Monday, June 25, 2007

At Any Time

I think it was Melanie that first told me that a Blogger called NYC Watchdog lost his son in a swimming accident.

I heard about it last Friday and since then I haven’t been able to shake the ordinariness of the circumstances.

There’s something so every day, so regular about a child at the swimming pool in the summer time…

On Saturday afternoon I met my friend Melissa and her kids for a play date at a local land trust.

We sat under a giant elm tree grateful for the shade while our children scooped, dug, and bulldozed in the sand lot.

I told Melissa about NYC Watchdog’s loss and how I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Melissa belongs to a group of women who meet regularly to discuss the ways that faith guides their lives.

[Though I admire their commitment to each other and to the exploration of faith, I have never been invited to attend as I am a heathen from the Church of the Zoo.]

Melissa told me about a time when a woman in her group talked about the pain of a miscarriage.

After listening, another woman in the group said,


“You know, the truth is that any of our children could die at any time. The older they get, the more and more horrific the possibility becomes.”


While I don’t know if the death of a child can ever be any more or less horrific, I was struck most by the words,


“The truth is that any of our children could die at any time.”

At any time.

It made me think of a quote I like despite it being wildly overused,

"Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching."

I wonder if there’s a version of that sentiment that I could bring to my parenting.

Parent like every moment is your last?

I don’t know.

Tonight The Rooster had trouble falling asleep and then cried about an hour after she had been put down.

K and I are “cry it out” parents. Though we might go in periodically to rub her back, we would normally let her comfort herself back to sleep.

Earlier, just after dinner, Rooster managed to cut her finger somehow. I think the combined sensation of wearing a bandage for the first time and feeling her finger throb were too distracting for her.

I picked her up, got her a sippy cup and rocked her while she had a drink. Then I took her to my bed and snuggled with her until she fell asleep with one of her little feet resting in my hand.

I haven’t held her until she fell asleep since she was six months old.

I was a mother in the moment tonight and, at least for today, I have no regrets.

90 comments:

meno said...

I will always remember the last time my daughter fell asleep on me. I miss that.

slouching mom said...

Lovely post, J.

Biddy said...

have i told you how much i love you!?

notfearingchange said...

You are an awesome mum and an awesome person.
hugs

carmachu said...

She was right. Every moment could be your last with'em...live like it is....

Veronica said...

I think older generations lived with this truth more closely than most of us do. We feel the tragedy of it today because it is so rare; but just 200 years ago, it was a tragedy because it was common.

I think I'm gonna go crawl in bed with my daughter.

Aliki2006 said...

So true. So beautiful.

Patience said...

Live like you there is no tomorrow. Because there very well may not be!

Mamma said...

Indeed, Jess. Indeed.

venessa said...

My mom always made us hug and kiss before bed, no matter how much fighting there had been that day. She told us "You never know when we might say goodbye." Kinda depressing, but I now do the same thing with John and the girls. We are never allowed to leave the house if we are still angry. Sudden deaths have happened in our family, and I couldn't imagine John leaving the house and having an accident and our last words spoken in anger.

Poor Watchdog. I can't imagine his pain.

NotAMeanGirl said...

Nicely said Jess. So gonna snuggle my lil guy this weekend.

Jordan said...

Parent like this is the moment they'll always remember.

Jennifer said...

I have plenty of regrets about times I lost my patience or times I was too busy. But never, ever, any regrets about time taken for snuggles and hugs and nights of falling asleep together.

This is a such beautiful post -- thank you for the reminder.

cronznet said...

I can't post about this on my own place, so here you go. The other two adult units in my home came back from the park with my kid, to rinse sand from his eyes and nose. They. Didn't. See. What. Happened. They think an older kid shoved his face in the sand and they knew about it when he came crying to them.
I keep thinking a pedophile would have been down the block and away by then.
At any time.
He wants to go to the park? He's with me or he's not going.

jen said...

at least for today, i have no regrets.

lets do that again tomorrow. and the next day. let's really try.

achingly beautiful post, friend.

Liam's Mom - Gina said...

It's very humbling to think how fragile each of our lives are, especially our children's.

I smiled at the thought of you going out of the norm to comfort the rooster... so priceless.

SUEB0B said...

Yes, pain and loss have been so much on my mind lately and have also made everything else so precious...

CamiKaos said...

that was beautiful, more so because right now I am laying next to my little sleeper too.

Omaha Mama said...

Beautiful. I always love that feeling, the snuggling (though we also are cry it out parents). Sometimes it's just too good.

I wrote today of death and disasters too. Maybe summer brings that out of us. What with danger lurking at every corner!

I'm going to parent tomorrow as if I will have no regrets.

Tabba said...

I heard about that via PlaneJaneMom and it has rocked me.
For it is so close to home.

