OK, this post is a little personal and some of you might think it’s a bit weird. Does anyone else get a physical sensation of any kind when life feels especially satisfying?
A couple of years ago I made Alvin go and see a shrink with me so we could talk about our baby plans. He wanted a kid. I didn’t, but I also didn’t want to be responsible for the biggest disappointment of his life. We were a few sessions in to our explorations when the shrink pointed out how absolutely right we are for each other and, more specifically, how absolutely right Alvin is for me. I’m a severe introvert (although I’ve gotten better and better at hiding it over the years); he’s a homebody at heart but he’s also quite happy to socialize and pushes me out of my comfort zone to do it too. I plan everything; he is spontaneous. I can get a bit too wrapped up in worrying about all the things that might go horribly wrong (and with a kid, there are a LOT of ’em…); he says “what the heck?” and does it anyway. I ‘hold back’ to make sure I don’t get hurt; he’s all-in. He’s my biggest cheerleader. People tell me all the time “he’s so proud of you!”. (I’m actually tearing up a bit as I write this.)
I knew all of those things before, of course, but it wasn’t until that day that I put the whole package together and realized just how incredibly lucky I am to have him in my corner. Committed! He signed a contract! (Temporally astute readers will notice that I came to this realization some years after we were married. Well, yes. I knew I had a good thing – I just didn’t realize how good.)
For the rest of that day, and actually for several days afterward, I had the strangest feeling – you know how satisfying it is to bite down on a gummy candy? It allows your teeth to pass through but still offers a pleasant resistance – you have to work for it a bit. Well for those days every time I thought about the subject I felt like I was chewing gummy bears. It was the weirdest thing and it somehow felt very satisfying and ‘right.’
He got his way in the end, of course, and some months followed by 13
glorious interminable hours of drug-free labor Carys entered our lives. I have to be honest – no chewy feeling that day. I didn’t immediately feel that we’d made a huge mistake, so I achieved what I had hoped to achieve on her birth day, but it wasn’t love at first sight.
I was lying on the couch with her, as I usually do, while she drank her evening bottle a few days ago. I use it as Wants Nothing Quality Time – time when I’m not trying to accomplish a specific task but instead just roll with whatever she wants to do. She loves to tickle my ears with her toy tiger’s tail while I say “tickle tickle!,” and then touch my eyes and nose and her eyes and nose with her free had while I say what each thing is that she touches. All of a sudden I got the chewy feeling and I thought to myself “huh! I didn’t want a kid at all and here I am lying next to my kid and I’m getting the chewy thing again. Isn’t that interesting?” Seems like the more I open myself up to emotional experiences, the better life gets.
I’m curious as to whether anyone else has a physical sensation associated with mental or emotional satisfaction and is willing to share. Orgasms don’t count (different kind of satisfaction).
Do you want to understand how your child’s brain is developing?
If there's just no way you can get to all the reading on your child's development that you want to do, check out my free four-page summary of Your Child’s Growing Mind by Jane M. Healy, Ph.D.