now that i am a mother, i love it. watching a little person grow from almost literally nothing into a full-fledged human being is one of the most marvelous things i could possibly think of. every single accomplishment brings a rush of excitement that must look ridiculous from the outside: touching an object, holding an object, vocalizing, rolling over, pulling up, sitting down, cruising, growing hair. it's simply fascinating to see. it frightens me to think that he might not have ever happened.
but with that, i also find motherhood to be one tremendous sorrow after another. i learned within the first month of his life, in what some might consider to be a hormone-drenched month in mine, that having a child is to experience countless little deaths. i lost my newborn in a matter of weeks, never to return again. i mourned for him tearfully on a regular basis. i sobbed and shook.
i look back through photos and realize that the child sitting in front of me now babbling away is not the same one with short hair who could barely sit on his own. what feels like just the other day to me, was an entirely different phase of life for my baby. i feel myself tearing apart thinking of how a day will come when he doesn't remember how intimate our relationship is now. i feel like i'm sharing a secret with this baby that we're keeping from his future selves. the teenager and man who are to come will never know or fully understand. this baby, too, will surely go away for good.
and i looked at him last night lying in the dark sleeping next to me and realized that some day, hopefully a hundred years from now, oliver is going to die. it took my breath away. how can that be? how could that happen? i want so desperately to shield him from every potentiality for pain that life will inevitably throw his way. i want him to see only sunshine and daffodils. i want him to live in a little bubble dome that wards off the wavy cartoon lines of negativity shooting straight for him. i want it to deflect all the mean things people say and do and all the times a girl (or boy) will break his heart and every time he might be inclined to feel badly about himself or wind up with a failing grade on a test or fall off his bike and scrape his knee or worry about death and growing up or if the planet is going to implode or be hit by a meteor or suffocated by a population. i want to protect him from unwieldy dogs and frenzied squirrels; angered bees, wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets; interrupted fire ants; confused and hungry sharks; frustrated rays; unforgiving tree branches and squares of asphalt; unreasonable tempers of unhappy bosses; unexpected rain on his parade. i don't want him to know loneliness or sorrow or loss even if it means not knowing a more intense happiness by comparison. i don't want his joys to be brighter as a result of measuring them against his sadness.
i want to pull myself around him and hug him so tightly that i pull him back into me... absorb him back into the cells from which he came.
and while i look down this tunnel that is his life, i can't help but feel nudged to turn around and look behind me and see my own mother staring down a tunnel at me. i don't think you can really know until you have a child what it is that your own parents hold in their hearts for you (hopefully). i realize the sorrow she must have for what has been lost between us. how she remembers what i never will: the way she did everything for me, how she changed every last one of my diapers and fed me 10 times a day, gave me a bath every night and brushed my hair, helped me learn how to walk and talk, carried me from room to room, took my clothes off and dressed me again. all this and more only to watch me grow up and farther away. she watched me become an angst-ridden teenager who didn't want to be hugged. watched my insolence grow. held her pain down when she saw me hurt. cried silently when she could hear me down the hall sobbing in the middle of the night, pulling at my hair and my face, searching the covers for answers and reprieve and not finding any. asking the darkness why and not hearing any response. watched me move away. no more talking to me or seeing me every day or every week even. not having me call as often to ask for guidance.
i feel a pain from not being everything my parents always knew i could be. for not being as happy as i could possibly be.
it might sound like i have been reduced to a quivering mass of emotional distress, but one thing i have learned is that it's important to savor every moment like it's the last. in the case of an infant, it is. i'm learning to stop looking at the stressful, trying moments involved with raising a baby and remember that it will be gone before i know it. don't be frustrated by endless feedings. remember that they will be gone before long and be thankful for every one. don't lose your cool because the baby is falling apart. hug him and hold him and walk around with him for as long as he wants it. because the day will come when he doesn't want it or need it anymore. take him to the park every chance you get and put him in that bucket swing and watch his face light up and see his half-toothed giggle pour out, because he won't fit into that swing for much longer and his legs will become long enough that he can swing himself and then he won't hardly ever think of swinging at all.
the best bet i have of realistically protecting him from anything out there is by giving him the ability to generate his own bubble. i have to show him positivity and kindness and self-sufficiency and responsibility and optimism as a default life view so that the negativity abundant on this planet and in this people will be more likely to roll off of him. raise him so that he doesn't give a second thought to rising above the harried and frustrated behavior of others... not a second thought to understanding that it doesn't have to impact him... that he can lead by example. he can improve his own corner of the planet and hope that it's contagious.
this basically boils down to the fact that it's time for me to learn to see nothing but sunshine and daffodils. i need to move into my own bubble complete with domino effect that knocks into past generations as well as future ones. it's time to ramp up efforts to become what i should have become ages before. it's time to brush the negativity away from me and shuffle off the baggage that life has saddled me with. i need to climb up and stand on my own shoulders... let my past selves give me a leg up. atone for the sins of wasting so many years. it's been a long time coming and it's going to take much conscious reminding on my part.
i need to tie a string around my finger.