Friday, August 5, 2011

What I Wish I Had Known

I was sitting around the other night, listening to the frenzied song of crickets and cicadas out in the steamy evening, thinking about babies and feeling melancholy.

This is not quite the way it may sound.

I wasn't exactly longing for my own baby. Dan and I always thought we'd be done with two, although I'd felt I'd be happy with "two or three." While I love babies and would certainly (after recovering from the shock and adjusting to the idea) welcome a surprise baby, I am for the most part glad to be done with that phase of our lives.

No, this was something different.

I was imagining what it would be like to be pregnant again, without the fear. No, that's not right either. No mother or expectant mother lives without some measure of fear. I guess what I mean is I was wondering what it would be like to be pregnant without the illusion of control.

We parents like to think we're in control, don't we? That's what those parenting magazines are all about. Eat this, not that. Purchase this kind of car seat. Don't use this type of playground equipment. Do everything right to ensure the best possible chance that everything will be just fine.

I'm not against safety, healthy eating, and common sense. I believe in being responsible and teaching my kids to care for themselves in a responsible way. But I no longer believe in formulas. I no longer am ruled by the rules, because sometimes the rules really are just ways we buffer ourselves from the truth that anything can happen, and sometimes it does, despite our best efforts.

When I was pregnant with Ethan, I had so much fear. I look back now and am not sure why. Did I intuitively sense something; was I trying to prepare myself subconsciously? I don't know, but I felt sick with worry sometimes; plagued by worry. There were times I thought if I just prayed enough and believed enough, everything would be okay. I still wasn't trusting God. I was trusting that my "good luck charm" form of faith would chase off all the bad things. So I fretted. I worried. I prayed. I fretted. I worried. I tried to believe. I fretted. I worried.

And all of it, the whole mess of it, got me absolutely nowhere. I used to think I should expect the worst so I wouldn't be disappointed. Now I know expecting the worst is incredibly draining and doesn't make you feel any better if the worst actually happens. In fact, in my case I felt rather foolish. My worry did nothing except gnaw away at me each day. Why not expect the best...and if that doesn't happen, expect the best out of whatever situation is handed me?

What I was thinking, the other night as I mused, was what it would be like to go back with what I know now. I would do my best to do the right things but not torture myself if I ate deli meat or sipped part of a Diet Coke. I'd enjoy the process without fretting so much about how to influence the outcome. I'd live each day of my pregnancy a little freer and lighter just because I'd know that I didn't have control of every nuance of my life and never would. No one does. I would live rather than live in torment.

We can't dance with our arms wrapped around us. We have to open our clenched fists and let go of everything we thought was ours.

As I was falling asleep thinking about all of this I realized I will most likely never have that chance to be a different kind of expectant mom. But that doesn't mean I can't take all that I've learned and apply it to the rest of my life. Instead of wondering what might have been, I can remind myself this is a lesson that I can live out again and again and again.

I am not in control. And that's okay. As Beth Moore once said: "It's only a wild ride if someone else is driving." We can pry our hands from the wheel. We can ease up our arms on the roller coaster. And we learn it's the wild rides that we most remember, that thrill us, that define us, in the end.


Anonymous said...

i enjoyed every word of this. so well written. so powerful and true. so many of us mamas are control freaks - it's in our wiring. what a sweet relief to finally come to the end of ourselves and fall on the One who is really in control and knows better than us.

i have a feeling i will refer back to this post time and time again.

Floortime Lite Mama said...

I so know exactly what you mean
Glad I found your blog through your comment
I am now following along