Letters from a Learning Mother

Nothing Less Than Wholehearted

My little boy doesn’t know how to express his joy in any way but with every fiber of his being. When he laughs, he throws back his head, smiles as wide as his cheeks will let him, and shows his two, new, pearly whites as he lets out little bursts of gleeful squeals.

Maybe he’s just extroverted and wants to let me know, but when he’s about to sneeze, he often lets out a passionate, attention-grabbing “a-“ before the “achoo” follows. And when he does, he pulls his knees and elbows to his middle and sprays everything in a ten-inch radius with spit – which is usually my face, regardless of his warning.

Nursing has become quite different from how it was in the early days when we spent hours cuddled up each day, peacefully gazing into one another’s eyes as my milk filled his belly. Now, he pulls back to inspect each and every sight and sound around him between almost every gulp. However, if he is really hungry, he growls like a little lion as he latches onto his source of nourishment and chugs his milk down with force, focused, as if his life depended on it.

There’s no mistaking when my five-month-old has grown tired. The earliest signs are when he starts rubbing his eyes and blinking a little slower than usual. He later lets out heavy sighs with his yawns and sometimes sounds similar to a howling wolf when he cries.

Sometimes, I wonder how such a small person can house so much determination. When Ellis sees something that he wants to investigate more closely, he purses his lips, opens his eyes as wide as they’ll go and refuses to blink as he grunts and flails his arms towards whatever has caught his attention until he’s able to successfully guide it to his mouth. A while back, he discovered that he could grab his feet. Still, he’s never satisfied until he’s chewing on his toes.

Similarly, we started solids a few days ago and Ellis has shown to be very enthusiastic about his baby food. He sits up a little straighter and begins slapping his hands on the table with his mouth wide open and attempts to grab the spoon loaded with orange mush out of my hand as it nears his face. This usually results in him flinging it onto both of us.

For a couple of weeks, lying on the changing table went from being his favorite spot in the house to the place he least wanted to be. As soon as his back touched the surface, he started to cry and made it quite difficult for me to get a clean diaper on him as he kicked fiercely and attempted to wriggle and roll away with all of his might.

I secretly wish he didn’t enjoy it so much, but our son is absolutely thrilled when his Daddy grabs him by the legs and dangles him upside down. He beams proudly and giggles if anyone’s eyes meet his own – and his expression remains that way until his Papa sets him down again. He also loves nothing more than to be flying for a moment when my husband tosses him up in the air. He erupts in sounds of utter delight each and every time. (One of the reasons I choose to let Daddy be Daddy.)

My son doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve – he wears it on his face and in the sound of his voice. He is loud and over the top, at times, completely unashamed in being seen and his emotions being discovered.

I wonder if maybe, to an extent, that’s something we were never meant to grow out of. I wonder how much healthier we‘d be, how our relationships would thrive, and how many dreams would come to life if we lived, rested, worked, loved, enjoyed, fought, celebrated and rejoiced with every ounce of our heart and soul. I wonder what it would be like to never put ourselves under the pressure to be anything but ourselves or to put on any face but our own.

For I am discovering that our human nature, in its original, unlearned, purest form, is wild, determined, exuberant, present and totally honest. It’s passionate and free and absolutely nothing less than wholehearted.

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