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.