Wednesday, June 10, 2009

You Just Get

A little while ago I had a conversation with Kirsten about the surprises of having children. Another new mother, she has also found that while we prepared ourselves for “nothing will ever be the same” we could never have prepared ourselves for what that actually, daily, really meant.

The disappointments that come with losing all control of your life, the challenges associated with the things we do not like or enjoy about motherhood, the seldom acknowledged but palpable grief we feel over the loss of our former lives all get obscured by our children. We feel all this for them. We give all this up: control, sleep, a bit of ourselves for the children that bring us to a new place, an Invisible City for every new mother.

Until our children were born we were denied entry. The passports required were not yet assembled. But with the baby came the journey and we arrive on the shores of the Land of the New Self in which you meet, for the first time, the person you have become. It is the Land in which you are a mother.

Kirsten also said something to me in our conversation that I haven’t been able to shake, “You just get.” We do. Be it a boy when we hoped for a girl, be it Costello Syndrome rather than a typical child, be it brown eyes rather than blue, we just get. It’s a Yankee swap, the lottery, bingo. You put a hand into a bag and pull out your future. No backsies.

There are people who say that you only get what you can handle. I don’t agree. I have no gifts that endowed me with a special patience, acceptance or greater virtue. But I had to adapt. I had to change. I had to learn for my daughter because she needed me to. That’s motherhood. You change. You learn. You adapt because if you don’t you will lose the most important thing in your new life: the health and happiness of your child.

If I just got her than Willa just got me. Yes, I think we were lucky to get each other. We have both worked hard this year. Her to live and flourish. Me to break old boundaries I had set for myself and grow new distant horizons I hope to reach. And if it’s not her fault for being who she is, if it’s not my fault for having faults, if this new thing isn’t perfect than everything is exactly as it is meant to be. But that does not absolve you of the onus to improve. We can be better. And it is absolutely amazing what you learn to love and enjoy and thrive in.

In my Land of the New Self it takes me a while to find the Mother Me. We have trouble recognizing each other. So much has changed. But I take her hand and hold it tight. You just get. You just get.


Molly said...

I love the mother you. I love you!

Little Terry said...

Dead on and beautiful.

Rachel said...

Thank you for writing your blog. Your writing is wonderful and heartbreaking.
I can relate, it is so nice to read. May I have permission to copy some of your posts to share with a couple of support groups that I run at the YMCA in Berkeley? My work address: