When people find out that you are expecting a baby, the universal reaction is “Congratulations! This is so terrific!” Once this wonderful creature enters your world, you are struck with this overwhelming sense of vulnerability and an immediate appreciation for the fragility of life. No one warns you of this. You couldn’t really comprehend it anyway until that moment you come face to face with this amazing, mysterious being.
For most of us, the initial urge is to control everything in our child’s environment – keeping this most precious person safe and happy. The illusion related to our ability to do this is pretty strong when our kids are little. They can’t injure themselves by falling because they can’t even walk yet! Their cries when hungry or in need a diaper change prompt us to take immediate action to soothe and comfort. Things get a little dicier as time passes though. How many parents have watched in horror as their child, teetering on shaky legs right next to them, takes a header into the corner of the table they are holding on to? “How could this happen? I was right there!” With each passing year you begin to get that sinking feeling that your ability to truly keep your child safe (and protect your own heart) is pretty slim. Once they get their driver’s license, well, all bets are off. Most of us understand that if we let ourselves go to that dark place of worry, where all of the awful, disastrous things that could possibly happen to our kids lives, we would become paralyzed. And our kids would hate us.
When the realization of this extreme vulnerability of your heart arises, what do you do? Do you encase your heart in a protective bubble wrap, attempting to shelter it from the bumps and bruises associated with living? Or do you acknowledge that this feeling, this extreme sense of being exposed, is the only place where you can experience the authentic connection with those we love? If it’s the latter, then you know the upside of mortgaging your heart. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Father’s Day!