Posted by Lissa on July 27, 2010
Oh. My. God.
Mike and I are going about the business of building a life — figuring out if we’re going to move, doing our homework on buying our first house, joking about housebreaking dogs versus housebreaking children.
But we know that the fates don’t always give you what you want. Or what you expect.
I started this post being a little irked about the writer’s slightly caustic take on how, “Duh,” children don’t make you happier in life. She wrote, “If there’s an occupation more likely to make you feel incompetent and unrewarded than being a parent, I have never heard of it.”
That was apparently to lull me into a sense of complacency, so that the author could quietly approach and knock my bloody socks off.
Because she continues:
If you weren’t an academic, you might define happiness as the experience of being fully alive. To know grace, and despair, and the kind of hardness you have to learn to stand against; to watch your family fail you when you need them the most, and have your ex-husband look around, shrug his shoulders, and hold out his hand to help you up again.
Right. Your ex-husband, so that you can learn a bit of gratitude, just enough to appreciate him, which you didn’t manage the first time around.
These are things you’d never know if you hadn’t had your daughter. Things you wouldn’t have had to know, and learn the hard way, bitterly.
If the medical resident hadn’t sat down while you held your baby girl in the neonatal intensive care unit and said, “Your daughter’s brain is massively deformed.”
The daughter you loved even before she was born. When she was an abstraction, a positive sign on a pregnancy test, before she kicked you in the ribs, long before she ever drew her first breath. Love you did not know you were capable of feeling, primal and angry and powerful, you would kill ten men and Satan if you had to.
But the universe doesn’t ask that from you.
And the further I read, the more my eyes teared up and my throat got tight:
The sky has fallen down many times in your daughter’s short life, the sky with all the stars in it, and you have picked up the pieces more times than you can remember, and you have climbed the ladder and put them back in place, where you think they should go, and you get things in backwards and out of sequence, but you do the best you can, and you climb down off the ladder, and you’re at peace with your work. You wish it could be better, but there’s only one of you, and the sky is so vast, it takes a while to put it back together again, and you did the best you could.
And you just went through all that work, and here is the goddamned sky scattered all over the carpet again.
Go. Read. Thank the gods and goddesses for the grace in your life, and pray that you are strong enough, or will grow strong enough, to bear the adversity in your life.