Since all new episodes of "Oprah" are set to automatically record on my DVR, I know that I'm fulfilling at least one stereotype of a Stay at Home Mom: I watch most epis of "Oprah." Check. They often make me cry. Check, Check. I am their target audience. I am the woman at home in my sweatpants that the producers consider when they sit around hashing out all the moments when Ope will pause in between interruptive questions in case a few tears want to creep out and slither down her cheeks. (Have you ever seen Ope do the ugly cry? Me either.) And today I watched the one about the case of the two Indiana college girls and the mistaken identity, and of course I cried. I can't remember what triggered my tears, but I know it was something said about being a parent and receiving the call every parent dreads. Prior to this, I read a blog entry by a woman who had lost her daughter at six weeks. Possibly the first time a blog has ever caused me to well up with tears.
What I know is this - a year ago, this would not have happened. Sure I wouldn't have been watching Oprah or reading mom blogs. But I also wouldn't have had the visceral reaction to them either. Motherhood has absolutely wrecked me. And it has wrecked me for the better.
I knew I would love my daughter and I knew I would experience joy and pain as a parent. But I thought the pain part would come much, much later. Yet, each day, my heart swells and contracts with my utter thanks that I can be a part of nurturing something so vulnerable, and with a sobering knowledge that this creature is only on loan to me for a little while. She's only mine to hold for a couple of years, only mine to instruct for a few more. I may only have her heart for what in God's time is a lunch break, and tomorrow I will go to pick her up from her crib and she will have the sides of it covered in posters of Goth rockers, the banisters strung with Christmas lights.
Before I saw Baby Girl, I was in labor for 44 hours, 33 of which I was hooked up to a fetal monitor. I obsessively watched her heartbeat. I didn't want to go to sleep in case it dropped. When I was splayed out on the operating table during the c-section, they put an oxygen mask over me and I kept taking it off every five minutes to ask the nurse how her heart was beating. Her heart was already in my hands, but I have known for a little while that she also held mine.
When I was an intern in college, Lovey Loverpants sent this book to me. I made the mistake of reading it on the DC Metro. Tears streamed down my cheeks, surely not as pretty as Oprah's. This is one of the most beautiful things about parenthood I've ever read, and with two months' experience under my belt, I can attest it rings true.
It might as well be mine, Casey - that heart in your hand. Still beating, still alive, but no longer with me. No longer in my control. You took it when I wasn't watching, and I will never have it back. It will always belong to me, but it will always be with you. You will hold it when I'm joyful, you will hold it in my sorrow, you will hold it when I'm cruel to you, when I laugh with you, when I question you. Even when I don't understand you, you will still be holding my heart. It will be ith you when I hold you up and when I let you down. And you will know me far better than I could ever know you, because you are holding and I am only being held...
Then one day when you leave, you will take it with you. It will still belong to me. I will wait for its return because I will always need it. But I'll not see it again - not like his, not like today. And I'll feel he ache of every moment that it's gone. Some days the ache will bruise me and some days it will almost kill me, but it will never make me sorry, because I'll always know that it's the price I've paid to be held by you. It's the price I've paid for this blessed ride in the palm of your hand.
- Marc Parent, Believing it All