I don’t know what it is, but when I became a mom, something changed.
Well, duh! Lots of things changed. My body, my social life, my priorities…but that’s not what I mean.
My ability to mentally and emotionally handle certain things has changed. In some ways, I’m stronger. Like when my grandpa passed, I didn’t fall apart like I always thought I would. I couldn’t. I had a baby that needed to be fed, changed, and cuddled. I couldn’t lay in bed for days and cry. I had to learn to compartmentalize my grief, only letting it show when the baby was asleep or being held by someone while I took a shower. I’m sure there are ramifications for dealing with it this way – like prolonged grieving, especially since I almost forget he’s gone sometimes. I’ll start to miss him and then I’ll remember. But I’m usually good at keeping myself busy and focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, so I don’t let myself completely break down.
But then again, I think becoming a mother has made me weaker. No one ever likes to hear about sick or abused children, or babies dying, but I feel like I used to be able to turn away from it easily. I would think, “It’s the news. Terrible things happen. That’s the world we live in and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
But now. Now I watch the news and I’m heartbroken. A mother kills her own children before shooting herself, one of them a 22 month old baby. A BABY. Justin Bieber’s mom was molested starting at 4 years old. A FOUR YEAR OLD. What sick fuck would ever harm a child? And I dwell on these things for a very long time, thinking that if anyone ever hurt my child, I would surely spend the rest of my life in prison for murder. Tortuous murder too. A bullet to the head would be too kind.
And then there are the stories that have no human evil to blame. Like the story that had me bawling today about little 4 year old Ronan Thompson who died from cancer. And Taylor Swift wrote a song about him, using his mom’s words from her blog. And I just…I lose it. I feel for that mom and her feelings of helplessness. I imagine my baby being so sick, and not being able to do anything to help him. And it’s the worst feeling I could possibly imagine. A parent should never have to bury their child and yet it happens all the time. And while that’s always been a sad reality of life, it bothers me so much more now that I’m a mom. It makes me fearful of the future. I know I can’t protect him from everything forever and ever, and it’s that feeling of having no control that drives me bonkers. In my eyes, he’s the most precious thing to ever exist in the history of the universe, and to have that thing be so tiny, and fragile and mortal makes me fear everything. And every story about something bad happening to their own most precious thing makes my heart so very heavy.
So I do the only thing I know how to do. I cry. And then I donate money. And then I go home and cuddle my baby until he gets annoyed. But I have to do more. I just don’t know what “more” is yet.