We often hear about how parenting and having children brings unparalleled joys. And this is very very true.
However, what we don’t hear very often is how becoming a parent is the guarantee of the most anguished pain you’ll ever experience.
Now, before folks think I feel miserable as a mom, let me explain:
I had my daughter (10 yo going on Ancient) for the Yule holiday. We had the most *fantastic* time! I found the place inside me that could give her the most important things: undivided attention, a hearty effort at festivities, deep listening to her hurting places, and an overall gentle, fun presence. As anyone who’s seen our photos can tell, it was Magick!
I took her back to her father’s (her full time home) yesterday. She’ll spend Christmas Eve and Day surrounded by his family, who all adore her and have for her whole life. She’ll get her Canadian grandmother’s French onion soup. And her uncle’s awkward but charming jokes. She’ll get oodles of her grandfather’s warmth and stories about christmases-past. As well as presents and feasting galore.
Last night, after I returned home from the day’s drive, I felt so sad to face this house, devoid of her smile and laughter and scent. I allowed myself to feel the pain of her absence and cried.
Amidst the pain, I reached for the way that I wish it was different. Did I wish her to live with me again? How did I want it to change?
And then something uncomfortable, but oddly comforting, hit me. Being a mom was always going to be painful.
When I had her 100% of the time, I hid in the closet with tears of overwhelm. Whether it’s the trauma or neurodivergence or something else completely, being a full-time mom was f-cking HARD. It left me feeling stripped and tense, unable to show up in the ways I wanted to.
Now that she’s with her father, I have the pain of missing her, and wanting to be able to hold her anytime I want to.
Either way, taking a piece of my own heart out, giving her legs and free will, was always going to hurt, excruciatingly. I suspect it’s the same for all parents - we are bound to feel deep pain as we have to separate ourselves, watch them fall and rise again, or just face their own demons.
By the end of my cry last night I realized that, given that it’s going to hurt for me no matter what, I only wish for whatever makes her happiest and feeling the most loved. I truly believe that this arrangement of time does that.
Understanding this helps me hold my pain with the gentleness that I freely offer her pain. What a beautiful miracle!