This I Believe

Jennifer - Los Angeles, California
Entered on December 23, 2006

It is easy to hate a nick. The scratches on my new car have produced both bad moods and expletives. My discolored carpet has been subjected to all sorts of torture in my pursuit to eliminate its stains. And I have been a bit overzealous in my eyebrow plucking, wanting to remove any unsightly hair and occasionally taking off a bit of skin in the process. But I recently have developed a new relationship with nicks. I believe that nicks are our best teachers; they have taught me how to focus on all that is precious and good and right in my life.

My firstborn helped me learn this lesson. Determined to have a natural birth and be a Super Mom, I read every book on labor and bookmarked every website on motherhood. I viewed my son’s unmedicated birth as a reflection of my inner strength, and I was confident that I could endure contractions and master parenting. However, my plans were seriously derailed. Not only did I get the epidural, I also ended up having a caesarian section after pushing for four hours. When I got home from the hospital with Joaquin, my plan for life with baby was similarly tossed out. Three breast infections and a very wakeful infant contradicted my expectations of blissful breastfeeding and a slumbering newborn. Joaquin soundly scratched my ideas about decent wake-up hours and acceptable time limits on crying. I felt cheated out of the birth I wanted and exhausted by the demands of my child.

But sometime between consoling crying and battling constipation, I saw that I had been given everything that I wanted and more. I had a healthy boy full of spunk. My body was healing well. My husband and I had never been so close. And just like that, the apparent nicks disappeared into the background and the positive stood out clearly. This is the opportunity nicks present; they test whether we can separate the important from the trivial in our most challenging moments. Think of a M.C. Escher drawing – the kind that feature optical illusions and are always hanging in math teachers’ classrooms. We can see the fish swimming or we can see the birds flying – both are in the picture. I similarly can see my soft belly as nothing more than annoying extra skin and fat or as the place where my child grew into perfect babyhood.

Joaquin’s smiles are that much brighter because of his cries; those wails ironically help increase my joy. So instead of fighting the inevitable nicks that scar my material possessions and foil my plans, I have learned to embrace them and see how they keep me humble by highlighting all that I have. They record all of my life’s real, unforgettable moments. And with this viewpoint, I don’t want to be the paragon of parenting or the model mom; I just want Joaquin’s life to leave its full imprint on my being, however it nicks me.