Monday, May 14, 2007

Love's Unique Beat

Claire had horrible gas as an infant. I limited my diet a bit, easing but not eradicating the problem. I spent many hours relieving the pain of her rock-hard tummy. I'd put her in the sling, her legs crossed over her belly to provide pressure. I firmly patted her back while she snuggled with her cheek to my chest. Nick had his own methods of pain relief that worked as well, but for me it was the endless squoosh and pound. A few days ago, I scooped Claire up for a goodbye hug. She smashed her cheek against mine and started patting my back. I closed my eyes for a moment to enjoy it. Then I noticed that she and I were patting in rhythm. I never stopped the squoosh and pound - Claire just joined in the activity after a while. Over the past days, I've realized that we always pat in rhythm and the beat is always the same. We pound and vibrate, providing ourselves with a shared external heartbeat. It is steady and strong. I started looking around at other mother/child pairs. Jake and I have a different rhythm - less regular. We alternate a slow squeeze with the rapid trill of a tickle. A mother in church had a slow rock with her daughter and a slower shuffling rhythm as she rubbed her son's back. A mother in the grocery had a staccato bounce with her infant. My mother and I have the easy, lazy beat of a stroll, no doubt born in the midnight hours she spent pacing the hallway with me. This is the art of mothering, I think. We find that shared rhythm that comforts both mother and child. As we grow, the song changes but the beat stays true. I have no doubt that when I hug Claire 30 years from now, she will pound my back in the shared half-forgotten memory of her infancy.

5 comments:

Katie said...

How sweet, Christy.

My older sister and I do this silly fluttery back-pat hug -- the kind that seems really insincere. But it's our hug, and it means to us what a bear hug means to other people. (For the record, we knew it was silly when we started doing it.)

Laura said...

Christy, you made me cry. And THAT is why you should be a writer. Well, that and you're good at it. So sweet. :)

cheribear said...

I love when they start to pat back. I never noticed the rhythm before, but you are exactly right. I've been patting my babies since they were inside, thumping my belly with my hands - completely compulsive, I can't help myself. And when they get out, that same rhythmic patting soothes them to sleep, congratulates a job well done, comforts them when their feelings are hurt. I have no doubt whatsoever that when I hug them as they head off for college or whatever - it will be exactly the same.

For the record - mine is circle-circle-circle, thump, thump, thump. :) There may be variations depending on which child it is, I'll have to look into it.

Nicki said...

I agree with Laura, that made big tears well up and roll down my cheeks. I love how you always seem to capture the little things that we often miss or forget.

Kristy said...

This is a beautiful post, Christy. I'm not a mother, but I felt like one while I was reading. Truly lovely.