“Becoming a parent brings you this sadness you never would have known otherwise,”
said a dear friend to me on the phone, as I pushed my toddler in her stroller through the sharp wind and shushed my newborn baby, who was zipped up inside my coat in her carrier. And I felt that delicious sense of recognition, of discovering someone else feels the way I feel.
And while I don’t wish sadness upon my friends, it is incredible to have a peek into someone else’s tangled thoughts and feelings and find they look a little bit like mine.
Before I became a parent, people told me that motherhood would open me up to more joy than I thought possible.
But no one mentioned it would also hurt—that the hard times would hurt and the joy itself would hurt, in an aching, stretching sort of way. Kind of like the growing pains of childhood, or the opening pains of early labor, when it’s more of a dull ache.
Like when I crawl into my toddler’s bed to wake her up in the morning, and she wraps her arms around my neck and says, “I loves you so much, Mama,” and the sweetness makes me laugh. Right there, in the middle of the sweetness, is the ache.
The ache because one day, my beautiful oldest daughter will grow up and it will no longer be okay to nuzzle her ears and whisper sweet nothings and cuddle for hours. She will stop climbing on me while I try to nurse her sister, stop pretending to eat my nose and lick my cheek, stop demanding I hold her “like a baby.”
Because one day, I will die, and in so doing, leave my babies. I will not be here to witness them in their beautiful old age. Here I’ve been just trying to gain the courage to live and then I will have to summon the courage to die and leave it all behind, including my sweet babies.
The ache because they are going to fall down, literally and figuratively, and I can’t stop it from happening. Because they are going to get hurt—sometimes by me. They are going to suffer, and I have to let it happen because that’s just the nature of being alive.
The ache because just a few weeks ago, Grace Girl was a part of me; I was her home, and now she is her own.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I still feel the impermanence frosting every moment with a tenderness that mostly simmers in the background, but occasionally threatens to tear me apart.
In my prayers, I asked to be opened. I was remade a mother.
In his masterpiece, “>The Prophet,” Kahlil Gibran writes,
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain…When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.”
What gives you the courage to love? Share in the comments below!