Thursday, September 28, 2006

pitfall

blake had to get 2 teeth pulled at the dentist this morning. he was such a freaking trooper. he is seriously such a bad ass, awesome kid! i heart him in a big way.

but i wanted to touch on how it feels when your child is in pain and you are powerless to do anything to stop it. even when it's something as stupid as a needle in his mouth to numb it from the dentist. watching him cringe, little tears falling from eyes, and hearing him say "ouch" in a painful voice- makes my stomach go into knots. it's hard to describe the feeling you get when your child is hurting. the way your heart hurts and feels like it's slowly breaking. the way your brain and mind beat you up because instinct tells you that you should be able to make it stop. and it's not a feeling that immediately goes away either. it's something i literally feel, on my shoulders, right now. it's so weird being a mom sometimes. and you could never explain this to someone who has yet to become one, because there is no proper way to do it. at least nothing that even remotely does it justice. how do you explain these feelings of powerlessness? how can you tell someone that nothing in their life will ever be the same again? in ways you can never imagine because you can't even comprehend it right now.

and i wonder.. do guys get the same feeling? when their child is hurt, do they get that pit of the stomach, weight on the shoulders feeling?

all of this reminds me of this "poem" i used to carry in my wallet:

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of starting a family.
"You think I should have a baby?"
"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.
"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations..."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. Want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so profound that she will forever be vulnerable. I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a mama bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation. I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. Right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it all up in moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years - not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish hers.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby's bottom or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving in defense of children. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future. I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.
"You'll never regret it," I finally say.
Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. This blessed gift ... that of being a Mother.

22 comments:

norcalgirl28 said...

Yes. When Drew had to go under for almost four hours at CPMC last year for all that dental work, I spent the entire time trying to figure out how I could have stopped it. This, even though all of the specialists told me it was because of a fever when he was two and lack of treatment by his previous dentist. Nothing that Drew or I did had caused this condition. Frank almost cried when he got the final cap on and Drew was crying and still trying to hold still so the cap could set. So...yes Daddy felt just as bad and pit in the stomach sick when Drew was going through this. I feel for you as I can picture Blake and his face and now I am getting wet eyes. I'm sorry you had to go through this and I am so proud of Blake.

DDM said...

My husband did. When our son had his big, fat, scary surgery in January, Daddy/husband was just as sick to his stomach as I was. He's an EMT, so I didn't expect that from him. But he's a Daddy first, and this was his kiddo in pain. He had a harder time being at the hospital than I did, and wasn't in a good frame of mind to stay overnight with our boy.

I'm sorry Blake went through that! YUCK!! I hope he feels better VERY soon. And Mommy? You too!

Melissa said...

I think that good dads do. Dads who pay attention who have to watch their kids go through something like that. Well Nick does I know that and my step-dad does. He was so scared for me when I had surgery and shit I was 21 not a kid anymore. But he was as upset as my mom was.

Poor Blakey. I hope his mouth feels better soon. Ice cream helps. ;)

And I hope you feel better soon too. I know it's hard to watch your kid be in pain...but he is okay and that is what matters.

Jodi said...

You know, the timing of this post is perfect. As always. I was just looking at Connor & Trent yesterday and such love swelled up in my heart that I couldn't even put into words. I never had any idea that I could love another person so much that I'd be without words. And I like to talk so that's something for me to say! :) Few things leave me speechless.

I hope Blake is feeling better and his mouth is not hurting. What a brave little guy he was! :)

Eileen said...

Wow. As a childless woman I drank in every word of that thing in silence and loved it.

Becky said...

i love that poem. and you know, i think dads DO get that feeling. when hannah was in the hospital exactly a year ago right now, any time they had to check her for anything even though she wasn't even in pain, matts eyes teared up becaues to her it was so painful to even BE in the hospital. nevermind when they actually had to give her shots or ivs....it was freakin painful to watch and feel. and to know that matt was feeling the same thing as me...that no one else could relate to because no one else was her parents...it was a bond that will last for eternity. youre right. there IS no way to explain motherhood w/o not giving it justice. there just isnt. and i'm totally linking you right now in my blog because i relate to this SO much. especially lately. xo

Kristin said...

