Shifting outlook

Perspective is fickle. Maybe that isn’t entirely fair. Perhaps a more accurate description would be that perspective is fluid. It can morph and change quickly. Or never at all. Just now, the shift nearly gave me whiplash.

This morning I was putting on the remainder of my makeup (a rarity these days) while Moose whined on the potty. It wasn’t the potty he was protesting- he was angry that he had the wrong crackers. To be more specific, the “right” crackers had shifted in his mind twice and within the priority change of his taste buds he had dropped the bag of the “wrong” ones which became the “right” ones as soon as they were out of his reach. He could have gotten off the potty to retrieve said bag. Or eaten the other crackers in his hand. In his hand, people. Instead, he whined. And my body tensed.

With a toddler in the house you get rather accustomed to the background noise of tiny tyrant anger or disappointment. And I practice the train method with said emotions- I let him have the emotions. I don’t interfere with him crumpling on the floor and feeling the negative wave that has overthrown his limbic system. It’s crucial to his ability to understand these big emotions. First he must feel them to learn to navigate them himself. Of course all within reason- no violent outbursts allowed, yadda yadda yadda. I can be pretty compassionate with fussing. I dole out hugs as they are requested. I recognize his disappointment and agree that not always getting your way is the pits. It really is. Or I just block that shit out until his joyful demeanor returns.

But this morning- this Friday morning- the cries emitting from my bathroom made me resentful. Not of my kid- of time. Schedules. You see, this weekend is not mine. The last I saw of my little Moose’s face was when I dropped him off at daycare this morning. I won’t see it again until Sunday. An eternity.

As my own emotions got the better of my mind, I began to think about how I am the one that battles with his cranky disposition during the week. I wake him early and retain structure in complete defiance to his desires. I truncate the time I wish I could curl my body around his and breathe in his essence. I dress him- sometimes against the backdrop of tears. I get him to daycare on time. I navigate abbreviated moments in the evening to maintain routine and proper sleep structures. And on weekends that aren’t mine- he gets to enjoy the fruits of my labor. He gets to wake up to a singing Moose. He gets to spontaneously play at the park or stay in pajamas all day. He steals my good stuff.

There isn’t much logic in what I am feeling. No one is stealing anything from me. Would I always want more time with my little person? Without hesitation. But the two do not correlate. The reality in my frustration? Sadness. Though it has been nearly two years- and I have more or less acclimated to this altered routine- I still get sad when I know I will not return home to my heart- tantrums and all.

So where is the shift in perspective? Did I suddenly realize that I have plans this weekend and I’ll be okay? Did I recognize that my little ball of emotion and cracker obsession was going to have a good weekend with his father and grandmother? Nope. I spent my drive drafting a post about this inequality of hard work versus reward in my mind. I took a quick break from my mental outlining to view Instagram. Upon opening the app, a post caught my attention. It was a collage of a beautiful baby boy- it made me smile. Then I absorbed the words attached. This gorgeous little boy just passed away- shortly after his third birthday. He was only a few months older than Moose. Suddenly my grievance over time was rendered foolish. My baby is safe. My baby is happy. My baby is healthy.

I prayed for this woman I don’t know. I cried for her little boy. I thanked God for the protection of mine- for my ability to wrap my arms around him in two days time.

It’s easy for me to focus on what I have lost. What was taken from me without my consent. To fixate on the struggles I endure alone and the giggles I miss out on. I think that is a condition of humanity. Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative- a lingering trait of survival.

I have worked to shift my focus over the last six months. To appreciate the blessings of my life- big and small. I have many. To thank God for my child- not just the time I get with him. No caveats. No “thank you but…” Just gratitude. Which is hard some days. So hard. But days like today- they are all crystal clear. My son is happy. Healthy. Here.

I don’t really know what to pray for when I hear a person has lost a child. The devastation is unfathomable to me. I pray for peace. For comfort. A support system that rivals no other. For grace. It never feels like enough. Because what I want to pray for? A miracle. Bring their baby back. Their heart existed outside their body the day that child was born- and now it is taken too soon. They are left traversing the world without their heart. It isn’t fair. How does one pray for fairness in a world that it doesn’t exist?

I don’t have any words of wisdom. My heart is heavy for this family. My arms ache to feel my sons unruly body within them. Abruptly, a weekend away from me no longer carries the same grief- for he will return home.

No matter how hard today is- no matter how many directions you’re pulled in and how overextended you feel- hug your babies. They are happy. They are healthy. They are here.

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