Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mama Bean has never felt this vulnerable

It's a parenting paradox. At times, I feel incredibly strong internally, from this inner shining stone of Motherhood. But then, I feel incredibly vulnerable to external threats that didn't scare me nearly as much before.

The feeling of strength is bolstered by moments of competency and clarity in the otherwise constant confusion that is my life now. (Apparently, this confusion brings on fits of alliteration!) And also the fact that I am physically bigger and stronger than Bean. He is so small, and so dependent. I must carry and position him as he needs to be, giving a (usually fleeting) sense that I am exerting my Will against his Cute and Cry. And then also, this feeling that I must be strong now. Because he is small. Because I am Mom.

This was almost a mantra in the Delirious Early Days. Mama Bean, you must be strong now, for the Bean. You must be The Mama. The strong, strong Mama. And yet, in those early days, I was terrified of being left alone. Not (only) because I had no clue what to do with Bean, but because I felt utterly defenseless. How could I fight off an intruder while securing Bean's safety? If my arms are full of baby, how can they wield weapons or strike back against evil foes who would do us harm? At night, I would lay awake with eagle ears for any peep from Bean, and any creak from intruders. When I did sleep, I had nightmares about rapists. Not thieves, always rapists.

This has calmed somewhat since the Delirium has passed, but I still feel acutely and uniquely vulnerable in a way I did not before Bean. I am still hyper-vigilant about locking the doors, particularly if I'm home alone. My mind frequently plays out disaster scenes on a loop, like it's rehearsing how I must react in the highly unlikely case that these nightmares actually happen. And there is the paradox again, for in this rehearsal, I am superhu-mom. I resist attack and protect Bean with ease, and strength, and swift, swift violence. In fact, the more violent my resistance, the stronger I feel, and this helps me stop the mind-loop and get on with my day.

Anyway, this post is not meant to be alarming - I am not going crazy. For the most part, my rational, strong mom-brain overcomes the irrational, crazy vulnerability. If it didn't, I wouldn't be able to drive anywhere, with or without Bean, and I certainly wouldn't be able leave him and go to work. So, I report this not as something super maladaptive or compromising to my, y'know, daily functioning. It's just another paradox of parenting that has bemused me since this adventure started.

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