My granny Renee (your great granny), who was still playing bridge at the age of 88, said to me that she was still learning so much from the game, and that the minute she stopped learning more, was when she should quit.
I think about this a lot – a) that I had a great role model in her, and b) we should never stop seeing opportunities to learn and grow, even if we think we might have mastered it all.
One of the things I am most grateful for about being your mom is not only seeing things through the wonder of a little person’s eyes, but re-learning all the things I’ve forgotten or lost sight of, or never even thought of along the way.
You’ll learn so much on your own Max, but I hope that we can figure things out together, and that I can try to help you make sense of yourself and the world, as I try to do the same in mine. So while this is always a work in progress, here are my top 10 of Things To Know Soonest (not science, not proven, just stuff I go by). I can’t promise that I know the secrets, or that there’ll be no tears or that you’ll get sweets or toys by reading all this, but let’s give it a shot?
In no particular order:
1. Shit rolls downhill. If you’re having a bad day and show it, chances are others will feel it too and act it out. Ditto with bad moods and negativity.
2. Life is about suffering (your Buddhist grandfather would be delighted that I’ve noted this). There are crappy things in life that we can’t avoid. Fullstop.
3. There is lots of love and good things in the world too. Look for them, note them, and appreciate them. They’re there for the taking.
4. Love yourself. Things come together when you do, plus you don’t need to be your own enemy. Seriously. (remind me to give you Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life which goes into this topic profoundly).
5. Exercise makes you feel better.
6. There are no accidents.
7. Apple gadgets make you look cool (this is a superficial lesson, but one that needs mentioning).
8. Pain is not forever (though it never feels like it at the time).
9. Sorting the small stuff from the big stuff helps you be a little happier, and prevents a lot of fights and irritation.
10. Feelings are there to be felt – let them rise, fall and get washed away as necessary.
I love you, my great teacher.
When you were born, I was more overwhelmed by the future than the present, and was totally freaked out by worries of school, your barmitzvah, girls, hormones, who would fetch you from sports practice, what would happen if kids picked on you in school, what if you stopped speaking to us if we didn’t buy you the latest Wii game. The nappies, sleep and burping took care of themselves as I got anxious over stuff whose dates didn’t even appear on my Blackberry they’re so far ahead.
And then I started watching you with more purpose than simply ogling over the most perfect being in the world; I began thinking that babies and kids have got it all right – you’re in The Moment all the time, not regretting milk that was spilt the day before, nor worrying about nappy rash that could crop up next week. And while I know your little brains are built like that for now, I’m still taking it as a lesson to feel whatever needs feeling right now, and to allow it to pass when it’s ready. I’ve read so many self-help and Buddhist books that have this very premise at its core, but nothing hits this point quite like watching you enjoy a strawberry wholly, crying when you bump yourself and then forget about it once you’ve recovered, playing with a spoon as if it was all that existed in the world, or falling asleep immediately with a quiet mind.
So little dude, once again I look and learn from you and try to be present and mindful, and to take the mothering thing one step at a time. This doesn’t mean I’m not considering the future, or saving up for school/university, or starting to put your name down for every school (it’s so hectic out there – I hope we’re not “late” at your age of 15 months!), it just means I’m trying to be a little bit happier right now, rather than being consumed by anxiety over things I don’t really have control over. But hey, I do have control over my weight, and it’s never too early to start getting into good shape for your barmitzvah, right?