June 28, 2010

Joy and pain

Note: I had this post written and scheduled for today when I came across an announcement from Theta Mom about her blogoversary contest. So I decided this post would be my official entry. I am a proud Theta Mom and I support The Mission

          There were a lot of things about motherhood I did not anticipate. One element that continues to take me by surprise is the way I am affected by the pain and suffering of children and parents I don't know. Now that my heart understands, I find myself torn to pieces by the stories of strangers. 
         I don't mean to imply I never cared about such things before. I do have a heart. But until I became a parent myself, I couldn't truly comprehend the strength of emotions involved. Now that I can, I would prefer not to. I know the world is full of evil and misfortune and that bad things happen to good people. I just wish I was blissfully unaware.
         TV shows and movies that depict violence against children or terribly sad events involving children? Absolutely not! The evening news? Can't stand to watch it. It seems there is always a story about a child having been abducted or killed. Or a profile of a child fighting for life against a terrible disease. 
          Just the other day I stumbled upon the story of Ellie, a little girl who recently lost her fight with cancer. And I found myself sitting in front of my computer sobbing. It broke my heart. To think of her parents. Her twin sister. All the people whose lives she had touched. I felt that pain as if it were my own. And I was completely undone. I could not stop crying.
          When I was pregnant, I knew I would become the mom of a daughter. I prepared the best I could for that (and I wasn't nearly prepared enough, but that is a post for a different day I think). I did not realize I was joining a community of moms. That I would be intensely and inexplicably tied to all moms and therefore share in their joy and pain.
          The truth is, we are bound together simply by the act of becoming a mom. The bond that ties us together enables us to experience the collective joy and pain of motherhood. There are some wonderful aspects to this connectedness. I am getting to know lots of incredible women. Most of whom I have never met, but consider to be friends. We support each other, commiserate with one another, laugh together. We share our joys. That part is easy. 
          But sometimes motherhood involves unimaginable pain. And as a community, we share in that, too. Even when we don't personally know someone, and can't do anything to help, we feel for each other. And when we have the ability to help, to support, to connect, we must. It's a tall order, but after growing a life inside us and bringing it into the world, we know we've got what it takes. Moms truly are amazing.


  1. So true, I feel like a mother to the children of the world. My heart yearns to help them all. When parents are in times of crisis, my heart breaks for them as well. Motherhood has allowed me to feel emotions I never knew on a deep and profound level.

  2. I agree. My community has signs and billboards up for Kyron Horman and just seeing them sets off my tears again. When I was pregnant with my first child, a student told me he thought that being a mom would make me a better teacher - he was right. Mothering your own makes your heart more loving to everyone's babies. (IMO)
    Thanks for another great post!

  3. Oh this post brought tears to my eyes! I find myself nodding to every single words you wrote...I too feels more 'connected' with other parents when it comes to feeling their pains and seeing a child suffering really really broke my heart. I saw Ellie's story on twitter a couple of days ago and like you I sobbed silently reading the website her Mom had beautifully written. This is a truly beautiful piece, thanks for sharing!

  4. Love when you said, "The truth is, we are bound together simply by the act of becoming a mom. The bond that ties us together enables us to experience the collective joy and pain of motherhood...But sometimes motherhood involves unimaginable pain. And as a community, we share in that, too." <----Absolutely the reasons I love my blog so much. Spot on mama and thanks for sharing!

  5. @ Lori - I know exactly what you mean. But we can't help them all, which I find so hard to accept. I guess we have to be satisfied to make as much of a positive impact as we can, starting in our own homes!

    @ Kristina - I think every community has stories that move us. Here in Jax, it was most recently the Sommer Thomson case. Horrific crime, but it brought the entire city together. We all experienced it.

    @ Maureen -Ellie's mom is amazing! The grace and strength and faith she demonstrated during that painful ordeal is unbelievable. I admire her more than words can express.

    @ Theta Mom - Thank you for your kind words, and for stopping by my little blog. ;) We are all connected, and I continue to be amazed by it. Each day I "meet" a new mom and she brings value to my life. It's truly awesome!

  6. I have always been an emotional person, someone who cries at the drop of a pin. After the birth of my children, like you, that has been compounded. I feel things even more acutely than I did before. I relate everything back to my children. Sometimes it makes living hard, to feel so intensely. But the joy that comes with it makes up for it. We are lucky women to feel so intensely. It truly is a gift, one that we have to share.

  7. I have always had a tender heart, but now that I'm a mother, multiply those by about 10 million. I was nodding along with everything in your post. But even with the heartaches, like you, I'm thankful to be in a community of moms.

  8. @ Christine - That is a great way to look at it. I do know people who are emotionally closed off and feel nothing. I'd rather be the way I am any day.

    @ Stacey - I think it is always nice to be part of something greater than ourselves.

  9. what an amazing post and it so (so) resonates with me! as a former teacher i always had compassion for children, moms, families. but as a mom-- wowsers! your pain is my pain, end of story. i don't think it's *exactly* the same for our wonderful other halves. that mama-to-child-to-mama bond is...intoxicating, isn't it?

    this was a beautiful post and i'm so-very-glad that i read it. i found you through mommybloggers, and i'm glad about that, too! :)

  10. So true! I can hear a child cry in a public place and immediately feel a stab of fear (thinking they might be hurt), followed by an overwhelming need to console them. We are a motherhood community.

    Love your children every minute of each day.

  11. I had my first son when I was still in college and my friends couldn't understand why I no longer wanted to see horror movies that featured kids or why I had a hard time with dramas or even stupid little commercials. Yes, I think becoming a mom changes the world or at least our perspective. Beautiful post.

  12. @ Minnesota Mamaleh - Welcome! I'm so glad you found me, too. :) Thank you for your kind words. Hope you'll come back often and contribute to the discussion.

    @ Jennifer - We do jump at cries, don't we? We recognize our own child's cry above all others, but any cry causes a mom to react.

    @ Koreen - I'm sure it was hard for your peers to understand at that age. They couldn't share your perspective at the time, but I'm would imagine by now many of them understand. ;)

  13. One hears so much about mommy-brain - the forgetfulness that attends raising small children. I like to think that the memory losses are more than accounted for in the expansiveness of the Mommy-heart. Just like the grinch whose heart grew 3 sizes that day he tried to steal the who's christmas, a parent's heart grows three sizes every day. Parenting mandates putting your future - your center - out into the world. And praying the entire time that the trust is warrented, that other peope out there in the world care, too. As parents we do care - about our kids, the neighbor's kids, any kids - regardless of biology. Because what other choice is there?

  14. @ Anon - Very well said! It can be scary to entrust strangers with your children, though, can't it?

  15. Thank you for this post. It is so true. I have a public policy degree and cannot stand to watch the news anymore either. It is too sad, too hopeless. Thank you for speaking for all of us. You have a beautiful site...

    Sincerely yours,
    Sarah Baron

  16. @ Sarah - Thank you so much for stopping by! I wish the world could be a different place. And it scares me sometimes to think of my daughter growing up in the midst of it. But all we can do is love them and hold them close and prepare them to go out into that world...


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