Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mama Bean has to get Papa Bean a really good birthday present

At our weekly breastfeeding support group, we have a little discussion period, and one time we were asked, "What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mom?" Most of the answers centred on the way a child necessitates an almost immediate loss of putting your self first. It's not that self-interest goes out the window, that the pull of selfishness isn't there. It's just that it always ends up second to the needs of the baby. Because they are so utterly helpless, and they really do depend on us for absolutely everything.

The needs are greater, in a Maslow's Hierarchy kind of way, at the beginning - those foundational basic and safety needs of food and cleanliness and a warm place to sleep. My nightmares, at that time, focused on catastrophic inabilities to fulfill those needs. "What if we were in a car crash in the middle of a storm, and I couldn't keep him warm enough, and I didn't have enough food or water, and my breastmilk dried up, and he just cried and cried from hunger until he fell into exhaustion, and we all die?" Or, after the Haiti earthquake: "What if that was me? How would I keep him protected from the sun? How would I change his dirty diapers? Where would we get water? Could I keep feeding him?" You know, basic mom fears.

As he gets older, it's assumed you've got those bottom-of-the-pyramid things covered, and increasingly we're responsible for those higher emotional and self-actualization needs. How exactly do I help my nine-month-old self-actualize anyway?

Anyway, that day, I didn't have any deep answer to the question. I'm sure I've learned things about myself since being a mama, most of them something along the lines of "I had no idea I could DO [insert parenthood related activity - change ten diapers of day, clean yellow poop off three outfits in a row, absorb liters of breastmilk and spit-up into my clothes, without batting an eye or "spitting up" myself...]" And I have learned all the right lessons about leaving my selfishness at the door, and taking extra food at dinner because I know some of it's going to go into my mooch of a son's tummy instead of mine. And I have learned all those other nice things about how I didn't know I could love someone so much, etc. I mean, babies! Gawd! They're just so gall-darned ADORABLE!


Here's the immediate thought that popped into my head when I heard the question: since becoming a mom, I have learned how much my husband loves me. Which doesn't really answer the question, since it's not something I learned about my self. But it's something I've learned related to my Self and Immediate Well-being, not to mention my Heart. Or my Soul.

My husband loves me A LOT. More than I ever thought I knew, and I thought I had a pretty good idea. I have learned, more than anything else about my own personal capacity to love and care for another, little tiny human Beanlet, that I absolutely, positively married the perfect man for me. I have learned what partnership means. I have learned, from him how to love Bean more selflessly, how to live life more patiently, and how to feel everything more fully.

In those first Delirious 24 hours, when we were getting up every three hours to boil the water and pump the colostrum, and fill the feeding syringe, and he was holding Bean while I positioned myself in the chair, with the feeding pillow, and arranging the nipple shield, and then holding the syringe and slooooooowly pushing the plunger down, as we coached the tiny beast to suck more, and faster, and harder, and stay awake for crying out loud! and please please just take a little more you're doing so well, 20 mL already (20 mL! How long does it TAKE to drink 20 mL? An eternity? Oh, sure, only an eternity at 2 o'clock in the morning...) and then changing the tiny diaper, and putting all his tiny clothes back on, and we did it all as a team, sharing the load, sharing the immense weight of uncertainty and worry that we somehow Were Not Doing Enough - I tell ya, my eyes were opened. To a whole new Papa Bean. And even though we learned plenty of lessons about what love is during our previous eight years together, it was like a totally different level of the pyramid, y'know?

That's a good man, right there :)

I don't think you have to have a baby to experience this with your spouse. I think I just realize, now, that this is the undercurrent of marriage, this constant growth into stronger, more loving partnership. When you live life together, you don't just keep falling and falling into love. You walk around, side by side, dealing with shit. Dealing with life. And you share it, good bad and in between. There's a lot of in between. And in the process, you see each other in new and deeper ways, and then, then you fall deeper into love.

Listen to this song, and don't worry if it makes you cry. It totally made me cry.

1 comment:

  1. My wife loves me. :)

    I love her too. Bunches and bunches of lots.