Monday, November 16, 2009
One of the things I was always told was that my love would be different. Of the things that I was told would change when I had my own child, this is the one that left me the most puzzled. Many of you know I was a nanny for at least five years full time, but still consider myself one today as Cassandra and Nicholas will always be "my children". When I would tell people that I loved Cass and Nick so much, many times the response was like everything else, "wait til you have your OWN kids." Of course, as is always the case with this response, I am left speechless. How does one argue with that when one doesn't have children? I wondered about how people who had adopted children would have felt had they heard this statement. I wondered how I could possibly worry or feel anything deeper than what I was feeling for them? I wondered if the nightmares I had about them getting hurt would be even more scary after having my own child.
This was one area that did not make me upset, but instead more curious, was it possible to have an even greater love than I did.
But were they right.... yes and no.
Elijah is my life, along with my husband, he is everything to me. Do I love him more than Cass and Nick? I can honestly say I don't. He occupies his own space in my heart, one I never knew was there, one I never knew so desparately needed to be filled, but it is his own place and it is not comparable to the space Cassandra holds, or Nicholas, or my husband for that matter.
But Elijah has given me something I have never felt before. I am not exaclty sure how I explain it. Sometimes it is not all that pleasant, but mostly it is what gives me a purpose. It is a feeling deep down in my gut, to the core of who I am as a person. It is where all my worry comes from, where all my attentiveness originates. I know for certain it will NEVER go away. No matter where Elijah is on this Earth, that feeling will go with him. One of these wise mothers once told me, "Having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body." Absolutely!
Now instead of worrying about Cass and Nick when certain events spur it or once in a while, I now worry all the time. It is a constant feeling of being on guard, being mama bear. Now instead of having nightmares, I have them during the day, very vivid visions of what could happen to Elijah in each moment.
When he is asleep at night, I am constantly listening through a baby monitor for the sounds of our windows being opened and rarely does an hour go by that I don't check his breathing.
The other day, we walked past a dog, something I have done many times with children in my life. I used to always have the children ask the owner before approaching the animal to make sure the animal was safe, but this time I had a vision of Elijah's foot being bitten off by this dog. I am not kidding, these visions haunt me. I am cautious every minute of my day, some people might even say paranoid. And it is not just a thought about what could happen, but a literal video playing before my eyes.
So the intensity is different and I think it comes from the responsibility that comes with having your own child. I love Cass and Nick with my whole heart, being away from them makes me physically ill, and thinking they may be sad makes me want to fix it immediately, but like all the children in my life before Elijah, they have their own parents. Parents whose job it is to take care of them when I am not there and whether or not I have liked this in the past, whose influence will ultimatley matter more than mine.
That is not the case with Elijah, other than his father, I will have the single most important role in his young life. His safety, health, happiness, and the person he becomes is shaped by me more than any other person.
What an awesome and awe inspiring thing that is.
Is that the same as loving more... maybe.