Tuesday, October 22, 2013
And then I listened to my heart...
Yesterday's discovery -- that the newest addition to our family would be a boy -- completely turned my world upside down.
Well, that's what it felt like. Even though nothing had really changed.
The family and friends with whom I shared the news were excited, celebratory, for so many reasons. The first boy for my family. A "complete set". Gal pals who are very close to their brothers and anticipated the same for my little 'un. Wise counsel that, whatever we have, will be perfect for our family.
But, the truth is, I felt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me.
My first response was: I don't know anything about boys.
And it's funny. When I was pregnant the first time, I actually hoped it would be a boy. I had met so many sweet young lads (mainly school age, through my work) and was so smitten by their geeky earnestness. I'd heard that boys really loved their mamas. And were less emotionally complicated than girls. And I liked the idea of something new and different for our family. (I only have one sibling: a sister. I do have a male cousin but he lives overseas, and while I'm fond of him, we're not close.)
Then we learnt we were having a girl and I found myself just as happy. And she was, indeed, the perfect girl for our family. I can't imagine life without her.
Today, I have been curious about the mildly anxious deflation I feel. I know for certain that I will love this baby no matter what, and that I will have more than enough love for both of my children. So that's not it, although I know that this can feel like a legitimate concern for many mums-to-be.
I also know that the stereotypes of boys being more physical, less articulate, less emotionally complicated, more mum needy/dad worshipping are just that: stereotypes. Certainly, I've seen some of these aspects at play in the boys I've met through mothers group and kindergarten, but I've also witnessed much greater nuance in their relationships and behaviours. I've also seen some of these qualities evident in little girls.
I'm also privileged to have many male friends who represent a modern masculinity that is loving, cerebral, cultured and genuinely respectful of women. I know my little lad with have some wonderful role models, starting with his sweet Daddy.
And I absolutely know it's true: that this little lad has chosen me and our family for a reason. And he will be the perfect addition to out family.
So, as I waded through the tumult of scary feelings I saw that what I was really left with was... me.
Me and my not-enough triggers.
I don't know anything about boys. I won't be able to handle it if he's too physical, too destructive, too different from my experience with my daughter. I'll feel so sad if he and my daughter don't bond because of the age gap and the gender difference. This is going to be hard. I'm going to suck at this. And this poor little lad is going to suffer because of my shortcomings.
I could feel my anxieties rise and my despair growing.
For the first time, I missed my therapist.
And then I remembered something. On Sunday, I spent an hour with the sweetest, wisest soul, developing daily practices for heart, mind, body and soul care. And I remembered, one of the practices I had committed to was to sit and listen to my heart. Somehow, I knew, my heart would know the answer.
So I sat. And I listened.
And I asked my heart: what do you need?
She answered: QUIET.
I sat and listened some more. And through the quiet, the words emerged: You are enough. You are whole. You are enough. You are whole. Over and over again.
Still, I was a little afraid that the words were coming from my crazy, tired, overwhelmed mind. So I asked for an image, a metaphor, something that would tell me all that I needed to know.
And then it came: the baby nectarines on the tree in our front garden. We planted this tree last year, a gift from my mother. These are the first signs of new life. Nurtured. Nourishing.
My heart knows.
Everything's as it should be. And it's going to be OK.