Thursday, January 13, 2011

Someone who has made my life worth living

Without a doubt, my boys are who make my life worth living. Before I had them, I was living in a fog of no direction and a miasma of self-hatred.

When Callum and Tobey arrived on the scene, my life was no longer just about me. I had to turn myself outward and find a way to give them what they needed. I remember thinking that from the minute Callum came out of my body, seven years ago on Sunday, I became a bit player in a larger story. At first  my relegation to the wings this seemed strange, but then it made sense. It was now my job to nurture and raise a brand-new person, as frightening as that was for someone who had never really been able to attach successfully to anyone before.

Callum was so sick. I didn't know what was coming as the days passed. I sat by his warmer in the NICU, holding his hand as he lay under the hot, bright bili lights, and marveled at the first person I'd ever met who was related to me by blood. And sadly, I had passed along a gene for some not-very-good blood that landed him in this poor health. But we were in this together, and if I could survive, so could he.

My emotional defenses melted. I loved spending time with him, watching him grow, reading poetry to him. Our favorites were Christina Rossetti and William Blake. When I was in a bad mood, we read Dante. He sat on my lap and gazed at me with eyes--my eyes--that said I had to be strong for him.

When Tobey came along, I felt more ready to rise to the task of mothering, and I was delighted that Tobey looked just like my baby self. Finally, my eyes and smile were registered in another face (and as it would later turn out, generations of Newmans). Tobey was--and is--my snuggler, always happiest when he was held close in my arms. He is an old soul, that boy, wonderful and perceptive and fragile under his gruff exterior.

In the year after Tobey was born, I began to test my boundaries with other people more and more, cutting people out of my life who were thoughtless and rude and who hurt me. I didn't need them around because they made me less than I thought I should be for my children. This would be a footnote not worth mentioning in most people's lives, but my new sense of groundedness and self-esteem was huge in the narrative I've lived. Friends who have known me for a long time will attest to this as the period in which I stopped taking other people's shit.

I have been watching Season Six of Weeds over the past few days, and there is a particular episode in which Nancy, on the run, calls her husband to tell him that his attempt to kill her and her elder sons has failed. She is a mama lion, she says, and no one is stronger than a mama lion whose cubs are threatened. I get that now on a visceral level.

I don't think I would be half the person I am today without Callum and Tobey. I wouldn't be a nurse. I wouldn't have persevered in my search for my first family. I wouldn't be writing or thinking as thoughtfully as I do. They have been the catalysts for so much good. I need to remember that when I want to wring their necks for being cruel to each other.

I owe them everything. Although it's not their job to save me, they have.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Children are a gift. When I became a mom, I thought I would be the teacher. But, more often than not, I find that I am the learner.