I've become ever aware lately that one of my babies could be ripped from me at any moment.
It's completely freaking me out.

I remember when Connor was born thinking that I couldn't die yet. That I had so much to do here. That I didn't want to miss one single moment.

Never had the other end of the spectrum occurred to me.

Good for you for living in the moment with your Rooster Girl.
Each day is such a sweet, sweet gift.
And so are they (the little people).

flutter said...

sucked the breath right out of me Jess.

Fidget said...

I never imagined anything could be worse then my miscarriages until I actually birthed my children. Suddenly the world was fraught with uncertainties. This is a very sharp reminder to take a few more moments. Don't just worry about what may be, relish what is.

carrie said...

I savor every one of those moments too (in fact, as I sit here my sleeping little one's feet are nicely tucked under my knee) - Daddy's working tonight, so I will resist the urge to move her back into her own bed, for now.

Carrie

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

I know.

I can't get him off my mind either...

And I am always thinking the worst...
Always. Everyone says I'm too fearful..but really. Who's to say?

Wonderful post.

Mimi said...

I haven't been able to get him out of my mind either. Every time we go to the pool I'm a wreck! And we go every day!

Great post. Thank you once again!

cinnamon gurl said...

Pools scare me a bit. Our daycare provider asked if she could take Swee'pea in her neighbour's pool because he looked like he really wanted to go in when they were there a while back. I felt awkward but I was like "No Way." She's got five kids to watch, two of them nearly 18 months old... I can't believe she'd want to do that.

Anyways, a lovely post...

Twisted Cinderella said...

Great post. A good reminder about just how precious our children are.

Twisted Cinderella said...

I have a thing that no matter what when any of us leave the house, we have to kiss and say I love you. I just have this feeling like you never know what is going to happen when you leave the house in the morning.

Sayre said...

It's hard to protect someone who wants to be his own person... but as parents, we do it anyway - in spite of the whining and the constant "why can't I???'s" He's just not quite old enough for me to explain yet.

WILLIAM said...

I always tell the strippers "dance like you don't need the money."

On a serious note, Since I read about NYC WD, I have not been able to shake the thoughts of losing my kids. My heart aches.

Jenn said...

Tears.

The concept of parenting in the moment; I love it.

I just need help living it.

So, so much help.

And the feeling of them sleeping on you? I know that heaven, that is how I will feel. All the time.

Shelli said...

Scary thoughts.

A very touching post. Thank you.

Arwen said...

I can't stop thinking about him either. I hope the family is doing as well as they could but I think I would fall apart if it happened to me.

Ortizzle said...

Superb post. Amazing how someone else's misfortune can make us take stock of what we have and live life more for the moment.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I often have wanted to comment but you know me, I am not a person who like to share her feelings with too many people. This time I feel I should. I always held my children when they were small. It is something I miss so very much now that they are grown. Time passes much to quickly to not have moments like you and Rooster had last night. After all so far I think my children are none the less of a person because we spoiled them with love when they were little. We love reading your blog everyday it helps us feel like the miles between us are a lot less because we are seeing the Mayor and Rooster's childhood unfold and the person their Mother has become. We love you all. Aunt Candy

maigh said...

It doesn't change with age. I remember my grandmother saying to me following my mothers funeral "you never think you'll outlive your children".

The idea still haunts me.

Jenifer said...

Oh Joy this is a hard one. I waver between worrying over every moment and trying to block it out.

Nothing is more heart-wrenching than the mere thought of losing a child.

Even Aunt Candy's comment is making me teary.

Hold her tight you will never regret that.

canape said...

So very nice, J.

Here's another saying for you. It was on a piece of folk art I bought from an elderly woman in Mississippi who made bottle trees and lawn crosses. This was painted on the lawn cross I purchased:

"If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance."

Carla said...

Thank you. Squeezin up my chillers right now.

BOSSY said...

Great post although Bossy only read every other sentence because it's so sad and real she could tuck herself into bed for a month.

NotSoSage said...

It's so hard to focus on the big picture when the little things start driving you up the wall, but that is a very good reason to do it.

3carnations said...

That was a very sad...and also very sweet...post.

Sometimes when my son is doing some very "3 year old testing his boundaries" sort of things, I suddenly stop feeling frustrated with the behavior, and realize that in a blink of an eye, he will be bigger, and I will miss these 3 year old moments. Last night was one of those times. He was having a particularly hard time being ready to lay down in bed. Hubby was getting frustrated, and I just kind of looked on as they went back and forth about it, and suddenly started singing some silly made up song about his blanket. My son looked at me, laid down, let me cover him up, and was ready for bed.

