The other night I was nursing C before bedtime and as I held him close in the dark, rocking in the chair my mother used when I was an infant, I grabbed his wee hand and happened to glance down at it. I saw my hand in miniature, right down to the crooked pinky. And I started to quietly weep.
Motherhood has changed me faster and more profoundly than anything else. During the fall after T was born the mortality of everyone close to me suddenly became real for the first time in my life. Which is ridiculous. Everyone dies, this is not some big shocker. Before I held my sons in my arms I didn’t really believe in my own death. Or Z’s. Or my parents’. I still can’t bring myself to contemplate my boys’ mortality even though I know they can’t live forever either.
My hopes for my sons-health, happiness, prosperity, love-are mundane, but they feel precarious. What if I die and they are raised without a mother? What if they don’t get to grow up knowing the wonderful people that are their grandparents? So many terrible things can happen in this world, and I know some of those things will happen to them. I know I won’t be able to protect them.
One evening before I became a Mom a couple we know told us that they realized if there was a house fire and they could only save one person they’d save their daughter over each other. It seemed terrible to me. I couldn’t understand how the love of any family member would outrank another. I decided it was monstrous to make that choice.
As I was rocking C the other night and weeping and considering his hand which was my hand I remembered that evening and I realized how wrong I was. It wasn’t monstrous at all. If a fire happened I would choose the boys over us without hesitation. Which isn’t actually choosing them over us at all. Because they are us. By choosing them I would be choosing all of us.
I’m grateful motherhood has changed me. Don’t get me wrong, there is still so much more that could be improved when it comes to who I am. I hope I can continue to realize it when I am mistaken and I hope I can admit it to myself and others. And strangely I’m glad that the specter of death is real to me now. It makes me appreciate the time I have with my family. It reminds me to get my ass in gear and live life.
This parenthood trip is a mindfuck.