Monday, November 20, 2006

The "Ooooooooooo" Response

In 2001, I wrote a piece for the book, Human Moments: How to Find Meaning and Love in Your Everyday Life, by New York Times bestselling author Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. (I would highly recommend this book, by the way, and not just because my anonymous story is in it! It's just a wonderful book about how to discover the things that really matter in life, with some beautiful personal stories by Dr. Hallowell and others.) Following is what Dr. Hallowell wrote to introduce the piece, and then my own story:

When you bring your first child home from the hospital, your skill level is low and the challenge is great. Psychologists will tell you this is a recipe for anxiety. However, nature has built into babies and their parents a special protection against this anxiety, which I call the "Ooooooooooo" response. When you hold any baby, but particularly your own baby, you experience a special kind of human moment characterized by a feeling of "Ooooooooooo." Translated into English, "Ooooooooooo" roughly means, "You are so incredibly adorable and cute and lovable and so divinely cuddle-able that I would like to simply rock you in my arms forever, and I just do not have the words to describe the transcendent feeling that you give me." The author of the following short piece gives an excellent example of "Ooooooooooo." -- E.H.

Eleven years ago, I was a new mother. I'd always wanted to have a child but, like most new parents, I was somewhat surprised at how overwhelming it was to keep my baby happy twenty-four hours a day. One particular evening, my little son had been overly fussy, and both of us were worn out from his crying. Finally, exhausted, I lay down on the couch with the baby stretched across my chest. Both baby and I fell fast asleep.

A while later, I awoke to the bright glow of the moon shining through the window. I opened my eyes to find this tiny body still sprawled across me, his little hands tightly clutching the sides of my shirt. His bow-shaped mouth was slightly open and his sweet baby breath caressed my face with each rise and fall of his chest. His skin was translucent, and his dear face was the picture of innocence bathed in the moonlight. Tears came to my eyes, as I realized that this delicate child nestled close to my heart had truly stolen my heart. I felt wondrously blessed to have this precious son.

From that moment on, whenever I grew frustrated with my attempts to keep my child satisfied, I'd transport myself back to that perfect night, to feel again the soft weight of his warm body on mine and his light breath blowing across my face.

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