It was Friday when I experienced a deep connection with my son. For the first time since he was born more than two and a half years ago. I was so happily calm and savored all those moments had to offer me. It has been a long journey connecting with him, and I am aware it is going to be my lifetime task…
Connecting with a child is talked and written about countlessly often in books, articles and speeches about parenting… Although advice how to do that is offered, but what to do when I did everything mentioned and everything what popped up in my mind, and the connection just never happened… I felt awful reading about how essential connecting with your child is. With every other attempt to connect I felt more and more exhausted and helpless. In months and years I slowly got better and could enjoy at first rare happy moments with B., later they were more and more often and longer. Then I started to understand him and help him with his feelings. But what happened on Friday was something different. I knew what his reaction would be, I knew what he is about to think or do. He probably knew the same about me…
With that happy calmness also a grief came to me. Why did connection come after such a long time? Why not before when I tried so hard and needed it so much? Could I do something more or something else? Why now when my parental leave comes to an end? When are we going to make up for that lost time, that time without deep connection?
And with that happy calmness an envy came to me. Why do all women seem to be happy with becoming moms? Why do they seem to be so physically fit right after giving birth and months later? What did I do wrong? How can they be so happy that they light up the street as they walk with their baby in a sling? Why it is not at all how I imagined?
A fear came to me with that happy calmness. How did all that influence relationship between B. and me? How is our relationship going to evolve in the future? Is he going to be addicted to drugs as a psychotherapist told me he would be if I do not connect with him? Is he going to hate me, because I ruined his childhood?
I hushed all these feelings, because I wanted to pay attention just to me and B. connecting to each other. I intended to come back to them later, what I am doing now while writing this post.
B. and I were home alone, as M. was exceptionally working out of the house. We had such a busy and smooth day – we managed to do laundry, dishes, clean up the kitchen, play together, rotate books, have two long reading sessions, rest and many more. After resting we watched videos. After about forty minutes I said we will watch the last video and after that we will go outside. B. agreed. When video was finished, he wanted to eat. So I told him that after eating we will go outside. However, he did not eat, he was just playing with food, and it started to be obvious he wanted to delay our departure from home. I cleaned up food he had in front of him.
He refused to get dressed, so I got dressed myself. He refused to get dressed afterwards too. Screaming, crying. At first just him, then both of us. I know he loves going outside and I do not understand why this opposition takes place more and more often… So I put him into his crib. And I took him out – we are going outside! More screaming and crying on both sides. I could not bear the idea of us staying inside for the third day in a row. And thinking about staying inside again tomorrow made me furious.
Suddenly he raised his hand, his palm facing my face and through sobs, crying and screaming he said: “Klud!” Which could be freely translated as “Peace!”
I was not sure if I understood him well, so I asked about what he said. He repeated with the same gesture: “Peace!” We both stopped, he just stood up and came to me to hold him in my arms. We cuddled and snuggled; swiftly, we were both relaxed in each other’s arms. Then I explained him how it frustrates me when he does not do what we agreed on… He stroke my hair and it felt like he is years older and understands what happened and what led to that situation. Then I asked him what was wrong. He did not answer, just looked at me. I told him how I do not understand why he wants to go outside, then not, then yes again and no again…
Surprisingly he wanted to get ready for outside, thus I put him on the floor. He took a piece of toilet paper and wiped my eyes of tears. He seemed to be so mature. And I asked him, whether he knows that he just stopped this horrible situation with his “Peace!” and I imitated his gesture. A smile appeared on his face and he summed up everything what happened since the “Peace!” moment several times – while we were getting him dressed for outside.
We understood each other without words
It was very windy and cold outside, it even started to snow. We took our bird watch tally sheet for counting birds. B. chose a suitable path for birdwatching, we explored in woods, even found some feathers. He carried sticks and every time we heard a bird sound we quietly stopped, looked at each other and looked for the bird we just heard. Just gestures, looks and facial expressions were enough to communicate. We understood each other. When he was walking behind me, I knew what he was doing even without looking at him. And when I turned, yes, I was right.
When we were so cold that we felt uncomfortable, I said let’s go home. For a few seconds it seemed he will have a hard time, but he could manage it quickly. Moreover, he needed to go to toilet. And he could hold it for about fifteen minutes until we came home! My grown-up son…
Our journey to connection
In the evening I could not believe what happened during the day with the “Peace!” moment. It was so incredible! I was thinking about those small steps which led to this moment. There were so many I could think of, I cannot choose one. I think it was combination of many factors, also those I cannot even think of.
- helping myself:
- re-learning how to relax
- re-learning how to sleep (using guided meditations)
- exercise (yoga, hormone yoga, belly dance, morning stretches)
- rest (e.g. reading books just for fun)
- engaging senses in ordinary activities
- setting daily routine
- organized household
- B. getting older, growing up and understanding more things
- conversations about difficult situations (B.’s and mine)
- calming basket
It made me feel content to realize that I made so many steps that probably helped me and us to have such beautiful moments and our relationship enriched. My previous feelings of grief, envy and fear were overcome with content; therefore happy calmness could flood my whole body. Suddenly, I had responses to all my earlier complaints. I knew I could not do anything more, I did nothing wrong. The time we spent together in previous years was not lost. I do everything what I can do now to have my relationship with B. as I imagined it. It is a journey of life.
Note: Photographs are not taken on the memorable Friday (March 5, 2021).