I recently watched the biopic Jackie about the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. What I hadn't realized before watching the film was that she had actually been the mother of five children, not two. She miscarried her first child, had a stillborn daughter her next pregnancy, went on to have Caroline and John, Jr., and then gave birth to a boy that only lived for two days. What's even more remarkable was that she lost her husband only three months after her son's death.
Some may wonder why she put herself through conceiving again and again after experiencing such loss. I believe this is the power and strength of the love that comes with being a mother. We lay our hearts out there (sometimes again and again) for our babies, despite knowing the pain that could come.
Loss aside, just the daily experience of motherhood in itself is a constant opportunity to practice vulnerability. I heard someone say years ago that once you have a child it’s like walking around with your heart outside your body, and that completely resonated with me. I have also lost a baby well into pregnancy and I said after that experience that, if having a child is like walking around with your heart outside your body, losing your child is like walking around completely inside out, every nerve raw & exposed. Of course it doesn't stay that way forever, but "getting over it" is never a part of healing. Healing, for me, is not forgetting, but remembering...remembering the bittersweetness of it all. Even with the emotional and physical pain of the loss, I am so thankful for the memories I have of those 17 weeks.
I once said that loving a child feels a little like entrapment: you're lulled into unabashedly loving this thing and then, bam! Something--a tragic piece of news, a bad injury or sickness--some kind of reminder of their (and your) vulnerability comes up and smacks you in the face. Something in your heart or maybe your head whispers uh-uh joy...not so fast and you remember their mortality.
You think Holy F**k, this feels like a setup--I'm wired to instinctively love this person more than life itself so, if I were to ever lose him (or her), I'd quite literally rather die than have that happen. Motherhood, in all it's glorious joy and uncomparable love, is a daily tug of war--a constant tension between overwhelming love and staggering fear of loss.
Whether you're already a mom, play the role of mom, are preparing to be a mom, or are deciding whether to gamble on the vulnerability of trying to be a mom again, know that, at least for this mom, that tug of war is normal and it never ends. Every day is a choice to surrender to the love or the fear and, each day that we choose to gamble on that brazen, bold kind of love, we are making the strongest, bravest choice--the choice to be vulnerable as a mother.
I'm Krissy & I'm so thankful you're here. Teacher-Mom life is rewarding but it's tough--we need fuel (& each other) to keep going. I hope this is a place you can go that feels like caffeine for the soul--uplifting & highly addictive ;) Check out the categories below and, if you like what you read, subscribe to make sure you always have good Sunday morning reading to go with your coffee :)