My imagination can get the best of me. And it does. At night, after I've fed Leighton (for the third time that evening) I think. What if we find out something is wrong with her? What if she dives head first into the shallow end when she's six? What if someone kidnaps her? What if she drinks and drives? What if ... ?
So morbid. So awful. I know. But, it crosses my mind. I am a mother. I cannot help myself. How do I find peace?
I let go. One tiny piece at a time, I accept that which I cannot control.
I suppose you're wondering why I'm compelled to dwell on the heavier side of parenthood. It's a confluence of things. A friend's four year-old neice was diagnosed with a fatal and horrible disease. Another close friend faces uncertainty with her son's social and emotional future. My gorgeous and brilliant cousin died of cancer at fifteen after an eleven month battle.
Fuuuuck. It's too much. And, when I think about Leighton in the context of the foregoing, I can hardly breathe.
When I reach the "can hardly breathe" space, I have two choices. I can continue to obsess over the worst possible scenario and never let any of us leave the house or I can just let go.
Let go? It sounds so simple.
It isn't. And, it is.
I accept the death of all that I love, all that I live for, and I rest. It's a perpetual exercise of letting go, but it works. If I spend my time attempting to prevent kidnap and cancer (in the abstract, of course) and fretting over Lei getting her license fifteen years from now, I will certainly dilute the richness of her experience as my daughter and the corresponding joy I am sure to experience with her.
It blows my mind how tightly love and loss, and pain and learning go together so suspiciously, unexpectedly and perfectly. That's the rub of parenting - you love this little person so much it breaks your heart when they cry, or call you mama, or cut a tooth or fall down or ... worse. Or, you burst into tears just watching them sleep.
We are responsible for our children and control their fate to some degree. We take the calculated daily risks (getting in the car, for example) and wait until the wee hours for panic to swell. But when the sun rises and we see the smiling faces, we put our fears aside and embrace the bravery, confidence and silliness our kids have come to expect from us.
If and when our little clan is forced to face the unexpected turns of fate, we will rise to the occasion and dedicate every breath we have to getting through it and making it work for us. This bond of love, strength and confidence is what gets me through the night.
Time for bed ...