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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Walking a Fine Line

I don't know if I can explain this.

In my experience, the art of motherhood can be summed up by saying I walk a fine line between not wanting to over-react and not wanting to under-react. This has been crystal clear to me this weekend as little Charlie has had a low-grade fever since Friday night. I think it's probably related to teething but you can never be completely sure. As mommy, there is always a low-level feeling of gentle dread (if that's the right word) about my boy. It's not like I sit around worrying about him constantly or anything - but more that there is a living, breathing being existing outside my own body that I love as if he should be part of my body. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I should just leave it to the experts. Elizabeth Stone put it so eloquently:
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
Bingo, that's kind of what I'm trying to put into words. As Charlie's mommy, one of my greatest desires is to protect him. The really scary thing is the acute knowledge that I can't. I can keep him physically safe, at least now while he's small...and there are things I can do to try to protect him as he grows but when all is said and done, his precious life is beyond me. I guess any mother who has had a really sick child, or worse yet, lost a child (as horrifying as that thought is) can really speak to that.

I've said before that infertility taught me lessons about letting go and realizing that I have little control over some pretty major aspects of my life. In looking at that now, I can see that it was preparation...groundwork if you will for my life as a mother. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I like to be in control. While maybe not quite a "control freak," I do like to hold the reins. I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that I am a much better mother now than I would have been if things had worked out my way. Beyond the fact that I can't imagine my life with any other baby in it is the fact that I am a stronger, healthier, happier, generally better woman now than I was then. I'm sure I could have been a good mom but I wouldn't have been the mom I am now.

There will undoubtedly be many lessons along the road of motherhood that are going to remind me of this same point - that I ultimately have no control. It's a difficult life lesson to learn and one that undoubtedly needs to be reiterated time and again, at least for most of us. I think that whole point about walking a fine line is why mother's intuition can be so strong at times, and why it's so important to listen to those gut feelings.


10 comments:

E said...

Even though I'm not a mom yet, I got a lot of this...especially when you wrote about knowing that you are a much better mother now than you would have been had things worked out as originally planned. I believe that I will think the same thing. If I had gotten preggo when I wanted, I most likely would have taken motherhood for granted...it happens to everyone on some level, I suspect. But experiencing motherhood from the perspective of having not known how or when or if it was going to happen, having to struggle to build a family when others don't have to think about it nearly as much....I think of this perspective, ultimately, as a gift (although it doesn't feel like it most of the time).

Sorry that I got rambley, but your posts make me think! Not a great thing for me on a Sunday morning and no caffeine yet lol!

Tracey... said...

I AM RIGHT THERE WITH YOU! I'm 42 and I can't imagine now having been a mommy earlier...now was the perfect time!

Wendy said...

I agree with you, Melba. It's different when you come to motherhood by a route other than pregnancy. I am sure there are things that I would have taken for granted had we been able to get pregnant. We take nothing for granted at this point.

I do hope Charlie is feeling better and that it is just his teeth bothering him. Zoe hasn't had the fever, but her teeth are driving her crazy! None of them have poked through yet, so we're just waiting...

Ashley said...

Good post- things I think about exactly- all the time. I seriously feel like infertility and the adoption process was good prep for learning to let go of things I can't control. Hope C feels better!

Just Believing said...

So agree! Last night we left Faith with my mom totally capable hands but I couldn't help but worry so I thought I was crazy but then realized I am justified I love my daughter more than my own life and as just so worried about her...it is def a fine line!

Great post thanks for sharing!

Rebekah said...

Ben and I are a great balance because I tend to lean toward being too laid-back, while Ben worries/is cautious about everything! I completely agree that you have to go on your mommy gut and absolutely love the quote you posted...

As Ty gets older it will be difficult for me to let go. I don't want him to ever experience hurt or defeat...yet know it's a part of life...

I hope Charlie feels better soon, Ty has yet to cut any teeth, but I know it's coming :)

Jamie said...

i feel so much the same way ~ wanting to protect him from all things hurtful, scary, bad....but knowing that i can't and won't always be able to. roots and wings ~ such a delicate balance. :)

hope548 said...

As always, you said it perfectly and I completely agree!

Patti said...

I love that quote. I heard it for the first time shortly after I placed Colin, and it really spoke to me as a birthmother.

I also love this post :) Walking that line is tough. I want Jeb to only know good feelings, and experiences. I want him to only know happiness, and laughter, and rainbows. I hate the fact that for him to understand the richness of life he will have to know the unpleasant feelings, too. I know that strong character comes, in part, from hard lessons, disappointment, and other junk I'd rather just /tell/ him about rather than have to /watch/ him go through. I'm reminded of the lessons my parents tried to just /tell/ me, but of course I didn't listen! (And I'm better off for learning those lessons on my own, but shhhh! Don't tell Jeb that ;))

Debbie B said...

I wish I had learned this lesson. I have ruined many of Isabel fun exploring moments because I was too worried about her getting hurt. I've gotten better but it was rough at first.