Most babies I’ve known love peekaboo. You cover your face with your hands for a minute, throw them open and say “peekaboo!” and they clap or squeal or just generally writhe in delight. My son does not play peekaboo that way. Jay’s version of peekaboo is to pull a blanket or burp cloth over his face and wait for me to cry and wail in falsetto as if I can’t see him there. When he decides I’m sufficiently distraught, he uncovers his face and grins, waiting for me to say “peekaboo! i see you! there you are!”. The other day, I put a (mostly clean) receiving blanket over my own head. He just yanked it off without a coo, shot me a dirty look, and covered his own face up again.
I hide from you, Mama. Not the other way around. That isn’t funny.
Smart kid. He wants to be seen, just like the rest of us, and because he’s 5 months old, he’s significantly less concerned with seeing than being seen. When I gaze into his beautiful face and tell him I see him, he can hardly contain his joy. We need to be seen, we need to be reminded that we are here, that we are real.
Last night, I laid in bed listening to Jay’s breath and the rain against our bedroom window. I felt more at ease than I had in a week, and then I realized why. I woke up to an email from a friend about how becoming a mother has bettered me as a person. Another friend emailed a response to a comment I left just to say I was missed this weekend. My Dad and I had a quiet, deep conversation that afternoon. They saw me. Nothing about my situation changed other than feeling like I was visible, and that changed me.
Have you walked past someone crying in public and avoided eye contact? Maybe your intention was to avoid causing embarrassment, but how powerful would it be to meet their eyes with compassion? Even if you don’t have the time, energy, or ability to help with their suffering, you can try to ease their pain just by not averting your gaze. If you’ve ever cried in public you know what it feels like to be invisible, so you have a powerful empathy to share with them.
When you look at the people you love, practice seeing them. Not just when they’ve done something worthy of praise, or when they’re suffering, or during an intense conversation. Try to see them every time. Especially if you’re struggling to have patience, forgiveness, or gratitude.
See the silver creeping into the hair near his temples- he won’t be here forever. See the circles under her eyes, the exhaustion in her voice. See the hand that trembles with anxiety, the mouth twisted in fear. See the delight in his face when you come through the door, see the comfort that comes from watching that television show that makes your brain bleed. Don’t just look at people, take a minute to see them.
Take your hands away from your face and play peekaboo.
May 23, 2013 No Comments