This morning Sean was "nursing" Pooh bear. He was sitting in an over-sized tupperware container (one that would house camping gear or blankets or large toys - a big container) in the living room with Pooh cradled in his arms. When I double checked to make sure I heard him right, he clarified.
me: You are nursing Pooh?
me: (hiding all misgivings vocally) That's great!
Thank goodness I was in another room so that my face could allow curiosity, confusion, and humor to cross it.
Sean: I'm giving him honey!
But of course! If a man could nurse a small creature, and if a stuffed bear could receive said nutrients, then clearly that man would produce honey from his body in order to supply said bear with exactly what he craves. This is all coming together now.
It makes sense that Sean would explore the world of nursing. He sees me nurse Audrey multiple times a day. In fact he recently raised a question about this activity while Audrey was nursing.
Sean: What are those things?
me: What things?
Sean: Those things.
me: (not wanting to give in to a non-specific question) What things?
Sean: Those things... hanging from your shoulders?
me: (I'm quite certain he knows the answer to this question) My breasts?
Sean: Yeah - bweasts.
Deep breath. He's not even three years old, and yet this conversation feels awkward. Is this the joy of raising children? The joy of being a family? Awkward moments? Yes. I believe it is.
Sean: Are those for Audrey?
me: Well, they are for me. They are mine. But I use them to feed Audrey.
Sean: To feed her milk?
me: That's right.
I have prided myself on using correct anatomical words with Sean. I have always wanted him to know the correct words for men and women's genitalia. Not wanting to shy away from calling a spade a spade, so to speak, I've encouraged this practice daily - especially while potty training. However, I began to question my diligence when Sean recently discovered the box of Tampax in the cabinet.
Sean: What are these?
me: Those are tampons.
Sean: What are tampons?
%&^*$#@&* - deep breath.
me: They are for me to use during my period.
Sean: What's a period?
*#%@&%!(* - deep breath.
me: It's something that happens inside my body.
me: In my uterus. (Seriously, Anna Marie?? You're really going this far??)
Sean: Where is your uterus?
me: It's inside my belly.
Sean: And do you put them in a hole?
Why do I feel I'm being led down the garden path? Am I the butt of a joke? Surely he knows how awkward this feels for me.
me: Yes, in my vagina. (This makes me want to shiver, do an awkward dance, and shout "Bleh!" But I don't.)
Sean: But I don't have a bagina?
me: No, Sean, you don't.
Sean: 'Cause I have a penis.
me: Right. (Could we STOP the conversation now?)
Sean: (nodding his head, affirmatively) Just me and Dad have a penis?
Sean: But you and Audrey don't?
The Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, is my dad's favorite theologian. One of Heschel's books is entitled I Asked for Wonder. I frequently think of this title - full disclosure: I have not read the book - but when thinking of God or the universe, or what this crazy life is all about, I think of that title. I consistently think of it when Tom and I talk about parenting. We asked for this, right? We asked for the crazy, sleepless nights of a newborn; for the joyous wrestling/tickling matches in the living room; for the headaches of tantrums and the heartaches of trips to the ER and surgeries; for the bliss of watching our kids cuddled up asleep. When we accepted the responsibility of becoming parents, We Asked for Wonder. It's this sense of wonder that I love most about my kids. I want them to wonder at the world. I want them to explore their imagination for as many years as they can before life and Big Brother beat it out of them. I want them to wonder at the stars and the moon, to soak up the sunlight, and to marvel at rain and snow. I want them to ask for wonder.
But do I want them to wonder about the anatomy of my body? I don't know that I asked for THAT! Yet that's the reality of being a mom or dad with very young children. The bathroom door is almost always open, and when it's not, Sean readily opens it to find out what's going on in there. Moments of privacy are few. So the human anatomy and strangely humanity of each of us is up for debate. I am humbled on a daily basis.
Some recent moments of wonder for me have been less intrusive. Audrey has been sick this past week, and she has refused to sit in her high chair to eat. I have chalked this up to being so sick that she just doesn't want to eat anything. However, upon placing her on the ground, she will scoot around the floor picking up every cheerio, calcified scrambled egg, and day old crumb she can find on the floor. Guacala.
Also because of being sick, she has woken more frequently in the middle of the night cyring, much to my dismay. Yet on a night when I felt I could take no more, I walked into her room, and was about to reach for her when I could see and hear her clapping in the dark. She was so excited to see me, she stopped crying long enough to clap. Yeah, Mom! I will ask for that wonder.
Sean picked up on my stress of sleepless nights, and the next day at lunch he announced that he was thinking about getting older.
Sean: When I get older, I'm going to put Audrey to sleep.
me: (not sure if he understands the euphemism at play here, I try to reign in my shock) You are?
Sean: Yeah. Give you and Dad a break and put Audrey to sleep.
I'll take that sense of wonder, too.
Finally, Audrey's first word: we have been teaching her baby sign, as Sean learned, too, and the first word she's truly connected in her brain is dog. She loves dogs. Whenever she sees a dog, she kicks her legs, waves her arms, shouts in the air, and then starts patting her leg: the baby sign for dog. She's gone so far as to make the sign when seeing a cat, which we had to promptly correct, but nevertheless, her language is growing in her little brain. I love to marvel and wonder at that.
A couple weeks ago, while unearthing pictures that had been packed away from our move, Sean began to wonder out loud while looking at a picture from our wedding.
Sean: Mama, who did I stay with when you and Dad got married?
me: You didn't stay with anybody. You weren't even born yet. (in an Irish accent) You were but a twinkle in our eyes!
Sean: That's silly.
After pulling out more pictures, some of Sean as a baby, he began to wonder again.
Sean: Mama, 'member when me and Audrey were in your belly?
me: Yes I do.
Sean: Me and Audrey were in your belly at the same time?
me: No, you came first and then Audrey came second.
Sean: First it was me, then it was Audrey?
me: Yeah, you were born three years ago, and Audrey was born one year ago.
Sean: Yeah. (as if remembering a relaxing vacation on the beach) That was great!
I could see the wonder in his eyes. He genuinely seemed to cosmically understand that this was magical. He even looked at Audrey and seemed to understand the miracle of both their births. I wondered if this might be a moment where he was filled with gratitude. Grateful to be alive, grateful that I carried him for 9 months, grateful that he had a little sister and wondering at it all. Perhaps I would even get a thank you!
Sean: I can't wait to do it again!
A-hem. I asked for this, right? I asked for this wonder. I ask all the time that Sean and Audrey be blessed with a sense of wonder at this world. And if that sense of wonder includes thinking his gestation was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to him, then I'll take it. Even without a thank you, even with the sleepless nights, and even with the tantrums. God knows that their gestation and lives are perhaps the best things that ever happened to me.