Thursday, January 24, 2008

My heart is walking around town

One of my all-time favorite books is "Between Mothers and Sons: an anthology of women writers' essays about raising sons" or something like that. One of the essays contained a line that conveyed:

"On the day you conceive a child, you make an irrevocable agreement to allow your heart to walk around outside you for the rest of your days."

At the time I didn't understand it. "...your heart walk around outside you..." How odd.

But then one day about a year ago, about this time of year even (Finals week at the high school) I felt this so clearly that the phrase I had read a decade earlier stabbed straight through.

When I agreed to have a child, I also agreed to let my heart walk around outside me for the rest of my days. I dug the book out of my bookcase. Sure enough, that's what it said.

This particular day, I was watching Vee walk to school. He had forgotten to do a set of assignments. He was getting a bad grade. And such is the life of an academically inclined perfectionistic soul -- some of the worst pains are made up of the first four letters of the alphabet which are not the A.

It was one of those agonizing, trapped, suffocating feelings that just wouldn't ease up. Forget any of the "It's no big deal, it's only a grade" or other such light-heartedness because the trigger for this growing pain is irrelevant. (The trigger could have been so many other things.) My heart was right there alongside his, aching and wishing for peace.

Why mention it now? Because it's Finals week again and I am finally beginning to classify this particular ache as a symptom of growing pains, nothing more than a symptom. It's rough to see your child hurt.

The book that explains this best: "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee"

If anyone ever gave a comprehensive view of the extent of agony involved in childbirth and childrearing, the human race would extinguish itself in a single generation.