Saturday, October 3, 2009

Charlie's Childhood

This post has been one that's been churning in the back of my mind for a while now. Ever since I became a mom...which is to say, ever since I fulfilled one of my life's greatest dreams, I've been thinking a lot about the pressure I think most mothers feel regarding their children. I don't know if I can give words to my thoughts, but I'm going to try:

Now that we have Charlie, there's this thing...this magical "other" that is much bigger than me, and that is happening almost of it's own accord. This thing, this almost tangible entity that is being created as the days slip into months, which blend into years is Charlie's childhood.

When I look at our little boy, I am amazed and humbled by the essence of his life. This other human being has now been placed in my care, for better or worse. By and large, the quality of his life is now dependent upon me. Everything I do, every decision I make, whether small or large, now impacts another human being. There is no way to not feel a little overwhelmed by that. But I mostly feel overwhelmed in a good sense if that's possible. Maybe "overwhelmed" is the wrong word anyway. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say I feel awed by the sheer responsibility, and ultimately, the joy of it all.

And that's not to say that all aspects of being a mother are joyful. There are a lot of mundane, and even gross aspects of the job too. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. But it also shines through me, and puts an extra spring in my step. I guess what it boils down to is that I don't really think I can articulate what goes through my mind when I look at Charlie's face. To say that I love him is an understatement of epic proportions. Even something as big as love doesn't quite cover "mother."

I think most mothers probably feel that same sense on some level, even if they don't actively think about it. But "mother" means many different things to many different people, as does "childhood."

To me, childhood is a precious time, and something that people carry with them throughout life. When someone has a traumatic or difficult childhood, you can bet there will be lifelong repercussions. Likewise, those of us who are lucky enough to have had a good childhood treasure that as one of our greatest lifetime gifts. My husband and I were both lucky in that regard, and we want nothing more than to be able to give our son the gift of a happy and carefree childhood as well.

But the thing is, he's only one boy. Sometimes when I think about all the hurt and abuse out there, I can actually feel a physical pain. Every baby deserves to be loved as much as Charlie is loved, and it's sometimes too much for me when I think about those who are not. Today at the store I actually saw a grown woman telling her crying toddler to shut up. When he then ran away from her down the isle, she told the other adult she was with to, "Just run over him with the cart, maybe then he'll get out of the way." Yeah, this actually happened...and it made me so angry.

Sometimes I can be guilty of thinking too much, or of being too emotional and too sappy, but I don't understand how some people honestly don' t think (or worse yet don't care) about the impact they have on their children. Parenthood is a precious gift, and I wish more people could think of it as such. What would the world be like if every baby were loved?

I would never wish the pain and heartache of infertility on anyone, ever. But I sometimes do wish people would realize...stop and think about what they have when they look at their children. We waited so long to become parents, and I'm endlessly glad that period of our lives has come to an end. I love that we are now moving forward again, and that we get to relive so much of the joy of life through our son.

Still, I can honestly say that I'm now thankful for those waiting years. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that those years made me the mother I am. It is that very same heartache, that very same waiting that keeps me constantly in check about the impact I have on my son, about the kind of mother I want to be, and about the kind of childhood I want Charlie to have.


RB said...

Great post Melba :) I think that unfortunately some people just don't realize what a gift it is to be a parent.

Blessed said...

That was a great post! And I think a lot the same things, how we would love to give every parentless child a home and love and adoration we give to Faith...

Charlie is so lucky

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, as always! I feel the same way, too, that I wish every child could be as loved as Evie and Charlie (and many others) are.

E said...

Loved this post. I know that there are "those days" for all parents when it must be just so frustrating. Unfortunately, there are some that take the fact that they have a child or children for granted. You're a wonderful mom, Melba. btw, the new header looks great. Gotta love that smile!!

Jill said...