I will be curious if your daughter will be able to go to sleep on her own tonight...I imagine she liked the change last night, too. :)

megachick said...

i could feel the tenderness.
we usually 'cry it out', too, but sometimes it's we who need the comforting.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

We just had the worst happen for a family friend. They are still trying to recover. As if anyone ever does recover from such a thing.

http://www.greeblemonkey.com/2007/03/do-you-ever-get-scared.html

mom2EmnRoo said...

Wonderful post. Since my girls arrived, I've found myself more preoccupied w/ the notion that I (or hubs) might die or become incapacitated. After years of putting off things like wills and life insurance upgrades, it's become an obsession to have those things in order. The what ifs are staggering. There's a precarious balance between being prepared and enjoying every moment vs. living in perpetual fear that something bad might happen.

Julie Pippert said...

This is a great and lovely post.

I know that feeling, on both sides, but it feels too hard to think about them, so easier to think of them losing me. I call it Parenting as if I might get hit by a bus tomorrow.

Magpie said...

So sad about the boy. Lovely post.

Modern Mami said...

Good for you. I'm sure it felt great and I doubt you'll regret it. ;)

Mrs. Schmitty said...

We all get wrapped up in the chaos of life and forget those moments that matter. I'm guilty of that, but I tell and let my kids know everyday (and more) that they are loved.

Queen Heather said...

Wonderful post.

Above Average Joe said...

Hearing news like that is always heartwrenching. But it is sometimes needed to remind us of our priorities.

Nice post.

Bon said...

smiling at the sweetness...it truly is the flip side of sorrow.

this was lovely, Jess. lovely.

andi said...

Wow. Well said.

QT said...

Agh! My mom used to tell us - "You never know if this is your last goodbye/I love you" and at some point it struck me, she was right, you really dont.

Lovely post, friend.

liv said...

never for one moment regret those times when you get a good snuggle with your babies. and, I've got to say how proud I am that Roo has made it this far without a bandage! Good parenting!

Lawyer Mama said...

I heard about NYC WD. I can't stop thinking about it either. We have a pool, so it hits close to home.

Last weekend my littlest H was all tuckered out and he crawled up in my lap & fell asleep. That hardly ever happens anymore and it was the best thing.

mamatulip said...

As usual, J, you have crafted a doozy of a post here. Beautiful.

Christine said...

Beautiful sentiments. You are an awesome mom.
This is the second post I've read about freak accidents and losing our children.
There is truth to enjoying every moment with our children.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I think, unfortunately, it's tragedies like this that make us realize how fragile life is and how we shouldn't take any second with our children for granted.

Beautiful post!

Cathy said...

"To have children is to give hostages to fate." — JFK

That quote has flitted through my mind countless times since my kids were born. And I'm sure it will continue to do so.

Wonderful post.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Watchdog's story struck me too. I could happen at any time. Scary.

Jennifer Playgroupie said...

His loss struck me as well. It could be any of our losses.

I fear that I miss out on too much because I'm worried about laundry or vacuuming or *gasp* blogging when I should be enjoying my babies.

It shouldn't take a death to remind us, but at least we've been reminded.

Circus Kelli said...

That is a great post...

"Moment parenting" is sometimes just what is needed the most for both parent(s) and kid(s).

Why is it so difficult to remember to enjoy them sometimes? Thank you for the reminder.

Day Dreamer said...

Darn right. They are little for moments only. Every day is a blessing with them.

This post makes me sad and happy all at once.

Mama en Fuego said...

Everytime I start getting frustrated with my daughter, I stop and remember how blessed I am to have her in my life and how long I waited for her to get here.

Just yesterday I rocked Anna to sleep in my arms and then laid her down in bed with me so we could nap together. We haven't done that in a while. It was wonderful, lying there with her face nuzzled into my neck, her little feet tucked under her tiny, perfect little butt, the smell of her baby shampoo filling my nose.

I understand. There are times when I still wish I could curl up in my mom's arms and sleep. It feels like the safest place in the world, and that's how it should be.

I know our children feel our love far greater than we could ever express it with words. She may not have the means to tell you, but I bet she got just as much out of being held as you did holding her. Never regret those moments, never.

Sunshine said...

I have no greater fear....nothing. If something were to happen to one of my children. And it could happen anytime to anybody and did to some friends about 3 months ago. And her parents donated her organs to save 5 other people, and went thru what they went thru but even knowing firsthand how people we knew were dealing with the death of their child, it's a harsh reminder. Pick 'em up, hug 'em, love 'em...maybe yell less or let them get their shirt stained with chocolate. Who cares?
It's just incredibly sad and I can't even wrap my brain around how enormously difficult it would be.
Lovely post.

thordora said...

Every so often, one of mine will nod off on me, from tiredness, or illness. And I cherish it. They rarely do this, and there is something so lovely about those little cheeks on my shoulder, the soft rise and fall of their backs. I am hyper aware that at any moment they could be taken from me, or I from them, so I take what I can for storage, and give what I can so they have memory as well.

