My younger son, now 20 months old, seems to continuously wear a smile on his face and guffaws at the slightest hint of amusement. This is of course with the exception of times when: a)he’s teething; b)has an ear infection; c)wants something out of the refrigerator that he’s not allowed to have; d)is asked by one of his sleep-deprived parents to please, please lie down, close his eyes and go to sleep; or e)all of the above.
I’ve found myself looking at him and asking, “Why are you so happy?”
How can someone be smiling 90% of his waking hours? What is the source of this joy? Yes, we’re a happy bunch but, really come on, what’s so funny? He just keeps smiling and laughing at me.
It started when he was just a few weeks old. He kept smiling. I told the pediatrician about this. The doctor, for whom I have great respect, was in my opinion, full of it, full of that stuff you find in a dirty diaper. He said, “Oh, no. They can’t smile on purpose yet at this age. It’s probably just a gassy grin.” Well, if all of my baby’s earlier smiles were gassy, then I would have become one grouchy mommy sporting a clothes pin on my nose.
So this grin persists, from two months until now, day after day at an average rate of 90% of his waking and even some of sleeping hours. My husband asks me, “So, is he an idiot or a savant?”
My son’s behavior compels me to wonder. What state of consciousness did this little person emerge from some 20 months ago when he moved from my womb into my arms? What does he know that I don’t which is the great source of his joy?
It’s a mystery. By the time he’s old enough to articulate it to us, he won’t remember. But, it gives me hope. Will I rediscover the answer in my lifetime? Chances are I will only know where we came from and its wonders after I pass from this life. I will be patient. I can afford great patience because of where I am now, in this moment. I am partaking in that joy with this small person. It’s contagious. He seems to feel that beyond some of his growing pains, there is nothing that exists but joy.
I’ve just realized, I can relate to this. Don’t I still have some growing pains too? These include: a)learning to balance my career goals with the needs of my two young sons; b)creating new ways to have time by myself and being the mother I want to be; c)learning how to let my child cry when it’s actually good for him, (i.e. no you can’t have that chocolate before dinner) without feeling guilty; d)nurturing a growing relationship with my husband as well as my kids; or e)balancing all of the above every single day. Hmm, maybe I ought to try my toddler’s attitude on for a day. Other than some of my growing pains, there is nothing that exists but joy.