Saturday, 6 August 2011

The unspeakable side of being a parent.

I was in the middle of talking to husband the other day when the baby let out a big cry. She was asleep in the garden in her pram, but something woke her up. I stopped talking mid-sentence and ran outside, jumping over the steps like a gazelle. Considering just how huge I am at the moment that was probably quite a shocking sight.

‘What were you saying? ‘Husband demanded, walking out in the garden after me. ‘You were in the middle of the conversation and you just ran out!’ But what he must try to understand is that....well, how do I put it so it is not too disrespectful...and so that it would not make me sound like a very primitive creature? I guess there is no other way to put it. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing else matters to me when my baby is crying. In fact, to be honest, not much matters to me at the moment. I know there are important events happening in the world. I know about the News of the World, Murdoch, the way the mayor of Vilnius tackles illegal parking, some Norwegian nutter killing young and strong people (who, for some reason, did not attempt to overpower him?)...Or Norwegian bears killing British explorers (what the hell is going on in Norway at the moment???!), the US debt palaver...AAA or AA+ or whatever...But honestly? None of it matters to me, as all I can focus on right now is this little baby, her needs and desires.

Being a mother changes you. You never know how it might affect you personally, until it happens. You may think it would not, or you might think you would remain as cool, as passionate at work, or as dedicated to whatever else in your life you had been dedicated to. (or as slim...) But then, this little baby comes into the world, and you are a different person.

Something unspeakably awful happened to a friend of mine. Her little niece went for a nap and never woke up. I keep thinking about this, over and over. Because all parents, and mothers in particular, become absolutely paranoid of something like that happening. When I first time heard of this tragedy, I thought to myself Oh, f**k. This is the worst that can happen to a parent.

But then I remembered a reader on this blog, whose child died from a disease the parents knew had no cure. Which is harder, not to know it might happen, or to know in advance?

I was thinking of various horrible accidents that we all read or hear about involving children. Every day there is something in the news. A 3-year old girl fell of the balcony in Singapore ... And Amy Winehouse?... At what age is it okay for a child to die? Is it any easier for Amy’s parents to cope with her death, because she was older and on drugs? The first thing I thought when I heard about her death on the news was 'oh, no...her poor parents!' There is no easier way, or age, for it to happen. Because it is not fair, not right, not the way it is meant to be. Never, ever should a child die before the parent.

So yes...Once you become a mother, you are no longer the person you used to be. All of us, parents, have this one thing in common. Hidden deep inside, indescribable in words, underneath all the daily routine, sleepless nights, happiness and smiles, lies this worry and vulnerability, which is there to stay...well, I guess, forever. Because I know, looking at my children, that I will always worry about them, whether they are babies, or young women dating, marrying, giving birth or travelling abroad....

I was breastfeeding my baby this morning when I heard of that boy getting mauled by a polar bear up in Svalbard. Now, you listen to me! I told her. When you come to me one day and say ‘mummy, I am going on an expedition to see polar bears!’ I will lie in that doorway and you would have to kill me before you go. But of course, I was not being serious. Of course, I know that we cannot protect them from living their lives. We can just do our best to raise them as safe and as healthy as possible, and hope (or pray- whichever works for you) that, whatever happens to us in this life, we will go before they do. That is not too much to ask for, is it. The most natural circle of life.

12 comments:

  1. I couldn't prevent tears falling from my eyes while reading your poat. My brother lost his battle to cancer on New Year's Eve 2002. I can tell you part of my mom died with him. A very huge part of her. So no, it's no natural for parents to bury their children, never: not newborns, not at 4, not at 27, not at 36.
    On the other hand, even though it may be natural for children to bury their parents, I buried my dad at 8. I don't think that's too natural either.

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  2. "Which is harder, not to know it might happen, or to know in advance?"

    It's worse to only know it might happen. Knowing in advance that it will happen allows you to make the most of matters and say goodbye. Mostly when little one perished I felt happiness and relief that his suffering was over, although admittedly it gradually it got worse after that as I started to miss him.

    There's definitely no shame in being afraid of SIDS - a parent wouldn't have any of that. The lesson is simply to make every moment count!

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  3. the most moving post ever. hope all children will outlive their parents

    limerent

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  4. You're great, Scary. This made me laugh like a mad woman: 'ran outside, jumping over the steps like a gazelle' LOL
    I don't have children of my own yet but have many nieces and nephews who I worry about all of the time. Of course this is not the same as worrying about one's own children nevertheless it makes my heart pound to hear bad things happening to children. At such instances I can't help imagining those things happening to my loved ones. And imagining how devastated their parents would feel. No, I don't want to think about it.

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  5. "There's definitely no shame in being afraid of SIDS - a parent wouldn't have any * of that."

    *warning

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  6. It helps hearing the same exact thoughts from another parent. When I first took my 3-month old son to daycare, I was worried sick about SIDS, etc. And the teacher (herself a mother of a young kid) smiled and said, "Don't we all just want to put our babies in this big protective bubble to make sure nothing wrong ever happens to them."

    And then again, there are bad parents who knowingly hurt their children in many different ways... I always think how unfair life has been to kids born into those kinds of families.

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  7. @Gabriela: I am sorry this made you think about those sad moments again..and yes, of course a huge part of your mother must have died with her son. But another part must have remained- for you. Maybe having you is what helped her cope then.

    @Mark: You know I was talking about you..

    @Matanat: Thanks. Glad some of it made you laugh. :-)

    @Marianna: It is so scary to be leaving them with someone else, too! and a 3 months old...is soooo young! :-(

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  8. Please, don't be sorry. Those memories are part of my life and it's normal to be sad from time to time.

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  9. Thank you for voicing scary, paranoid, dark thoughts and fears mothers live with - but don't talk about often. I don't because it is too scary to voice them - but we all have them. Thus, the getting up middle of the night to check for rising chest, and worrying if the naps are a little too long and being always paranoid no matter what. I first thought it was first time parenting thing - but 5 years after baby 1 I am doing the same with my youngest!!!!

    By the way, she is absolutely adorable!!! :-)

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  10. @Jale: So our kids have the same age gap..Thanks for the compliment! she is very cute, indeed. :-) I could just eat her, honestly.

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  11. I understand you perfectly well! my son is 2 years old, and I am ready to die if someone hurts him.

    Your baby is very cute :)

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  12. Thanks, Nika.

    If someone hurts my children, I would be,first of all, ready to rip their heads off and shove them up their backsides. :)

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