Learning to share

Something Otto recently picked up at daycare (or so I assume… maybe it’s innate in humans?) is when asked to share an object, he clutches it to his chest and declares it “mine.” Well, not so much with a period, but an exclamation point.

“Mine!”

I can appreciate how necessary and profound this declaration is in a roomful of 20 other clamoring, self-centered 2-year-olds, especially when the object really does belong to him (say, his sippy cup) but even just when he’s playing with a toy that someone else wants.

I get it.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve wanted to shout “Mine!” about a magazine, a shower, my hair, a moment on the toilet. I’m not even certain I have my own thoughts anymore; I’m hoping this blog will help me find some.

And then there is this being inside me taking my iron, my energy, my entire midsection, my ability to cross my own legs for crying out loud. For a very painful moment I will share my vaginal canal, then for months my boobs, and for years, my partner, my money, a life free from intense worry about some ridiculously horrible tragedy that will happen to my kids.

Last night at dinner, Otto asked for a drink of my water. I really didn’t want to share this either.

But I thought it would be a good opportunity. Yes, I will share. As he sipped, bits of sour cream left his face to cloud the glass.

“Now,” I said, “Will you please share a bite of your quesadilla with me?” I thought it would be easy, since I knew he was done eating anyway.

“Mine!” He snapped, stuffing a piece in his mouth.

I sighed, contemplating how I would handle this. As a few quiet seconds passed, so did a piece of quesadilla from Otto’s hand to mine.

Turns out, he was more than happy to share. He was beaming. It was as if he just wanted to rightfully claim what was his before doling it out. In fact, he gave me the rest of what was on his plate.

Parenting is hard. There are moments—sometimes entire days— when I’d rather not share my body with this soon-to-be baby or so much of my waking (and often near-sleeping) moments with a toddler. But what I’m realizing is that this is a big part of why I wanted to become a parent in the first place. To share my life, my experiences, my home, my partner, my love with another little person who doesn’t just take, but who also shares his life, his experiences, his baby wisdom with me.

The thing I’m trying to learn is something Otto demonstrated last night – how to balance my needs with the rest of the family’s. You know, how to have my quesadilla and share it too.

I’m realizing that even though sometimes it feels like all I do is let Otto eat off my plate and drink from my glass, at night, after he falls asleep and I spy his sweet little rear end kissing the sky, his very existence is part of what keeps me in balance.

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