For this moment forever sing for my darling that I love you.

19 Jul

From time to time, my heart aches and burns. It ebbs and flows, moves from me through diaper changes, time outs, the constant muddle of cleaning up, toys in the box again.

Before I had children, I felt nothing like this, nothing nearing the grasping power that my heart now holds. I was never this joyous, or scared. I was never this *here*.

Kate at Sweet/Salty started a….conversation the other day that took on a life of it’s own and polarized people on two ends almost accidentally.

She stated something many of us feel to be a truth as a parent-that you do not feel pain as a parent as you do when child free.

I feel this to be truth.

If you read the comments, all 121 of them, you’ll hear the screeching of the childfree saying “I’ve felt pain! I’ve suffered!” as if it’s a competition to beat out the mother mourning her child. “We’re people too! US! US! It’s not fair! What about us? You’re so MEAN to us! How dare you call us pussies, directly, or by implication.”

My heart flutters and sighs, because I know. How I know.

Before children, that time that seems forever and a few minutes ago, I hurt. I felt the pain of losing my mother, the pain of being abused, the pain of being the daughter of an alcoholic, the suffering of being a crazy person who didn’t know they were crazy. I felt it, a numbing vapo-rub kind of pain. Life was lived in pastel. I slept late and ate take out. I dreamed of a life lived only for me, and that was just fine.

Then I accidentally had a child, then another. And my heart bloomed, opened up, unfolded. It became bigger, it became more than it was. And suddenly, it understood.

You don’t get why your parents get so mad at you sometimes, not until you’ve really worried about your child. Sure, I worried about my mother when she was sick, but nothing will ever compare with the time Vivian had a seizure, and I panicked and just sat their crying and screaming and begging her to breathe, willing her to not die-my mind screamed in purple YOU CAN’T DIE! The fear choked me, surrounded me, like a cloak. I had felt nothing like this ever before. I realized then two things-losing my child would kill me, and that I loved her with every inch of my being. I had a passion for my daughter.

Maybe it’s biological, which would make sense. But out of all the experiences I have had, none have burned as brightly as the love I hold for my children. Do those who haven’t experienced it claim their love or loss is just as valuable or strong because they cannot be undone? Or because they truly believe, as I did, that they couldn’t feel anything the way that parents described? I never anticipated this-I “pshawed” all the cooing “you  just wait” mothers who surrounded me-what did they know about my heart?

But oh. Oh oh oh oh. There is a density to the love you hold for a child, a willfulness that IS different from what you feel for other things. I adore William Carlos Williams, ripe peaches, perfect starry nights. My chest swells with these things. I have felt the loss of many things, crushed from my grasp so often. And yet nothing, absolutely nothing can come anywhere near the flush love I hold for my girls.

Our lives hold stages, and pardon me for stealing from Wicca, but I firmly believe that we move through Maiden, Mother, Crone. What I felt as a maiden is nothing I feel like a mother. They are different people, as Crone Thordora will be different again. I do not measure them against each other anymore than I explain music to the deaf. But I will revel in Mother me, and learn to love the Crone I am to become.

Or maybe it’s just that before kids we think we know everything, and after, we come to realize that when you can’t make a 8 pound infant stop crying, you really know nothing at all.

16 Responses to “For this moment forever sing for my darling that I love you.”

  1. mercurial scribe July 20, 2007 at 5:10 am #

    I had a miscarriage two years back… it was a terrible experience. The pain was different from anything I could refer to up to that point… except for when my brother nearly drowned.

    I raised my brother in most senses. I changed his diapers in the middle of the night and sung him back to sleep. I taught him how to ride a bike, held his hand on the way to preschool, then kindergarten and then grade school. How I could go on with the memories… I even taught him about the birds and the bees…

    When he nearly drowned, I thought I would die from the terror. After my miscarriage, I kept thinking about how deeply I felt for him – my baby, my baby brother – and how that didn’t even take biology into account. And the sadness I felt from that little life leaving my body… Motherhood is something I look forward to with great excitement and a great deal of fear, maybe the only thing left I truly have fear for.

    Lovely post, as always, thordora.

  2. thordora July 20, 2007 at 7:26 am #

    I think that’s an important point-motherhood isn’t biological. In a sense, your brother WAS your baby. That terror is so overwhelming.

  3. radicalmama July 20, 2007 at 8:58 am #

    The pain is different once you are soley responsible for the well-being of another human, a person you would gladly die for. That sort of pain beyond your own feelings and suffering just doesn’t happen on the same level with people other than your children. I think that there are times in my life when I made bad decisions and my mom suffered through them even more than I did, if that makes any sense.

  4. bec July 20, 2007 at 9:34 am #

    So true.

    ‘density’. Damn. You know I’m going to have to steal that adjective for exactly this context.

  5. jen July 20, 2007 at 10:17 am #

    i followed that too and thought Kate was brilliant and am glad you wrote this. i know for me, as a pussie i once felt what i thought was terrible, deep pain. all very real. and then as a mom, i’ve felt that same pain with a sharp twist of the knife. the pain has rougher edges now, i had no idea about this and yet it’s true (for me) it’s more vulnerable, this knife twisty pain.

    nicely done.

  6. cherylann July 20, 2007 at 10:18 am #

    Absolutely. and I completely agree with bec… “density” is a perfect word.

  7. sweetsalty kate July 20, 2007 at 10:35 am #

    Oh, you put this so much more gracefully then I… 🙂

  8. thordora July 20, 2007 at 10:39 am #

    I so totally wanted to stomp my feet at people and just yell “No, really you DON’T GET IT!!!!!” I didn’t without kids!

    I hated seeing you get ganged up on, and it bugged me. And I thought about how I felt before kids for a day or so, and I knew it was different. How could it NOT be different?

  9. Eden July 20, 2007 at 11:22 am #

    I used to feel like this before I had kids. I thought that I could understand how a parent felt or that my experiences wouldn’t be changed in the context of being a parent. It changes everything and that’s just a fact. No one’s pain is bigger, better, etc. Just different.

    I totally agree w/ your maiden/mother/crone assessment. I think of that often b/c it’s so true. I’m very much in the “mother” part of life. I assume that was assisted by actually becoming a mother but it’s not necessary. It’s a level of maturity and experience.

    If people want to be competitive then they SHOULD have kids and deal with all the “my kid’s potty-trained” “my kid’s in advanced math” “my kid can play seven instruments at once” bullshit.

  10. gartenfische July 20, 2007 at 5:22 pm #

    I agree, totally. And the interesting thing is, it never changes. My daughter is twenty-one years old and I still feel the same love/fear for her as I did when she was two. I don’t know why I expected it to change. Maybe because it felt like, when I left home, my parents stopped caring about me–I was out of the house and that was it.

    Love your blog. Just found it. (I’m new to blogging myself.) Will be back.

  11. LGirl July 21, 2007 at 7:58 am #

    Agreed here..
    It’s never more clear than when you are doing the Heimlich on your 7yo or spotting your 2yo floating face down in the ocean. Ack. You’ll never understand it until you have lived it.

  12. roxy July 21, 2007 at 10:43 am #

    I understood, intellectually, the changes I’d face when I got pregnant. But understanding and knowing in my blood and bones are so different. I’ve written over and over how I feel like motherhood’s a club I never thought the door man would pass me into, but I really did think I was going to be a childless woman by choice until a few years ago.

    Now the feeling of connection with other moms is primal. We’re initiates.

  13. Missy July 21, 2007 at 12:35 pm #

    I could never even imagine my mother’s pain, let alone acknowledge it existed, until I became a mother myself.

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