Friday, April 19, 2013

the tragedy of motherhood

God, I wanted to end this week on some other note, but what a week it has been.  Terrible in so many ways, it is also the kind of week which reminds me of how changed I really am since becoming a mother.  How I will forever see the faces on the news of people who were killed, injured, or lost, all of those faces are the faces of children, now, in my eyes.  It doesn't matter their age.  It doesn't matter if they are older than me.  It doesn't matter if they are the cause of the trouble.  My mother's heart aches for them all.

And it goes without saying that it also reminds me acutely of the one inescapable tragedy which arrives with every child:  that we can try as hard as we can, cover as many fronts as possible, but it is absolutely impossible to protect that child completely.  The saying goes that motherhood is like having your heart walk around outside of your body every day.  I just don't think that covers it.  Maybe if you said it was like having your heart walk around outside of your body ALL the time in a tall corn maze full of land mines and quicksand and predators, and you cannot convince your heart that this maze is anything more or less than a carnival romp - and even then I don't think that covers it.  Because I don't care about my own heart half so much as I care for my daughters.

I took the blurry photo above on Lena's first school bus ride on her first Kindergarten field trip last month.  To my surprise, it was her choice to sit with me on the bus instead of sitting with her friends, and on both legs of the trip, too.  And she chattered on about everything she saw outside her window.  And she held my hand.  And she just radiated happiness.  Being with her on that bus made me crazy happy, too, but still I worried - worried that there were no seat belts on the bus, that I didn't know the driver, that Los Angeles drivers are crraaaaazy and, as usual, I had no control over them - there was no real way to protect my daughter.  All I could do was sit by her, listen to her, and simply hold her hand.

Maybe that sums up my job pretty well, though.

Always, always, always, I will do my best to protect my daughters.  The hardest truth I will ever accept, though, is that it's possible I won't always succeed.  But always, always, always, just like my own mother, I WILL be available to sit with them, or listen to them, or hold their hands.  For the rest of my life, and if I have anything to say about it, even after that.

The rest is left to grace.

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