The Suffocating True Love of a Young Child
Sometimes your offspring’s love can take your breath away—in more ways than one.
As my 5 year old and I cuddle in bed before she goes to sleep, she wraps her sweet little arms around my neck and literally puts me in a choke hold. As my life-breath slips away, she lets out a deeply happy sigh. I croak a pitiful request for my wind-pipe to be slightly uncrushed. Her answer? To pet my face (yes, my face), so I can only breathe alternatively through my nose or mouth–whichever she isn’t smothering with her loving touch.
“I love you so much, mummy! I wish I could just cut you open and live inside you!” she exclaims.
“Oh, wow. That’s…nice. I love you so much, too. But we don’t usually pet people’s faces, love.” I forget to mention that we don’t cut people open either.
The next morning, my youngest climbs into bed with my husband and me. As I face him and breathe, he complains, “stinky mama. Stinky! Yucky, gross!” I think, “fair enough”, and roll over. He begins to cry and scream, “No, mummy face! Mummy lay face!”
“But you just said…alright.” I mumble into the darkness as he grabs my cheeks with his two small hands and forces our faces together, but not without one more disgusted, “stinky.”
The love language of the people I helped create is as deep and true as it is overstimulating. One that fills my heart and cuts off my oxygen at the same time.
Once we’re all up and moving, I try to sneak away to the toilet, to do the things humans usually try to do without the humiliation of having an audience. Unfortunately, my tip-toes weren’t tip-toey enough and both my children manage to find me.
“Mummy, where are you?”
“Mummy, mama, mummy!”
“Oh, I’m in the washroom, loves, but I really don’t think you want to be in here with…ok…well, never mind. Hello.”
“Mummy, there you are! Mummy, I want to wear my pink leggings today and Mummy we want porridge, and I want cheese toast too, but not the cheese you did yesterday, the cheese you did before. Mummy are there any strawberries for lunch? Because that’s what I want in my lunch bag.”
“Mummy, sit! Mummy, lap! Muuuummmmyyy! Waaaaaaaa!” cries my youngest as he attempts to climb onto my lap as I simultaneously sit on the toilet and try to take in all the information my oldest is throwing at me.
This is the reality of life with young children.
The love language of the people I helped create is as deep and true as it is overstimulating. One that fills my heart and cuts off my oxygen at the same time. There is no other relationship I’ll have where someone wants to be with me so much (every moment of every day), they’re happy to be thisclose to all the things I try to hide about myself. Every day, my children lift a mirror and show me the things I didn’t even know I was pretending do not exist. The best part? They accept me unconditionally and jump right in (never neglecting to remind me that I am just as awful as I think I am).
Anyone who tells you what a nightmare kids are, or what bliss it is to have them around, is only giving you one side of how they truly feel. It is all of those things at the same time.
This is what I always try to express, unsuccessfully, to someone who doesn’t have kids, when they ask what it’s like to be a parent—the dichotomy that arrives as suddenly as your baby is plopped into your arms for the first time. How your life ends and begins in the same moment. The feelings you experience simultaneously that you always thought were mutually exclusive. Anyone who tells you what a nightmare kids are, or what bliss it is to have them around, is only giving you one side of how they truly feel. It is all of those things at the same time.
So, expecting and new parents, there’s only one thing to do—embrace this new experience as you would the sheer terror and excitement of bungee jumping. Welcome to twenty years worth of bungee jumping.