Friday, September 03, 2010

Little Wonders

I sat with my patient, a new mother, in the examination room. She was there for her first post-partum visit and we were discussing the events of the last few weeks. We chatted about breast feeding, birth control, lack of sleep, how annoying it is that men can sleep through *anything*, and then, I asked, as I always do, about how she was handling things emotionally. I always make it a point to screen for post-partum depression, many times, if you don't ask, they will not tell you how they are really feeling. This time, though she passed the screening for depression, she gave a laugh and said, "For the first time, I know why my mother is the way that she is." She went on to elaborate how she always made fun of how emotional her mother is, and now how she couldn't watch Kleenex commercials any more without bawling like a baby. It is so true. When we become parents we are forever changed, not only do we understand our parents better, but the way that we look at the whole world is different.

For me, it was the same. Before I became a mother, I loved to watch scary movies. The scarier the better. Imagine my surprise when, not long after Cindy Lou was born, and Mr. Whoo and I settled in to watch a horror flick when I realized that I had changed. I could not watch it, couldn't even get past the first 30 minutes. Why? Because there was a little girl child in it who was missing, and I couldn't handle thinking of a child (my child) being lost, scared, and alone. I never realized how many horror films use disturbing images of children before having a child of my own. It changed how I watch movies even now, far removed from the emotional lability of the immediate post-partum days. The same holds true for news stories involving children, footage of the 2004 tsunami devastated me, same for Katrina the summer after. The tears flow more freely now, happy, sad, and wistful. Most of all, music speaks to me, and often moves me to tears. There are certain songs I associate with different stages of my children's lives, and find myself tearing up just thinking of the lyrics. For Cindy Lou, it is "Baby Mine" and "Return to Pooh Corner." For Bean it is "Sweet Baby James" and "Little Wonders." Especially these lyrics:

"Our lives are made, in these small hours, these little wonders, these twists and turns of fate.
Time falls away, but these small hours, these small hours still remain."

So now I know how my mother felt when I was younger, when Cindy Lou turns to find me wiping away a happy tear or two and says, "Mommy, if you are happy, then why are you crying?" Perhaps it is because the transformative joy and wonder of having a part in creating these precious lives fills up our hearts until they break, just a little, from the magic of it all. How have your children changed the way you see the world?

***Cross Posted at Mothers in Medicine***


Anonymous said...

I've always been a sentimental mush ball, but my children have changed me. They've given me a new perspective on love. I've learned I can be a good mommy even if mine wasn't. I wrote a poem to my firstborn years ago, and described becoming a mother as being born from a self focused me into a new thing, something I hadn't been before. Sure, I'd loved, but this mommy love is different. I feel like the center of an atom with the electrons (my children) floating around me. If they go out there too far, my heart is tugged toward them. It's just how it has to be.

And I do understand the association of my own child in situations you describe in horror movies. I want so badly to write a book and keep trying to start, but my mind has made the little girl (Faith) to be my own little Jillian. I cannot put Faith through any bad things because she looks like my daughter when I think of her. I guess good authors have to get over that, but I cannot. I have to find another way to write about Faith, possibly making her me for a bit so she can experience the things I need her to in my hopeful book.


Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

I'll never forget being home that first week after giving birth and literally sobbing at a COFFEE COMMERCIAL!
It was just so emotionally touching.....

Marketers must love post partum women.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my, yes.

Anonymous said...

About 10 days after my daughter was born my husband and I were channel surfing when we stumbled on a scene from "Titanic" in which a mother is telling a story to her two small children to keep them calm while the freezing waters rise around them in their cabin. It took me about 2 seconds to go from normal to a devastated, sobbing wreck.

And yet before kids, I'd watched that scene with hardly a blink!

Ev said...

Love this post! It rings absolutely true, it's like after becoming a mother, your heart turns inside out and grows OUT of your chest. My heart seems to be feel more love, more pain, more tenderness, more fear, more easily now. I both love and hate how vulnerable it makes me.

Dr. Heather Rupe said...

Loved this.... so true

LauraT said...

I'm much more sensitive than I was before having six kids. I can't watch torture scenes in movies, or anything depicting human suffering. It really is true that kids "break your heart" in that you are so much more vulnerable with part of your heart walking, breathing, growing, living outside of you. It's good, though, all good.

sarah h said...

Thank-you for normalizing my insane emotional roller-coaster since having my son! Since his dramatic entrance into this world (a tornado was involved) I am devastated by what I once thought to be the smallest things...a picture on the cover of a newspaper or magazine of a child in ANY sort of pain/fear takes the wind out of me as though I have been punched in the chest. THEN I have to fight fixating on that and all other injustices that involve kids in this world. Being a mother makes me passionate about protecting kids in a visceral, grizzly bear, heartbreaking way I didn't expect.