We have been giving our son fruit juice gummies. When he was littler he would be overjoyed just to have a few small fruit shaped gummies. He would hold them like delicate treasures in his tiny palm. Squealing with glee he marveled looking at them. Tasting one in his mouth was ecstatic. Such simple pleasure.
Now lately he has started something new where he will stockpile them. He will have a few in a little bowl. Before he eats them or even with one in his mouth that he is still chewing on, he will start desperately asking for more. Saying, "More! I neeeed more!"
At first I was confused. And had to do a double take. I checked to see if they were gone. Nope. A few precious fruit gummies still in his bowl.
Initially I became a little frustrated. “Buddy, you still have them,” I would say.
Some days that approach works. And he responds begrudgingly with an, "ok."
Other days the plea for *more* initiates a meltdown. Stomping his feet with a half-hearted theatrical whimper. Squinting really hard to get a few tears out so the urgency is convincing to both of us.
Softening, I say, "you already have them, sweetie pie. Enjoy the ones you already have. Once you have finished the ones you have then you can have more."
Other days he will yell ,"but I neeeeeed them!" accompanied by a genuine cry. Tears streaming down his chubby cheeks. His lower lip slightly quivering. Saying in a more earnest tone, "but I need them, mommy." And his distress is palpable.
I can feel that it is not really about the fruit gummies anymore. It is about so much more.
It is about him feeling desire.
Feeling a good thing and wanting that goodness overflowing. Seeing the whole bag of gummies and comparing his few gummies in a bowl to the whole bag. Feeling scarcity and feeling like what he has suddenly isn’t enough because someone else has more. Discovering amazingness and having fear of not having it in the future.
That fear projecting into the present, making it harder to appreciate right now.
l wrap him in my arms drawing him close and speak gently, calmly, and slowly.
Like a transmission delivered through honey: "Oh my sweet love you already have them. Enjoy what you already have. This is a good lesson to learn early in life. I am still learning this."
I am still learning this...
After a few more breaths his crying slows. His shaking stops and the tears pool under his eyes.
"Ok," he says in a sad but accepting tone.
I love showing up for my son as a vulnerable fellow human navigating the complexities of life.
It teaches me so much about myself. It reminds me of my humanness. Of my challenges and joys. Of my heartache and wonder. And it deeply reminds me how much of the human experience is a collective experience.
Leading with empathy and humility while being in a position of power as a parent feels like a gift that keeps giving. For in teaching we most deeply learn and understand.
Teaching our children & our self that we are not perfect and still we are worthy of love.
Teaching our children & our self that some things in life are challenging and worth the effort.
Teaching our children & our self that we as mothers and fathers still struggle and need help sometimes.
Teaching our children & our self that learning and growing is for all ages, no matter the stage of life we are in.
Moments like this remind me of the mothering we all need and long for...even as a mother myself.
A kind of tenderness and strength that is timeless.
A feeling of connection that transcends perceived separateness.
Love that is at the heart of everything.