Sometimes I wonder when it all went wrong. When did the child inside of me die? When did I lose my first spark of innocence? When did my eyes not only look outward and see darkness, but realize it reflected a pervasive darkness on the inside? I have long privately and publicly pondered and discussed the heavy weight of pain, and great joy, in life. In this blog, I wanted to connect all of that to motherhood in some way. Shortly after I concluded watching a show about teen suicide, I made another connection. The nightmare to come, a circle of hell I had not anticipated, was to watch it happen — to watch that loss of innocence firsthand. I would see my child grow, and I’d be able to note when her life changed. This time from the outside. I would see when she grew out of her constant joy and wonderment. I would notice it fade, slowly with time or piecemeal by event, the way I now so wholeheartedly love to watch it grow. The smiles that light up her face and the room around her are as bright and exuberant as the sun. Do I have to look into the eyes of a girl without that spark? Will I know her darkness? Maybe I would have my answer to the question of how it all goes wrong in a person’s life. That would be my punishment. That would be my price to pay in motherhood, for my mistakes. It would be an answer I never really wanted to know.
My worst fear is losing her. Even worse is that she would take away a life I’d dreamed of giving her and the love and love and love I poured into her creation and formation and growth. That she came into this world so perfect. That her heartbeat was the most beautiful and perfect thing I could imagine on such a deep level. That we all come into this world with someone thinking we are perfect and beautiful. You are just as worthy and loved as anyone else and you were loved even before your first single cell existed. What happens to us? Where do we become lost? I didn’t fully realize until now that the punishment didn’t have to be actually losing my child, or even unbearably witnessing her feel as if her precious life was not worthwhile, but that even watching her lose her faith in the fascinating world around her could be heartbreaking. Her cries of uncertainty or fear or want have always hurt me and jostled my senses because I don’t want her to feel lost. Someday though, she will cry. She will be struck realizing that she is crying because she doesn’t know why. She won’t know why life is the way it is. I sympathize because I vividly saw my mother suffer when I suffered. I’ve always dreaded that feeling, especially when the degree is extreme, when you fear losing the life of the person you live for. I suppose what I’m thinking of now is the difficult stages of life that we all face — the loss of innocence, the tears that reach beyond just wanting a toy that was taken away. How do we as parents watch and react to those future cries? All cries, even baby ones, are about big things — what we feel can always be big in our minds and our hearts — but what happens as they develop, as they evolve into deeper pain. What can we do about those tears? What can we do except look and see how it happens, how we become our flawed, beautiful human selves, and reassure them that we don’t lose all our battles, that life means just as much and as little for anyone else, and not falter in empowering them with our age and experience. How, I don’t know exactly. We all get emotional in good ways and bad ways watching our babies grow up. I just needed to articulate one way I know I don’t anticipate, because I don’t want her to have to give me the answers to the questions that opened my entry. We don’t want to lose our joyous, happy babies. Good luck, mommies.