot Spanish sun. Like buying my kids enormous ripe cherries from European fruit markets, the kind that pop up on street corners, and watching them giggle as the juice stains their chins and shirts.

Like laying in the back yard on a blanket in summer and pretending to find UFOs in amongst the impossibly infinite stars.

Like sipping a hot cup of tea after a long day with a happy heart.

Like high fiving my sons or daughter when they achieve a milestone and I have been blessed enough to witness it.

Like driving through Tuscany with my family, or walking over smooth stones of the pebbled beaches of the south of France.

Like watching my children hold hands as they explore rockpools in summer.

There are so many. So many exquisite moments to come. So many that will surprise me, delight me and make me laugh from the bottom of my soul. And whenever I miss that “I did it” moment that I’d dreamt of, I’m going to dream of them instead, and allow myself to imagine all the adventures ahead, that will be so much sweeter with my babies by my side.

So on that note, I’d like you to meet Aria. Isn’t she beautiful? :)

Aria

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2014

Your Book

I love you and I’m proud of you.          

I try to show you how special you are to me whenever I can and slip little I love you’s into everything. But some days the other stuff is louder. The “come here”, “listen”, “we have to”, “stop” or “just a minute”.  It’s part of growing up, along with climbing trees and silly jokes and those times when you’re scared of the dark… but the I love you’s should always feel bigger. Bigger than the reminders, the trips and falls, and far bigger than the meltdowns or tears that sometimes find you along the way.

So this is your book, little one. And every night, once your eyes finally close, Daddy and I will write in it for you. We’ll write a different thing each night that we have loved about you that day, a different thing that we’re proud of. There are so many, I doubt we’ll ever run out. When we fall asleep we’ll have that memory on the tips of our minds, ready to dream about.

In the morning when you wake you’ll find this book beside your bed and every day the story of you will slowly fill these lucky pages.

Growing up is one of the most amazing adventures you will ever have. There are twists and turns and ups and downs and moments of laughter and tears. But this is your adventure, and it’s you that makes it special. I hope that opening this book every morning reminds you just how special you are and that nothing is more important than the good bits.

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Missing the obvious

There is nothing unusual about missing the obvious. We forget that sometimes as adults, especially as parents. So determined to be examples for our kids we lose sight of the frequency of our stumbles. We forget, in our strength, to be humble.

I was frustrated this week by my son’s struggle to learn what seemed like a simple case of cause and effect. Obviously this choice will lead to that outcome, I mean why wouldn’t it? It has hundreds of times before. We had talked about it, explained it, acted it out and tried every other version of making it click. It was so simple really, wasn’t it?

Then I thought about myself. About how many times I have repeated choices whose outcomes I knew with my eyes closed.

I thought about us, all of us, and how many times we have made choices that have affected our health – what we put in our mouth every day even as we lament our weight or energy levels, the choice to procrastinate precious time away when we could be moving, sweating, breathing more fully.

How many people have chosen to get drunk, wasting their bank accounts, their pride and precious brain cells only to spend nights they can’t remember with people they don’t particularly like.

How all of us have wasted – our money, our time, our friendships, our love, before we learned how to choose experiences with value.

How often we still act with instinct, rather than the minds and hearts we pride ourselves on, only to end up exactly where we expected and nowhere near where we wanted to be.

And how many of us, right in this very moment, could change so many things if we chose, and revolutionise our lives.

None of us are victims, not of habit, not of circumstance and not of fortune. We’re a beautiful messy collection of choices and we’re creating ourselves, right now.

I don’t expect you to get this today, don’t worry, I probably wont either, not totally. I’ll think I will, with the false confidence of being an adult, until the next time little boys playing duplo remind me to be humble.

One day they’ll be tall enough and wise enough to call me on my choices, just as I help guide them through theirs. Until then I’m thankful for the push parenting gives me. The way it reminds me how very much growing up we all have to do, and how simple our beautiful messy choices really are.

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 Copyright 2014 Nirvana Dawson

 

 

 

Drawers full of stories

I never planned on hand me downs. I felt certain, in that over confident new parent kind of way, that I wanted my children to have things chosen just for them. Things that would express the individuality of who they were, rather than fitting into someone else’s. We would be rich enough, I reasoned.

I can’t quite recall how long that idea lasted, but it did involve passing on piles of toys and clothes. Somewhere along the way I began keeping things, and packed them away, unsure of their value. Still certain that my next little person would be so very much themselves that they would need clothes and toys to match.

How I ever thought my little ones individuality could be lessened by anything is beyond me.

Sebastian is almost two now. He has new clothes, bought fresh and just for him – he also has hand me downs.

Not just drawers of clothes but drawers of stories. They’re not just the shorts he’s wearing to the beach this morning, they’re the shorts we picked out in Zurich on a hot summers day, that his brother wore when his hair was still blond and his voice still small. The Viking t-shirt isn’t just cute, it’s days at the park filled with giggles before he was born, and hide and seek when his brother always used to hide in the same place. The red pajamas are him, but they’re also his brother making cubby houses under the sheets, they’re nursery rhymes sung back the front by a little boy who came before him who fiercely wished for a brother of his own (and had christened him “Mashtoe”). Sebastian isn’t any less himself when he wears his hand me downs, but he is a little more “them”. And in my naivety I couldn’t have comprehended the beauty of that.