Another great post Melba! I too have seen the situations you just described, including a beating at our local children's hosp that made me cry. I think EVERYONE should have to go through the training and background checks we adoptive parents do. I know it wouldn't erase all abuse and neglect, but I think it might make some people pause.
Chalie is one lucky boy for having you as his mama!
Hugs, Jill

Mary B. said...

This is such a great post! You truly realize what a gift you have in Charlie! That's a wonderful thing!

BB said...

Oh, melba! Me, too!! I can't articulate how much every second I get to spend with my little girl is so important to me. I will be forever thankful for the years I spent waiting!! Great post!

Kel said...

Charlie will have a wonderful childhood with you in charge! You're so fun!

It hurts me too, the pain of other children. I want to help, so I'm taking some training to be a counselor and later when our little guy is a year or so old, we're going to get a foster license, so that we can help put a bright spot in some sad little lives (one at a time)

Jessica said...

Beautiful post! I love to see how blessed your family is and how much you guys really recognize and appreciate it.

My husband and I were just talking today about this. We were talking specifically about charitable giving and where we wanted to dedicate our money and prayers. It came out of the blue from my husband, he had just really been thinking about it and felt moved to get bahind certain children's charities because of what he's experienced as a dad. He just kept saying "I just can't imagine if Colt were in that position". Our little boy has done a number on him, and he really is daily thinking about how he wishes he could love on and make life better for the other children out there who aren't as fortunate.

We've been given a gift with our children, and it's good to know that so many don't take that gift lightly!

Debbie B said...

Excellent post. You're really making me think and reflect lately. That's good!
With all the stress and I need it now attitudes that are around us it's hard to keep these precious things in the front of our mind, rather our heart.
I ache when I hear similar things that you witnessed. My heart breaks within my own extended family when I see the lack of participation in the kids lives. I'm busy and sometimes I forget certain things but our children and my nieces will never and should never be forgotten. Because it just doesn't matter about anything else when they're around. They are the most important part of that time. Making memories with them that will hopefully last a very long time. Now I'm getting all teary, doesn't help that Extreme Home Makeover is playing in the background, that always makes me cry.

Thanks for sharing!

Andi-bo-bandi said...

Just spoil the be-jeebers out of him and he'll be fine. ;)

Tempting tho, isn't it?

Just your thoughts show what a great mom you are, Melba. Your Charlie is lucky and blessed to have you!

PS He is SO darn cute I just want to come steal him for a bit!!! How's his hair doing? KJ's started to get more kinky and coarse at about Charlie's age.

hope548 said...

I love this post! Melba, so often your writing completely mirrors my thoughts, but I cannot express them as eloquently as you. I often think of how lucky I am to be able to watch the growth and development of another human being from the time he was two days old and for the rest of his life. It's the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. I can't wait to show him all of the things we love. Parenthood is such an amazing adventure and you're right, we are almost completely responsible for our kid's childhood experience. I also agree that I would not be the mother I am today if not for the long struggle to become one. I love and appreciate my son every single day even when he's acting a little bratty, though I also realize it is my responsibility to teach him manners and appropriate behavior. I wish all parents felt that way!

Jen said...

Wow! Thank you so much for this post. It is Awe-inspiring, to be reminded, especially in those moments of frustration that seem to inevitably creep up on me, of the preciousness of this gift I've been given, of Parenthood. It is continually vital to my well being to step back, or step in, as the case may be and just look around at the joy, blessing, and beauty of this whirlwind adventure.

KLTTX said...

What a great post. Being a mother is a hard job if you do it right.

Jamie said...

i agree ~ even though the past several years have been so painful....i'm thankful for the experience and the lessons i learned along the way and for the mother i can be to milo because of it.
wouldn't it be wonderful if every child was able to experience a happy and loving childhood. we can't help every child, but we can certainly do our part with the children that God has given us. :) you are a wonderful mother melba ~

Mary B. said...


I nominated you for a blog award. See my blog to pick it up and get the details!

Mary B.

Malloryn said...

I'm late in commenting but I just had to tell you that this was a wonderful post. We are so lucky to be parents!

Tracey said...