Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is he OK?

The day our son was born, my husband, Tripp, and I found ourselves overjoyed and enthusiastic about every aspect of caring for our sweet little one.  I worked on holding him against my skin to keep him warm, nursing him when he was hungry, and studying the perfect face I had spent months longing to see.

Our Family
Tripp became a fast expert with diapers, swaddling and cuddling.  Our first day with Wells was wonderful.  He was perfect and healthy.  We were exhausted but thrilled.  So when night came and we were ready to get some sleep, I fed the baby, and Tripp swaddled him tight and laid him in the little hospital "crib."  We'd wheeled it right up to my bed, just inches from where we both planned to sleep.  The lights were dim, the baby was sleeping peacefully.

Tripp climbed into bed, and with an enormous weight of concern and love in his voice that I will never forget, he asked, "Is he OK?"

Over the last eight months as I've watched him grow and pondered the future, I now know that "Is he OK?" is practically the mantra of being a parent.  So my question for meditation was, how do you know if your child is OK?  Whether it's a slight fever, a bad mood, a bully at school, a disappointment over not making a team, losses, disagreements, growing pains, apathy.  How do we know when and how to step in?

How do I know where my job as his parent is to interfere, or when he has his own lesson to learn?

Clearly, when the child's health or safety is at stake, we step in.  But things happen.  Kids fall and bump their heads and even worse.  When we see it coming in time, we stop it.  If we can't, we can't beat ourselves up about it.

And I think that's my lesson.  Things will happen to Wells, physical and emotional pains, and I won't be able to stop them.  He's going to have lessons to learn and I'll have to let him.  I'll have to find that balance between protection and detachment.

He's just a baby now, so there's not much he runs into that I can't help with.  Still, there are things he needs to learn.  He pulls himself to standing and can't get down and howls.  I help him, but I hesitate, hoping he'll try getting down on his own.

I think about the scene in the movie Ray, about the life of Ray Charles.  In the scene, he's a young boy who has recently lost his vision, and he's been feeling really sorry for himself.  He falls down and he lays there crying for someone to help him up.  His mother is there watching but she doesn't help him up.  The tears are running down her face.  But she knows he had to find his strength to get up on his own.  It's such a moving scene and it holds so much truth.

Yes, Wells is OK.  He's OK because he's here on this earth on his path, just where he is supposed to be.  At the same time, I am here on mine to mother him the best way I can, and to learn to love with detachment.

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