As I said in my riddle (well not MY riddle) but rather the riddle that I posted on the blog yesterday, I posted it as an exercise designed to help us all embrace that sometimes even when we think we are tuned in, we do not always see what’s in front of our face, that is, until you do because it becomes crystal clear (many of you did find all 6 Fs but for those that didn’t, neither did I and that’s the point of this post).
This past weekend was packed with activity. It really started on Friday with some crazy news about our new tenants who are now moving out and continued with E’s therapy where we discussed her somewhat plateauing in the context of meeting more major milestones. As I consistently eagle eye E, you would think I would be in tune with everything. I am constantly analyzing every little thing, from eye contact to speech to gross and fine motor skills. And yet, as I saw this weekend, just how, while I consider myself the super sleuth when it comes to E, I was more playing the role of captain obvious I just needed to open my eyes.
As I have said before, it has been a constant challenge for me that E does not make prolonged eye contact. I realize that this sounds a little ridiculous given everything else, but eye contact is important and think of it as if you spent a lot of time with someone who you love with all of your heart and they never looked you in the eyes but rather looked at your forehead. At some point that eye contact truly helps with bonding and so as you can imagine this elusive eye contact is a priority for me. So Friday afternoon as I lay on the floor with her trying to help her sit up from the lying down position I was behind her with our faces in exact opposite directions and then she did it, she stared at my face and reached out to touch it. I sat there and smiled at her as her hands searched and explored the contours of my face. Even when her dagger like nails dug into the side of my cheek I stayed there (I swear I cut them but something in that carnation instant breakfast makes them super strong) waiting for her to finish for the moment was too precious not to wait. And then after several seconds it ended and I enthusiastically circled around her hopeful that if I went back and looked at her directly in the eyes as I normally would she would hold my gaze. But alas, as I was looking directly at her back to my forehead she went. It occurred to me in that moment that maybe it was me that needed to change things up a bit. So I laid down parallel with her on the floor and what do you know, she turned directly to my face, smiled and grabbed my nose. Again for several seconds she groped my nose and eye sockets and then looked away. This was amazing. I sat up and did the same thing 3 more times. Each time with the same result. Ok, so here it was, clear as day, this is how she could look at me. Later that night as the light dimmed and it was nearly dark she lay in my arms and drank her bottle. As she did this, she looked at my face and in my eyes. I smiled softly at her in her sleepy state and rocked her gently. She stopped drinking and drifted to sleep. 22 months. Finally, she looks at me and fell asleep in my arms. Hope seeped into my heart. These moments are the mini milestones that I need to keep going. She will keep doing them of course as she grows and learns but in my every effort to focus on her so closely, I lost sight of the fact that often when we look too hard we can miss the other ways to see or do something. So now, when I want E to look at me, I don’t get right up to her face, I come around to the side of her, or lie down next to her or look at her upside down. It became obvious that she couldn’t do it my way but that didn’t mean she couldn’t do it all if only I would open my eyes to see it.
So today, as I struggle emotionally to find ways to help her do the things she needs to do to progress in her development, perhaps I won’t be quite so black and white or maybe the shades of gray that we so often play in won’t be quite as defined and the hope of mini-milestones and recognizing the obvious will make it mynewfavoriteday. And for all of you out there who are trying to work through something whether it’s work, relationships, parenting, or anything else for that matter, sometimes the most obvious approach isn’t so obvious at all and you just need to look at the issue from another angle. Happy ‘newfavoriteday’.