“You wouldn’t understand.” I used to hear it a lot in the first 35 years of my life. It’s one of the consequences of waiting until you’ve lived a good chunk of your life before you become a mother. All the parents out there think that the childless can’t possibly understand the emotions and experiences and difficulties they go through. I heard it so much, and every time it really ticked me off. We’re all human, and I’m usually a pretty empathetic one. How can I not understand or at least feel empathy for another human’s experience?
In the past few days I have been riveted and very touched by the experiences ofÂ seasoned blogger, Katie Granju, whose son passed away yesterday after an overdose and severe beating at the hands of a drug dealer. Her son struggled in the hospital for over a month, and she shared her experiences and feelings. She opened up and shared a secret she had kept for years for fear of being judged as a bad mother.
I can’t think of a time in my life when I wouldn’t have read her story and been moved, but something does feel different now that I’m also a mother. I see Azita’s face on every hurt child, and it makes me feel panicked inside even though I know she is safe in bed or at daycare or even in my arms. It is a horrible feeling, and it strikes at any time whether logical or not. A kid can be kidnapped in a movie, and I feel an overwhelming urge to run to the bedroom and hold Azita for dear life. It’s a movie. I know it’s all special effects and acting and Hollywood mumbo jumbo. It still strikes me at my very core.
It’s even worse when I read a real-life story. Another mother’s day-by-day account of her child’s suffering. I can so easily see myself in that position. Any mother who thinks such a thing couldn’t happen to them is a fool indeed.
Looking through Katie Granju’s blog, I see links to Attachment Parenting International, La Leche League, Mothering Magazine Online. I picture a woman like me. She has some of the same values. She loves her child. She LOVES her child. And she did the best she could which must be an awful lot considering the sheer intensity of her love, which so clearly comes across in her writing. This could happen to me, and it terrifies me.
These things keep me up at night and cause me to get teary eyed at seemingly random moments. I’ll admit it. I’ll admit that I was very wrong. I didn’t understand at all.