Thursday, September 7, 2017


This IS life; a non-stop merry-go-round of offs and ons, stops, starts, and days when you feel like it just keeps turning round and round in an endless circle of sameness. The sameness is the illusion. 

The rhythm we seek to provide our children when they are home is a good thing. A daily routine provides a structure, a predictability to their day, to the seasons in the year. It is not, however, a treadmill that never veers off-course, or a moving sidewalk on a trajectory to adulthood. It is a backdrop, for all that life may present you with, a solidity among the ever-changing. 

Yesterday I met with the cardiologist who had seen Gael as a baby. This time it was for another child, and it was just a "make sure everything is OK," visit. But I'll bet that pediatric cardiologists are right up there with dentists for the appointments one dreads the most. An  hour after that, mostly reassuring visit, I lost the youngest in the park for an hour. He'd gone off with friends to explore along the creek, and he came back safely, but with wet feet. How kids are attracted to the water!

One of the best and worst moments of my entire career as a mother* was the instant I was finally able to hold my first child in my arms. Pregnancy had been harrowing and tenuous for months, ending in the most unplanned c-section in history.**I had been fervently praying since week 4: "Please, God, just let us make it through this whole pregnancy safe and sound." The "safe and sound" was, obviously, meant for the health of my baby, not mine. Then she was born, perfect and beautiful and...utterly tiny, naked and utterly vulnerable and my heart was rent right open with the realization that it had all just begun. 

I had thought, honestly, that I would have no more worries once my baby was born. All life's promises would have been fulfilled; and they were. What I did not know was that it would now never end. It was the beginning of never, ever, not being entirely connected to another person again. I am a mother. Worry is my new normal. "What if" is my new mantra. And change was the one thing to look forward to and to dread. Has she gained weight? Is she holding up her head alone? Sitting up alone? Can she talk? Walk? Run? Sail in freezing water in March? Yes! And what if, while doing all of this running, climbing, sailing, she gets hurt? sick? has her heart broken? 

So, little by little, I had to learn to trust. I (we) had to have faith that all would be well. Just as I began to feel confident that my child would not freeze to death (she was all of five pounds and born in December, it was real), or later, suffer a serious injury on the playground, she moved on to running into the ocean as soon as my head was turned. As soon as I trusted that my son would not drown in the creek by the park, he decided to learn to skateboard. (And man, did he skate! All over those crazy parks with ten-foot drop-ins and "bowls" and things. Eek.)

Today, Charles, 13, is riding his bike to school along busy city streets, Valentine is at a school where six security guards break up daily fights while teachers barricade students in their classrooms, Duncan will attend his college classes and then go to work at the car wash, where his colleagues are largely off-and-on prison dwellers, and Cate lives in an apartment with two other girls near a campus where gang shootings killed two or three people last week. Does this make me want to move to an island on a lake in Canada? Yes! It does! Sticking my head in the sand would be great, but there is precious little air to breathe underground. 

Change will not change. Hold them tight and then...pretend you let them go. But not too far. Enough for them to feel confident you think they will be fine. Until they finally grow the wings strong enough to carry them, so they can soar. And then, you can sit back and count your gray hairs...hopefully on just one hand. 

Footnotes:1) When I looked up the word "career" to see if I should use it for motherhood, the two definitions both seemed to apply: 1) "an occupation undertaken for a significant period of one's life, and with opportunities for progress," and 2) "move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way. " (Oxford Dictionary) Right?
2) That is my take on my first birth. I had prepped as much as any mother has ever, for a natural birth in a progressive hospital. At one minute after midnight, via emergency cesarean, our baby was born.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for stopping by. I am always happy to hear from you! Please leave a comment and let me know how you feel about a post or add advice, anecdotes, etc. of your own.