There must be something in the air... I am also feeling very sentimental about my kids today.

And yes... I physically hurt when my children hurt.

Anonymous said...

So true...so very, very true.

Made me weep a little, too, because that is EXACTLY what happens when you become a mother. There's no feeling in the world like it.

De-lurking to tell you that I enjoy reading your site, too.

radioactive girl said...

I totally understand the feeling! When my son was young and his asthma made us go to the hospital all teh time I felt sick in a way that I can't even describe. I completely understand. I wish I could take it all instead of them, and I'm sure most good moms do too.

Momster4 said...

Welcome to my world! I remember several times I felt so helpless to help the suffering of you kids. The time you got "beat up" at San Jose. You called so upset and crying, my heart just broke. Your dad has just started a new job and was unavailable and when I finally got to tell him, he didn't seem very concerned and didn't want to go up there. I wanted to come but didn't. I have felt bad about that ever since. I was very surprised at your dads reaction. I don't know if he ever talked to you or not, but that incident has "haunted" me ever since. So, here is a public apology- please forgive me for not rushing to your side as a good mom should have. I could go on, but just take it to suffice that I am sorry and I love you.
Mom

alison said...

I'm honored to post below Mom. :)

Chris is the same way with our kids as I am---it hurts us both and makes us physically sick to see either of our babies in pain. It's the worst feeling in the world. Even when they're just sick, I feel that way!

Her Bad Mother said...

This makes me cry. In a good way.

Mieke said...

This was an awesome post! I cried and remember when my daughter had a cavity last year and had to undergo that pain of a needle, etc.. I cried right there! Your "poem" was so great and right on. I remember when I was pregnant at 21 and scared to death wondering how I would love and take care of a baby, then the moment she was born, I knew it was a feeling that was automatic and powerful. Whenever anyone picks on my daughter, I fight the urge to really want to kick their ass! And the pain thing, blah!! I hope Blake is feeling ok!

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW. I rarely cry and I am actually crying because that poem you have is true to the core. I cried at its truth. I cried at how thoughtful the mother was in considering what to tell her daughter no matter how much she wants to be a grandmother.

I always feel like becoming a mom was the biggest regret and proudest best thing I have ever done in my life. Both. At the same time. It is both of these things. Because of wha t you both said, the weight of it on you every day and the vulnerability and the guilt over every decision and the second guessing.

I hug you about Blake. I am glad that's over with.

Lisa

Survivin said...

Jacob came home on Monday and was so excited to tell me he had no tooth decay. LOL. The school gives them exams and they said he had perfect teeth, they also gave him a new toothbrush. Now he uses the toothbrush obsessively. I hope has good teeth and has no issues.

carrie said...

So much of this is incredibly true for so many of us. I can see why you carried it around in your purse!

And yes, Daddys feel this too, they just show it in a different way. And it doesn't matter how strong and capable they may seem on the outside, when you are helpless to do anything for your child (like when they're in surgery or at the dentist), it sucks - in a BIG way!

Carrie

ablondeblogger said...

That was so beautiful...and so accurate! Having my three children has been the biggest blessing I could ever receive in my life.

Stephanie A. said...

God, every time Hugo hurts it's 10 times worse than my own pain. And yes, I can feel it for hours later, too.

That made me very teary and I have to ask- could you please start putting disclaimers that read, "Stephanie- don't read this entry at the grocery store." For some reason you always tear me up when I'm checking blogs at the grocery store on my lunch!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Gawd. I am so crying right now. I love that "poem".

Mayberry said...

Thank god my kids have been mostly spared but it is SO HARD. Hope Blake is doing better.

Ella said...

What a lovely poem. It sums up so perfectly what being a mother is really about.

Mike said...

Our daughter was throwing up uncontrolably a few weeks ago. The sad look on her face was horrible. Especially since she's less than one year old. There was no way to explain to her that she would be ok. She looked so confused and scared.