Friday, April 2, 2010
It's been awhile (too long, actually) since I was last able to write. Dratted flu. But a temporary, yet nontheless magnificent hiatus, has granted me some time to write. A reprieve. How? I made the somewhat reckless decision yesterday to drive down from Northampton to Portsmouth to spend a few days with an old friend - a friend I am too afraid to admit I may never see again what with our impending move back to South Africa. Hence the hasty heart-over-head decision. The story of the car journey I shall leave for another day, fraught, as it was, with exhaustion, error and frantic despair. (Ha, the drama queen strikes again!)
The flu Craig has so generously shared with me, and now Layla, was one of the worst I can ever remember. And I've been praying under my breath that mother's prayer of, "Please don't let my child get sick...Please, please..." But by yesterday afternoon, her smooth, pale forehead began to burn with the fever I've been dreading all week. All through the night, I checked her temperature, hoping my faithfulness and fretful diligence would abolish the fever like medicine, or a talisman. But this morning, her little body had stolen the fever from her forehead and her eyes shone with the flu. She is coughing the same cough as me now. (What pisses me off is that my darling other half has already told me that if she gets the flu it'll be my fault. And as irrational as it is to believe such a claom from someone who had the same flu and was in as much proximity to his daughter as me, I feel shittily guilty. Condemned, somehow. Guilt seems to be a mother's lot. And it's something we need to fight as mothers. It will drag us down so that we will not be able to make proper sense of our children and ourselves. This guilt will blind us. This guilt causes us to lose sight of the whole 'me' that is indelibly important for our children to see. We cannot love properly if we have forgotten who we are.) Sheesh - this is pretty damn heavy for such a lovely, lazy Friday morning!!
The point I wanted to make was that I realised how my love for Layla has slipped into a form of suffocating control. As I lay next to her in bed this morning as she napped, my heart clenched shut in prayer yet again, yet the clarity that slapped me back said that I could not hope and pray my child's painless way through her life. Besides it being impossible to protect her from every illness and sadness, it was also wrong. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is actually unloving for me to entrap her inside my love. My love should be her fortress, not her prison. She should be the princess of the bastion of my heart where she can come and go, free. I'm ashamed to look back over the last year to see how I have so blindly made her the prisoner of my mother's heart.
And so, as I watch her cough or feel her cries from the aching fever tear my heart, I consciously choose to be there for her, to comfort her and meet her needs lovingly - but no more. I choose to confront the guilt as a mere imaginary spectre, and to replace it with rational love that sets my child free to grow into herself, and into her life. (And, can I just say, thank GOODNESS for Baby Nurofen!)