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.