Bodhi loved diggers when he was two. Unlike cars, which were a momentary curiosity, diggers enthralled him. Every day for almost a year he made us read his favourite book that talked about all kinds of heavy machinery in great detail. He would sit, fascinated, listening to the same facts and figures as he cradled his toys. He loved his digger toys. Some came from Switzerland, some Italy, some the shop down the road; little model diggers and graders, loaders and forklifts. He would carry them everywhere, even fall asleep with them clutched tightly in his hand.

He didn’t dug with them once.

They were held, admired, sometimes tentatively moved back and forth but never ever really played with. That was him. The idea of dirtying toys meant for dirt appalled him, so they sat in a box, paint only faded from endless caresses by sweaty toddler hands. Along with the cars he had barely registered he owned.

Sebastian ran around the house today, as he so often does, driving Bodhi’s old cars and trucks and diggers along tables, floors and shelves. He humms like an engine, crashes them, races them and makes tunnels from books. The diggers dig, the graders grade. The cars are parked in their freshly made garages. Those toys, the dusty forgotten vehicles are alive again. Alive for the first time really, because this is different in a way I was a fool to think it wouldn’t be. “Mine.” Sebastian says, hugging them, and they are. They are his, just as they were his brothers.

Those toys, those clothes, those things that make memories are both of them. They are their stories, waiting to be remembered.

Years ago I figured we would be rich enough not to use hand me downs. How wrong I was. The richness in this has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with memories best worn and played with. It has to do with sharing; laughs, cuddles and moments made together, played out years apart.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Toddler Tips to keep your parents on their toes

 (Inspired by my beloved almost two year old)

  • Any reason is a valid reason to be picked up. If you don’t feel like walking any more burst into tears and scream “Can’t walk!!! TOO LAZZZYYYY!!!!”
  • Parents can become complacent while driving if silence prevails for more than thirty seconds. Use a mixture of techniques to keep them on their toes. This week mine are:
  1. “Watch out!!! On the road!!!!!” “What’s on the road?” “HUGE CROCODILE!!! QUICK!!! BIG SHARP TEETH COMING TO EAT YOUR HEAD!!!” *pause for thirty seconds then repeat with another fierce beast of your choice*
  2. “Happy!” *insert maniacal laugh with head thrown back and mad flailing of arms then return to complete neutral* “Sad!!!” *drop lip and say, not cry “Wahhhh!” a few dozen times before reverting to happy*
  3. If anyone in the car looks too relaxed try accusing them of something. It doesn’t have to make sense. “No cows in there!! Just a man and pretty grass BODHI!” *glare fiercely at brother and shake head while jabbing a finger in his direction* Bodhi – “I’m not exactly sure what I did…”
  •  Singing is fun, but songs can get boring. To make them more interesting try replacing random words with “Poo”.
  • Your mother wants you to grow into a free spirited individual who thinks for himself. Remind her of this daily by ignoring her completely when she calls out to you.

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  • Diversion is the best form of defence. If you’re being naughty and your Mummy lovingly accuses you of being a troublemaker immediately accuse her of being a “chickenmaker”.  Her momentary pause will allow you to escape and wreak further havoc.
  • Parents love imagination. Show them that you have one by sharing stories with them. They also love adventure so make sure your stories feature volcanoes, lava raining from the sky, and fierce dinosaurs who like to eat Mummies and Daddies.
  • Love can be gentle and love can be fierce. Remind your Mummy of this while she’s putting you to bed by alternating between soft kisses and body slams to her face.
  • That is not breakfast, that is a physics experiment. Now see if you can make that sucker fly.Toddler 1
  • If your Mummy says anything you don’t like, such as come here, don’t touch that, listen etc just scream “Ow!!! Ow!!! Help!!” This is more effective if in public. Don’t let the fact that she hasn’t touched you put you off. For extra points smirk at her while you do it.
  • “Don’t do THAT!!!!” can, and should, be screamed at regular intervals regardless if anyone is doing anything or not.
  • That is not a Christmas tree, that’s a personal challenge. Aim for the glass baubles, the ones that bounce are boring.
  • Mummies like ladybugs so call everything you give her a ladybug, even if it’s actually a live roach. Her scream just means she’s excited.
  • Honesty is the best policy. If Mummy says “You’ve been a bit naughty this morning, are you going to be a good boy now?” say “No, but will be very cute.”
  • In tender moments stroke Mummy’s face gently and murmur “Aw, so old.” 
  • Ask for Daddy, then scream for Mummy when you get to him… then scream for Daddy when you get to her. It makes them both feel loved.
  • Everyone must be standing in your presence at all times. If Mummy offers you a hug while she’s sitting on the floor it is perfectly acceptable to throw back your head and wail in anguish while stamping your feet.Toddler 4
  • Flinging your arms around someone’s neck and saying “Love you SO MUCH!” makes them happy. Mix this in with the naughtiness to keep them on side.
  • If you’re feeling shy pretend you’re a statue. This works better if you’re in an odd posture at the time.
  • If Mummy tries to play peek a boo with you while you’re nude pretend that you heard poo instead and do one immediately. It will make the game memorable.
  • Snot is exciting and must be presented for inspection to everyone in the room.
  • Spontaneity is good. Having just done a pee in the potty is no reason not to pee on the floor 30 seconds later.
  • It’s good to appear in the know. If people are having an intelligent conversation interrupt frequently to say “Yeah of COURSE.”
  • Enthusiasm is everything. Soften the blow of waking Mummy up at 4am by leaping on her shouting “Hoorrrraaayyyy! Is morning!!!”
  • Last but not least, if you’re really cranky, just make this face….

