Sunday, November 27, 2011

Humility


There will be no greater lesson in humility than watching your firstborn venture out into the world, and having to accept that anything that you may have thought to tell him or teach him, but haven't yet... is simply too late. I want to spin like Columbo and raise a finger and say, "Uh... just one more thing." There will always be just one more thing.

There will be no greater reminder of your powerlessness than when when you are watching your firstborn venture out into the world doing exactly what you told him not to do, and no greater curiosity than when he gets by anyway... because maybe he is smarter. Maybe things have changed since you were that age. Perhaps someone or something greater than yourself is the one watching out for him and just maybe it's been that way all along. Someone or something has had him in their/its care to protect him from you?

There will be no greater sense of hopelessness and futility than when living with your firstborn seems an impossibility and you battle with them on their way out the door and they swear to never talk to you again. No greater fear than the possibility that their proclamation will become reality. No greater relief than when it doesn't, but then you have the new fear that the fighting will start all over again, so you tiptoe around each other, like thieves sneaking past a sleeping guard dog.

I wonder sometimes if any parent is exempted from this, and I watch other families closer to see if it's just me, and mine. I take wicked pleasure when I see a crack in the veneer of perfection and happiness, and then feel guilt. It's not like I truly take pleasure in the strife and hardship of another, though I really sort of do. Or relief that it's not just me. I am wildly envious of others until I discover that they are also going through it. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's there.

There may come a time when you are going through photos of those first weeks with your newborn and wondering what you could have done differently and you simply must accept that there is no going back. It's probably important also that you accept the possibility that the outcome isn't the wrong one, even if it isn't what you had envisioned.

There are days when acceptance seems not so much like letting go, but like lifting an impossibly heavy stone. This is not necessarily one of those days. It is rather one of those in-between days when I can't tell if the weight is in my hands or on the ground before me. When I don't know whether to stoop to lift it or to walk away and not look back.