MY dear friend Davina sent me a book prior to Wilder's birth, and I've treasured it so much. It's been a big help; the chapters are comforting, especially when the baby thing is so novel and overwhelming. It's titled The Mother's Book of Well-Being: Caring for Yourself So You Can Care for Your Baby, by Lisa Groen Braner. It's split into weeks for your child's first year of life--so they're short and quick!
I just have to share Week 31. Ms. Braner puts the unexplainable into words, and I love it.
So settle in for a read. It's worth it.
"I've become freer since having a baby. I may not get to the movies or linger in conversation with girlfriends as much, but I have tasted a freedom that was foreign to me before having children. It didn't come without a price, mind you, but freedom rarely does. I've learned to abandon my ego and surrender it to two little people who need me more. I wish I could say that I had a hand in this accomplishment, but in fact, it's impossible not to surrender that part of us when caring for a baby. Who can be self-absorbed with a baby in their care? The responsibility always takes you away from yourself, gets you out of your skin. The physical demands preclude our egocentric predilections during the day. There's little time to be preoccupied with oneself when a baby's life requires so much attention and maintenance. Personally, I have very little time to obsess over my relationships, career, or appearance. Having a baby streamlines old anxieties, simplifies what's important, and discards the rest.
What a relief! Does anyone else feel this way? Perhaps it's a secret benefit to motherhood, silently celebrated in the cloistered emotional lives of mothers. I don't have to be eternally eighteen, wear a size 2, make a million dollars, or solve the world's most pressing problems. I still find these things appealing, but really, life is easier when you just live it instead of wishing it were different.
I am content gazing into the eyes of my children. I love them unconditionally, a quality of acceptance I've seldom granted myself. The idea that they might be better in the future or more acceptable when they achieve something is absurd to me. I love them wholeheartedly as they are now, as they'll be next week and next year. Oh sure, I'd like my son to eat at least one vegetable on the planet, and I'd like my daughter to stop standing in grocery carts. But these are the details that curve and twist the branch of our family tree. After all, we are simply who we are.
The ego tells us who we "should" be. It's the voice that asks us to betray our real self, to defy what's authentic for us. It's the antithesis of reason, the worry that keeps us up at night. The ego teases with promises of happiness if we could only be something different from what we are.
My children have shown me that the more engaged in life I am--body, mind, and soul--the happier I am. I have less time to listen to that voice of unreason, its judgmental whisperings. We love our children easily for who they are, and maybe along this road we will find that same comforting affection for ourselves."
It's that last little bit that gets me. Yeah, that part in bold.
And I'm trying.
p.s.--I just had to put that yummy picture of Wilder up; he was so little then...