Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The sweetest days we'll know

Summer and monsoon is giving place to autumn with its falling leaves and misty mornings as I watch the little warrior shedding the last vestiges of littleness before my very eyes. He is a big boy of four now, with his own friends who call him out to play with a well-directed shout from below our balcony. He sometimes brings home a page of homework from his Montessori preschool, just like his big cousins, in his own school bag. He has definite ideas about how things should be done and has plenty to say for himself. He is plumbing new and wondrous ways of expressing his feelings: "Amma, your face is so nice. You are such a nice mother! If a cow comes and bites you, I'm going to be so sad."

But there are still those last traces of babyhood that my hungry eyes search for and covet - the roundness of his cheeks, the dimples on his hands: fast disappearing but still there for now, the high voice and childish pronounciation that is rapidly being improved out of existence as we speak, the intent long-lashed eyes that widen ever so slightly when they encounter a new phenomenon, the little body that is barely little enough for me to scoop up quickly into my arms when we need to cross a troublesome street. He can still perch on my hip, though I can't walk effortlessly when he does that anymore. In a year or so, I know he'll be too big for any more scooping or perching, so I gather him up into my arms often these days just because I still can.

You realize the preciousness and evanescence of life more after having a child - then you know pregnancy goes by in a heartbeat, babyhood is gone in a blink of an eye, toddlerhood in a flash - everything rushes by, though it feels like it's going to last forever when you're experiencing it. So I try to reverently hold and cherish in my attention each moment, good or bad, even as I'm achingly aware of the truth of impermanence.

It reminds me of that last scene from American Beauty: "Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life..."

It reminds me to give of myself willingly to the demands of this stage - the incessant questions, the mess as he turns the house into his playtime wonderland, the frequent demands for a story, for participating in the imaginary sequences of his play-acting, for this that or the other - with a keener realization of "this too shall pass".


  1. beautifully written...loved it!


  2. Thx for commenting - always great to hear from a reader :)

  3. Mangala,
    I came back to re-read your blog about the Tree of Life (just watched it a few days ago) and found this new post - love it! Such a poignant description of letting go of our very own children moment by moment, even as we try to hang on to those precious memories of their precocious childhood. I can relate so well! Even now, when my son is 12, I still search for those lingering childish imprints that are quickly getting erased. I'm so happy to see that you're treasuring them!

  4. Saiisha,
    The childhood-adolescence transition must be a big one too! Letting go is such a recurring lesson in parenting...wishing you grace with yours.

  5. Words of insight, Mangala. I now have grandchildren older than your son, so I can testify to the fact the days/months/years/lifetimes slip by like water through your hands. You can't hang on to a single drop! Much as you might wish to...

    Kobayashi Issa wrote this poem, after the death of his daughter. I have probably already shared with you. It is the truest poem about life I have ever read, and in Japanese says it with only the traditional seventeen syllables:

    "This dewdrop world
    Is a dewdrop world,
    And yet,
    And yet..."

    All of the longings of a parent, and indeed of every human, that this life were not so evanescent, are summed up for me in that short little thought. The dew of each moment hangs on the leaf, and with the rising sun evaporates into vapor and is gone. We can only witness. The more time spent trying to draw any conclusions only detracts from our awareness of the moment. ♥

  6. That's a poignant poem, Andrew, I hadn't come across it before. Love the repetition of the lines, implying so much. It reminds me of another poem the Dalai Lama quoted from the words of the Diamond Cutter Sutra about impermanence:

    "View things compounded from causes
    To be like twinkling stars, figments seen with an eye disease,
    The flickering light of a butter lamp, magical illusions,
    Dew, bubbles, dreams, lightning, and clouds."

    A stark truth wrapped in lovely imagery, but comforting somehow.

  7. So hearty and so beautiful. Made me smile from ear to ear. Many hugs to your little one.