Dear Tristan: cherish the moment

Dear Tristan,

You haven’t been sleeping so well lately. I’m not sure if it’s teething, or all the brain growing you’re doing as you’re learning to crawl, or just the stress of life lately with your first airplane trip and various other stresses that have come in the last six weeks. You’re a sensitive soul, and things outside of routine can really shake you up. So whatever it is, the routine is gone. You’re not wanting us to lay you down when you sleep. You’re waking up every hour or two at night. You are nursing round the clock, almost like a newborn. We are all exhausted. I’ve had some hormonal swings lately and some times of intense frustration, not knowing why you’re not sleeping, not able to get anything done.

It is times like this when it’s easy – too easy – to wish that this stage would pass, that we could move on to the next stage (which in my imagination is easier, of course.)

But last night as I was rocking you, and I looked down on your tiny body snuggled up so warm and secure in my arms, tears came to my eyes. Why would I wish this away? This fleeting time, where you’re so small and so dependent on me, this time when cuddling with mama is the highlight of your day…this time will be gone in a blink. Too soon you’ll be too big for snuggles. You’ll ride your bike away from me down the street. You’ll graduate high school. You’ll move on to living your life in the great big world out there. And there will be no more midnight snuggles, just you and me in the rocking chair.

It is human nature, of course, to struggle with where we are at, to wish it away, to always want what’s “next”. It’s so easy when you’re in high school to be fixated on college. So easy in college to be fixated on career choices, relationships, marriage. So easy once your career is settled and you’re happily married to be fixated on having children and growing your family. The grass is always greener in whatever the next phase of life is.

Some people move through life this way, as if living were a series of checking things off a list. I urge you…no matter how difficult the moment is that you’re in, no matter how appealing the next moment seems…cherish the now.

Because now is all you really have.

It’s one of the things I truly love about you as a baby – you don’t have a concept of the future, and the past is only important to you in the way it informs the now. You drink in the fullness of every moment. You are truly living, in a way I want to remember from my childhood and learn to do again.

Don’t lose that as you grow. Don’t do what I did, worrying about the future and being sure that the next thing will be the better thing. Every moment has something of beauty.

This moment, of sleepless nights and long days and so very many baby snuggles, has something I will never get back. Instead of being in a hurry to get you sleeping through the night and being independent from me, I want to cherish this time when I am the center of your world, when one snuggle with mama can make everything better. I won’t be able to give that to you for forever, and there will be a time when you need a lot more than just a mama snuggle. But right now, it is the greatest gift I can give you, and I was realizing last night as I buried my face in your chubby baby cheeks that I refuse to resent this. I refuse to see your need for me as a “bad habit” that I should be trying to break. I refuse to hurry on to the next thing.

Now is what I have. Now is something I will never, ever get back. Now is what I can give to you – I can’t give you yesterday and I can’t give you tomorrow. It reminds me of the poem my mom, your grandma, told me about so long ago, the one with the last line that says,

so quiet down cobwebs
and dust go to sleep
I’m rocking my baby
and babies don’t keep.

All the rest of it – the things I’m not getting done, the sleep I’m not getting – it’ll keep. It’ll be there for me another day.

When you’re tempted to fixate on the “next thing” instead of the now, remember this. You can’t live yesterday and you can’t live tomorrow. All you can live is today.

So live it with everything in you.


other letters in this series:
on failing to live up to ideals
on curiosity
on intrinsic motivation (and why we won’t do sticker charts)
on disagreements and choosing a different path
on being open
you are not what you do
on perspective taking
on the most important thing
when the going gets hard
on falling in love
on feelings and needs
on empathy
on differentiation and self-validation
on insecurity
on expectations
on becoming
on respect
on requests and demands
on authority and power

Daddy’s letters:

I love you
I’m sorry
Be Yourself
Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Be Powerful
Be…just be
Do it for you
On Rewards and Punishments
Choose Wisely
Hold onto Yourself
Cultivate Empathy
tell me what you feel
Be Differentiated
an invitation
no expectations
have regrets
what do you want?
why do you want?
I hear you
seek the truth