Sunday, April 1, 2012

What has happened to motherhood?

{A letter to you both}

Sometimes, I think about about a mother hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years ago. She was perhaps living in a cave or the woods. She lives with her family group. While pregnant, I am sure much is still expected of her. She has no body pillow or utrasound appointments. Just the reminder of the life that grows inside of her by the constant drumming of tiny feet. She gives birth to a baby with no medications. Can she yell or will that attract predators? Does her mother help her? She has no lactation consultant, no pump, no pacifier, no diapers. Is she expected to keep her baby quiet? How involved is the father? Does he help in the middle of the night? What does she feel? I assume the same animalistic urge to protect her child that I do. But does she feel pressure to "parent"? Or is she merely trying to keep her infant alive in the jungle?

With a toddler, she must worry about her child becoming prey or toddling right off a cliff or into a river. She has to make sure her child is warm enough. She has to make sure her child gets enough to eat. Does her child have tantrums? How does she discipline her child? What does motherhood mean to her? Perhaps it is simply a duty that she does. Perhaps her heart swells the way mine does when she watches her baby sleeping peacefully. But I guarantee she has to let go a lot sooner than I do. She cannot afford to be a shadow, a constant protector for very long.

Sometimes, I worry I that I worry too much. As a mother in this age, I am bombarded with dangers than could steal my babies away from me. Kidnappers, child killers, car accidents, buses, stairs, electrical outlets, drowning, SIDS, cancer, high fever, illness plus a million other ways harm could come to either of you (just tonight I read about the 21 month old who fell and drown in the washing machine-the washing machine). It feels smothering. Like I will never be able to deflect all the harm. Studies have shown the world is actually safer now than it has ever been. But I guarantee if you were able to interview me and the cave dwelling mother I would be infinitely more stressed about the safety of my children but also about the people my child will be become. I would be more stressed about being a mother than a mother who living in the wilderness so long ago.

There are so many ways I can fail.

I love you both so much. It is almost debilitating. For example, tonight, Elle I was in the backyard and I needed to run into the house for one second to grab something just inside the door. But this image popped into my head of some random man reaching over our fence and grabbing you in those 10 seconds and you were gone. And I did not go inside.

The craziest part is that I am one of the most laid back moms that I know. I question how I can raise you both to be strong, independent women if even schools scare me (school shootings, bullying, molesting teachers or peers). Sometimes, I just want to shut it all out and raise you both by my instincts like the ancient mother. I know my instincts are good. I know this is the most important job I will ever do but I get so many messages every day on how I SHOULD do it. How you both SHOULD eat, sleep, stay healthy, behave, relate to others. It is honestly exhausting. And I have never even read a parenting book.

So yes, I love you both so much that sometimes watching you both, it settles over me like a warm blanket and I want to stop that moment and live there forever. But I am going to try my best to stick to my instincts. Because you are my children and while you are little, I know what is best for you, as the answers are inside of me. Still hiding there from so long ago. But I still do not know how to block the fear. Losing either of you is the biggest and worst thing I can imagine. I don't know how I could make it go away. Or how I lessen it. It is like flying for me: I know the statistics but they do not keep me from crying silent, awkward tears on take off and gripping the arm rest with every bump. I just don't know how not to be fearful when it comes to my two, precious sweet babies.

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