To the Edge and Back

Sara - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on August 7, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood

I believe that being a mother magnifies every emotion. There is nothing to prepare you for it–no childbirth preparation or parenting book comes close to explaining the depth of this experience—the well of emotion called mothering.

Joy. Did I ever know joy before she reached out and touched my face? Before her sister smiled at me for the first time? How often have I laughed? How often have I danced around with all the blinds open? Joy makes your insides swell, makes you forget that you are tired, and makes room for countless emotions to take over.

Boredom. How did I go from working 50 hours a week to waking up earlier than I ever had to, only to sit on my ass for most of the day? I remember my mother saying that the “years flew by.” I thought to myself, “what the hell was she talking about” as I experienced the bleak Michigan midwinter, hours marked by feedings and diaper changes. I had thought that boredom was a bad class. What good mother says that sometimes she is bored?

Fear. Never before did I want a Xanax to fly. Greater than my fear of a plane crash is my fear of losing one of my girls. I remember when the first was 9 months old. I was walking to a friend’s house when I noticed a white van driving slowly behind me. It turned out that he was looking for a well-disguised house number. But in my primal mind, he was ready to knock me down and rip my baby out of her stroller. I saw myself leaping up onto his back, raking my fingernails into his eyes and over his neck, like a lioness defending her offspring against a predator. Who could have told me that I would have such thoughts?

Frustration. Traffic jams used to frustrate me. In fact, I described them as my own personal hell. Now I know that rocking a baby to sleep, only to have them wake up when you put them down is a whole other level of frustration. Dealing with irrational meltdowns and constant repetition takes me to the edge. How often do I fall over the edge only to have to clamber back to my own plateau and start each day anew?

Love. What did I love before? A good gin and tonic; watching Tori play live; spending a rainy day consumed in a book; giving a great gift. I loved my mom. I loved their father. But this mother love is an all-consuming, all-forgiving love. It softens my heart. It makes me forget my pain. It teaches me how to accept help. It shows me that my heart is good and open. Love magnified is exponential—it continues to grow despite my imperfections, despite my failed attempts at remaining rational. It helps me remember that this is my place right now. Even when those less pleasant emotions take over, love always prevails, and I am so very grateful.