At the risk of sounding like a “Everything I need to know in life, my baby taught me” poster, I have written you this letter. It isn’t that everything a baby does is great fodder for life instruction (licking people’s shoulders is awkward and being completely dependent on others is a terrible life strategy after about the first year), but your presence – your simple and immaculate art of being alive – continues to bowl me over with wisdom. I look at you and see the child who needs many things, things which we will have to provide, things you cannot yet provide for yourself. I see the neediness, the appropriate neediness (and even the wisdom in that) and I know that you are a child. But then, in the same breath, I also see you as ripe with knowledge from the beyond; your presence a constant instruction and inspiration for right livelihood. So consider this a love letter, from one student to her tiny teacher.
Keep showing up just as you are, chubby-thighs, hairy shoulders, buddha belly. Keep showing me how people know that you are beautiful because you are, without any adjectives beyond your simple being. Your beingness is beauty, they are saying, you are teaching, I am starting to remember.
Keep letting “the need to be held” be an everyday fact. Who knew rocking you to sleep could bring such inner turmoil. In the quiet of this simple act, I feel grief in my bones, in the marrow of them, simmering. The rocking continues, the precarious quiet extends longer than I’ve allowed before, and the stories of not being touched when I needed it, at being touched wrongly when I didn’t, bubble and boil and demand to be dealt with, one way or another. Keep forcing me to sit in quiet, where the truth lies.
Keep insisting on your own independence, refusing to be laid on your back, grunting and fussing until someone helps you sit up and be an equal part in your surroundings. Keep proving to me that a drive for constant self improvement, and the ability to stand on your own, is indeed innate!
Keep making random and exploratory yelps, skwaks and squeals, because the sound of your own voice is a constant epiphany. Keep making me question: Do I love my own voice enough?
Keep sleeping unreasonable amounts and instructing me on the life-changing power of naps.
Keep going to bed when the sun sets, rising when it rises, and eating only what nature provides, revealing to me how excruciatingly over-complicated I’ve made this thing called life.
Keep illuminating what matters. Over and over, grinding our lives down to the bare, most delicious essentials.
Keep demanding that attention be paid to your needs. Demanding.
Keep reminding us that you need stimulation, of all types.
Keep demonstrating that much development lies invisible, percolating under the surface for some time without physical proof, before erupting as a new skill or growth in “seeming” over-night fashion.
Keep exploring your own body.
Keep giving me permission to be comfortable, reminding me what power soft blankets hold, even for this adult. Especially for this adult.
Keep teaching me how to say No.
Keep bringing up the need for efficiency.
Keep highlighting how important a walk can be.
Keep scanning your surroundings for new beauty to behold. Keep reminding me that novel stimulation, and a change of environment, is one of life’s grand designs.
Keep telling us to forget what we planned; keep teaching us to embrace what works. Keep being the conduit, for every ounce of growth I still need.