Susan's Blog

Friday, February 10, 2006

Island in My Storm

6 p.m. Nat sat dead center on the white living room couch, knees to chest, staring ahead of him. So peaceful. I was not feeling peaceful, I was in a lot of turmoil. Not a good day for me. I have a lot of trouble transitioning to the weekends, with all of the unstructured downtime and everyone around when I’m used to being by myself. A lot of stuff has been going on in my head and heart lately and I was feeling tossed by my emotional discomfiture.

So there was Nat, an island of quiet. Demanding nothing. Soaking up the early evening hour. As usual. I stood behind him and knelt over him, my hair spilling into his face. I kissed the top of his head. He smelled like oily skin and strawberry shampoo.

Then he surprised me: he reached up and wrapped my hair around his hands, very gently, and pulled it to his nose, breathing deeply. Breathing me in.

“Natty, do you like that? You like my hair like that, in your face?”
“Yes,” he said, a big grin stretching across his face.
“I didn’t know, Honey.” I felt a quick stab of pain as I realized that here was something easy I could have been doing with him for all this time, some happy thing I could have given to him so easily had I known. Had I tried sooner.

I sighed, and looked at his long fingers, clutching at my hair so gently but also so definitely. He wanted me. He still loved me, I was still Mommy. The wonder of it spread through me, soothing my heart.

We just sat there like that for a few long moments, as his soft silence wrapped itself around me, and I was content.


You know the more I begin to understand my own kid, the more I understand how perceptive that they are. How they are aware of the senses (maybe in a greater way than we are) and even in their vast silence they are able to sense what we need. I think it is pretty special that the kid (nat)that you once had to pull everything from, is giving you something (spontaneously)back. I am not sure that the lack of connection that you felt with him from the begining of his life is still present now, it sure doesn’t seem so.
I can understand how you might feel sadened by the fact that you just learned about his enjoyment “playing with your hair”, I can understand how it might make you feel like you lost “good” time with him. But perhaps after a while of feeling sad about it, you can come to the understanding that perhaps you needed it to happen at that moment in your life, that you who felt most undeserving at that moment- were infact very deserving of his infrequent display of affection. I am so happy that you were able to experince this at a time when you needed it.

— added by Kristen on Friday, February 10, 2006 at 9:00 pm

Charlie may give no evident sign in his face or in the usual ways, but he always picks up on, and responds, to our inner emotional turmoil. He may start humming or fretting in his own ways, or speaking repetitively. With an overload of empathy!

— added by kristina on Friday, February 10, 2006 at 9:05 pm


Although unrelated to your post, one of my favorite novels is Hemmingway’s Islands in the Stream.

— added by Pete Lyons on Friday, February 10, 2006 at 9:35 pm

Touching account.

With no disrespect intended, when I read,

“Then he surprised me: he reached up and wrapped my hair around his hands, very gently, and pulled it to his nose, breathing deeply. Breathing me in.”

I couldn’t help but think of those 70’s commercials for Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!

— added by Do'C on Friday, February 10, 2006 at 11:53 pm

Hey Dad of Cameron –
My hair does smell terrific!! Very funny. Thanks for injecting levity.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, February 11, 2006 at 7:05 am

Ah, smells and breathing and the memory that comes with…I write that I “nuzzle my nose in Adam’s hair…” so young, so Johnson and Johnson…


— added by Estee Klar-Wolfond on Saturday, February 11, 2006 at 4:12 pm

What a wonderful moment to spend with your son. I always tell Gabe I wish I could put him in my pocket and keep him as my warm fuzzie all day long.


— added by Mom to Mr. Handsome on Saturday, February 11, 2006 at 8:06 pm