Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learning to read his book

Thirteen years ago today, my life changed for ever.
That day I became a mother.
My passage into motherhood was preceded by a complicated pregnancy- like a storm brewing- which came to a thunderhead with a traumatic cesarean birth. In the aftermath, a nasty infection, eight weeks of breastfeeding nightmares, and 17 months of severe post partum depression left me wondering who I had become and where “me” had disappeared to. I was like a news clip of post-hurricane desolation. My walls of preparation were toppled, my windows of confidence shattered, and my heart was buried in the rubble of confusion and insecurity.

Could this really be motherhood?
But this birth, this child, has taught me more in thirteen years than I learned in all my years of school and college. No single event in my life has recreated me in the way his birth and life have. Because of this boy, and the way that he came, because I was dismantled that day, I was compelled to pull out of the debris only that which I could rebuild with. I began with examining the weaknesses in my belief system that had led me to allow others to think for me. I challenged every beam and plank to see if it would really be strong enough to hold the weight of future trials. I examined every crack in my thinking and every chink in my spirit.

Now, this is not to say that the structure I have rebuilt is invulnerable, but I would call it retro-fitted, for sure. This little boy came with a whole lot of qualities that have challenged every parenting idea that I thought I ever had. He has refined my patience with the fire of his persistence. His quirks have been the knife that let me cut my way out of the proverbial box so that I could think outside of it. His intensity has taught me that it can only be met with firm and steady love. His mouth has echoed back to me every word I wish I’d never uttered, and his face has reflected back every expression of frustration and disappointment I should have tried harder to hide. He has hardened my weakness and softened my pride. Each day he both baffles and amazes me.

We didn’t really celebrate his birthday today. He wanted to wait until his little brother got back from camp. He woke to the traditional sugar-and-forbidden-food-coloring-laden breakfast cereal, and I still took goodies to school for his class. We made homemade ice cream and he talked us into giving him one of his presents, but it wasn’t a typical birthday. Then again, this is not a typical boy.
All day I have been reviewing his life and all that has grown in my heart since those stormy days 13 years ago. I can’t believe he is officially a teenager. Worse yet, I can’t believe I am the mom of a teenager.

Tonight I thumbed through his baby book, reading the passages scratched there by a woman I hardly remember being. I had taken Lamaze, and read “What to Expect”, but no book could have been written that would have prepared me to expect what this child would bring into my life. He came with only the instruction book written in his little heart, and I have spent these years learning how to read it.

Ethan enjoying his new pull-up bar.

Post script: I need to say here that though breastfeeding was an extreme challenge, after 8 weeks Ethan figured out how to feed, and happily nursed for about 15 more months. The struggles of that time gave me so much empathy for mamas who have difficulty, and banished my judgement of women who decide not to because of how hard it can be.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Happy Late Birthday Ethan!!!!! Without his birth, we would not have our fearless Ican leader, and understanding friend!!! Praise God for taking us through trials, showing us His strength through them, and how He can use our spirit breaking moments and turn them into more than we could ever imagine!