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Spending Habits

Not long ago a friend of mine posted an image on Facebook. It was a screenshot of a spreadsheet her husband was working on to ensure that the way they were spending their time was in alignment with their core values. It was late, I scrolled past it, my brain registering a quiet grumble of protest that that sounded way too structured for me.

But my mind keeps coming back to it.

We talk to our children a lot about the spending of money. About the value we place on things. As a society we focus on a lot on those numbers, those figures we associate with value and happiness, security, intelligence. There’s a huge focus on dollars, which is interesting, because you can earn more.

You can’t earn more time, you can’t even borrow it.

We enjoy the luxury of believing we have a certain amount of it, but the truth is we don’t know. No one does. What we have with certainty is now – this day. The sad person, happy person, unfit person, healthy person, rich person and poor person, the bored person and busy person – they all have this. Their experience of it differs greatly, but we all build what we have from these moments.

We get caught up in the idea that we are what we think, that we’re our ideas, concepts and wants. It’s true, in part, but in a bigger part: we are this day. 

We’re what we do with the time we have.

How we spend it is our truth. The rest is words, assurances or excuses we use to build ourselves up or tear our dreams down. I’m talking about you, about me, about all of us.

Our time doesn’t lie, what we do with it is the most honest reflection of what matters to us.

When I was growing up my mother used to say “Whatever you’re doing, do it well. If you’re working, work hard, if you’re relaxing, relax fully.” I’m still getting the hang of this, most of us are.

I’ve admitted to myself in the past couple of weeks that I need to work on my spending habits, and not the wallet kind. I spend the most part of my days joyfully focused on my children, and I wouldn’t change that for the world, but there are still wonderful little pockets of time that I don’t use to lift myself up – and I can. There will always been housework, study or work, but in every day time exists that’s yours. How are you spending it?

That spreadsheet doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all….

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

To Have Shyness

In English they say you are something, as though your state at that moment defines you, you are thirsty, you are hungry, when in truth you’re not – they’re moments that pass, some delicious, some unpleasant, but you are so much more than any of them. In Italian and Spanish and probably many other languages I’m not wise enough to know they say you have thirst, you have hunger, right now, maybe not in an hour or a year or even tomorrow. It doesn’t define you, its just part of you in this very moment.

My little one has shyness. Eyes cast downwards in timid moments, stock still or running back to Mumma when it all gets too much, arms wide, crying that cry that seems to come straight from the baby still inside the walking talking little one.

And it’s frustrating sometimes. Because when it eases I see how beautifully he plays with other kids, I see the delight he takes in the interactions with others and the stories he tells us afterwards. So I put him out there – enough for all the scary bits to seem not so scary anymore, from the vantage point that feels most like home, be it mummas hip or just in the aura of someone who makes the world seem a little smaller.

Tonight, like so many nights, my boy ran around the house pushing his pink stroller, Peppa Pig tucked in neatly. He sang, he talked about his day, he made jokes, he played in the bath with me laughing so sweetly and freely that it made me soar. He talked to the stars, marvelled at a spider, tore around the house squealing with glee playing chasey and covered Daddy and I with kisses.

And I felt so intensely grateful for this little boy. This boy that has shyness right now. Because soon the world wont seem so big to him, people wont seem worth hiding from, my hip will seem too limiting, the urge to explore will get too much, he will chase others with that same gleeful squeal that he chases his family and they will be lucky enough to hear all the stories that bubble out of him.

I’m excited for him, for every one of those bits to come. I also feel blessed, because right now, when my shoulder is still a safe place to nuzzle into and when “Mumma” is still whispered like comfort, we know this boy, this fascinating little person, in a way that others don’t yet. Like a really amazing secret.  And in this moment, he is ours in a way that only the ones who have shyness are.

We have his jokes, his quirks, his funny faces that he pulls to make us laugh. We have the raw moments and the joyful moments and the moments of wild toddler abandon. Sometimes he lets others glimpse them too, before deciding that maybe our secret is best kept a little longer.

I am blessed to be the mother of a little boy who has shyness, just as I am to be the mother of a big boy who has none. As time passes they will have many other things, many other parts of themselves that wont define them any more than these ones do, they’ll just become pieces of the puzzle of who they are. For now I’ll just aim to be the one who has balance for them when they need it, and I’ll enjoy all the little moments that are ours to keep.

Sebastian