i still count their breaths, and hold mine in fear…

April 17, 2011

i have not changed; i am still that nineteen year old mama staying up nights, desperately tired but even more afraid that this fragile, magical baby entrusted to me could break or wind down or simply stop. the first thing i do when i wake in the night is place a hand on each of my children’s bellies and feel for the movement of their breath, listening hard in the still dark for the easy, slow wind that means everything in my shrunken night-time world is right.

i fear cars, both our occasional rides in them and the death that they deal to bicyclists, pedestrians, anyone breathing the outside air and working to get where they’re going (and so often children). i fear disease. most of all i fear sudden stillness, the unexplainable loss that is immediately known and unfathomable.

not always, believe me, i am not so far gone that i cringe and cower always… but enough. enough to sometimes think “how could i have doubled my risk of loss by having two children?” and to wonder if i may have more than doubled it, distractions being exponentially more common with two children involved.

and yet i want my children to feel none of this, and to be in the world not bravely but naturally, playing and free, seeing little of this mother-fear until they have their own children. and i want more for them: more adventure, more experience, more laughter, more friends, more siblings… more of everything, it seems, that comes with a greater risk of loss.

i pledge to myself to keep them safe and to let them go, in equal measure and as this life calls for. i can do no better than to know that they are already in the world and will now live in it.

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