Sunday, March 10, 2013

On Fear and Parenthood

This new season, onset four years ago by insistent pink plus signs on successive, confounded pregnancy tests, brings fear, so much fear. And a roaring courage.
I knew there was an irreversible clause in the choice to be a family. But the far-off places I'd wondered for myself were a painful, sudden loss in the intimate, nine-month fascination of new life growing inside me. 

I wondered if his new life would snuff out the little life I'd made for myself. Magazines and websites echoed warring cries of motherhood: the martyrs who can't clean up one mess before another explodes versus the entrepreneurs who use maternity leave as a launchpad for their successful new businesses. I didn't really want to be either.

Even now, with my sweet dreams of motherhood broken in by vomit and incessant neediness, fears of more vomit and more neediness are slowly allayed by quiet lullabies, whispered affections -- "I love you, Mama" -- encircled arms where everyone is safe. 

Floating back to the surface are new dreams on old themes, nearly forgotten. Trolling through endless sleepless days of babies has been good for them. They're clearer, more hopeful, more daring, than the guarded ambitions of a woman unfettered by love, family, Sacraments.

The lovely reflection of a composed, confident woman I'd labored to create over a lifetime of 29 short years, shattered unexpectedly in the labor proclamations of a new baby. And the mirror's yet to bring back that shiny, wise woman with her box of every answer and one-size-fits-all God.

It turns out my Savior isn't an XXL tee that "fits all," but gets sorted to the Goodwill pile without any use. He refuses escape to lofty heavens and wishing wells, insisting instead to come calmly beside me in the storm. And me, too simple, too naive, to stay safely onboard, I hold his gaze and step out

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