And I like to be cuddled to sleep sometimes too, so I will never deny it if they really need it. Life is much too short.

mommiebear2 said...

I love this post.

Jodi said...

My husband lost a son in his first marriage. I cannot imagine how you get up and walk around and live with a weight like that on your heart. It is my greatest fear.

Damselfly said...

That's really tough, because it's not the kind of thing you want to think about happening.

imhelendt said...

I've been thinking about this too. I have been around pools my whole life. We had pools growing up. I was a swimmer, a lifeguard, a swim teacher and a swim coach. I remember being 11 years old and seeing my baby brother floating face down in our pool motionless. He survived, but it was far too close a call for my taste. I can't count the number of times I have pulled children out of the water under the nose of their parents who turned away for "just a second." Or sometimes they were facing their children and chatting and just not paying attention. I cringe at my friends who leave their babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers alone in the tub "for just a second." It only takes about 15 seconds for a child to drown. After thirty seconds there is little chance of recovery and after that, *IF* they survive, it's always with severe brain damage. Parents are always just shocked at how little time it takes. Water is probably the largest danger children face every day and most parents are clueless and careless. It just makes me hold my kids a little tighter every night and I say a small prayer for the children I see, hoping they survive in spite of their parents... Sigh....

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am so sorry to hear about the man's loss of his son. Anytime a child is lost it is a tragedy.

I can't even imagine.....makes me want to go hug my kids.

Your kids are lucky to have you as a mom!

Natsthename said...

..and you should have no regrets for such a thing. Thanks for reminding me that, as a parent, I know what's best for my kiddos.

Cat, Galloping said...

i feel sick. is it wrong to wish i hadn't seen this post today? your post was beautiful, but "I've lost my puppy monster." well. that's going to haunt me for a long, long time.

KC said...

Beautiful. I've always longed to be able to snuggle with Joles until she fell asleep in my bed. Longed. She can't though. It's impossible. She gets fired up around us, bounces off the walls. But, I'd imagine it's one of the sweetest feelings in the world.

furiousBall said...

helping a child find slumber is soooo sweet. my little girl asks me to climb in bed and nuggle every night...and no, i didn't forget the s in nuggle, that's our version of snuggling.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

I'm with Carmachu..

I live every minute knowing that things could change at anytime.

I appreciate every single little thing ... everything....

Virtualsprite said...

Very, very beautiful post. And so true... it's hard to remember how much we would miss them sometimes...especially during the toddler years, but it's true.

Kevin Charnas said...

Nice...

the moment, so hard to grasp...and so necessary to.

momomax said...

It feels good when you live in the moment. when I'm stuck in my office, I try my hardest not to focus on how I'm not able to parent in the moment.

It feels good to visit you too. I'm glad to think of you and roo falling asleep.

thanks for the lovely post

deb said...

That was lovely Jess. Makes me remember what's important.

Mrs. Chicken said...

You know I know this feeling. Lovely, and so true.

Karly said...

I've been worrying about my children and thinking about that poor family ever since I read about that as well. Great post.

Unfit Mother said...

oh Great! Ivy just went to a swimming play-date, life vest in hand, this afternoon. And I read the Freakonomics chapter that recounts statistically, swimming pools are more dangerous than household armament. Oh, The Horrors...

Lotta said...

Good God, what a horrible tragedy. This won't leave me easily either. I've pulled too many nieces and nephews out of the pool at parties. It's when there's a group of people that accidents seem to happen. Everyone assumes that the other parent is watching the kids.

Devra said...

Just tonight my 11.5 year old son crawled onto my lap and was insisting on being held. He even perched his head on my shoulder. Considering he is about an inch away from celebrating, in his words "I'm Taller Than You Day," it's not such an easy thing for me to have him on my lap. But at the same time I thought, "Why the hell not?" And I held my "baby." I am so sorry for NYC WD's loss. I am certain it is nothing short of devastating. He probably needs to be held on someone's lap too!

Karen Forest said...

Beautiful post. Even though I work in a funeral home, it is easy to get caught up in the grind and forget how precious every second is.

I love jordan's comment:

"Parent like this is the moment they will always remember." I love this and am going to keep it close to my heart.

ewe are here said...

Losing onr of my children is my nightmare.

When I was a little girl, my 3 year old cousin drowned in a pool across the street from my grandparent's house.... they'd left the gate open and he wandered through it, climbed the ladder to the slide, and in he went....

Total nightmare.

Emma Sometimes said...

My heart goes out the the parents who lost their son. Very sad.

Cuddles are good for the soul...thanks for the reminder!

jchevais said...

Bless you, that was beautiful.