When I became pregnant with my first child, I had no clue that I was embarking on the most intense period of personal development I have ever experienced. Forget those self-help books I had filled my shelves with. My new baby became my guru, counselor and coach all wrapped up in one dimpled package.
Perhaps I should have guessed that major growth was coming my way when my acupuncturist shared some advice on giving birth.
She explained that most women reach a point in their labor when they feel like they might just die if they have to endure any more pain. This is an important part of the labor, she reasoned, because a part of you IS dying. You are essentially being reborn as a mother, a parent. The mind-numbing pain serves as a signal to surrender completely to the labor, to let go of control and to give in to the natural process of life. My acupuncturist urged me to practice surrendering as I awaited the big day.
Gulp… How did she know that control was an issue for me? That I grew up in a chaotic, single-parent home, and that I learned to cope with the chaos by attempting to manipulate my environment, my appearance, my everything? “Surrender – Let Go,” became my silent mantra for the remainder of my pregnancy.
Predictably, my new theme song slipped my mind as I worked my way through the labor. But the significance of the event did not escape me; the natural birth of my son was an incredibly transformative experience. And afterward, I thought, Whew – hard part over!
Heh-heh. Little did I know that Aidan’s birth was only the beginning of my own “rebirth,” and that my new baby boy would unwittingly encourage me to give up control in the weeks and months to come.
It began two weeks after his arrival. Aidan wasn’t gaining weight, despite my zealous attempts to breast-feed him. Consequently, I had to swallow my pride… and seek some help. When he was four weeks old and developed baby acne, cradle cap and a splotchy rash, I confronted my own appearance-related insecurities. And when he was two and I had to lug him, bawling and flailing, out of the library when he wasn’t quite ready to leave, I let go of other people’s perceptions and judgments.
I let go of being on time, having stain-free clothing, getting a full night’s sleep, knowing all the answers…
I let go.
I realized that I was also surrendering and quietly letting down my walls. I surrendered to the jubilant hugs, slobbery kisses and uninhibited cuddling that only a little one can bestow. Surrendered to the most pure, unadulterated and unwavering love I have ever given or received in my life.
Naturally, this is an ongoing journey for me. I still battle with various control issues. I have two boys now, and catch myself pacing the house tense-shouldered, miffed that I am not in complete control of my hand-print covered, laundry-filled home. The tension usually signals me to breathe and start up my old chant, “Surrender – Let Go.” My sons seem determined to teach me this important life lesson, even if they have to spill 200 cups of sticky juice to get the message through. Stubborn like their mama, they’re going to break me of my control habit, regardless of what it takes!
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