This week I nearly lost a family member, albeit a four-legged one. And in the midst of dealing with urgent care doctors, IVs and exorbitant bills, I shed a lot of tears and thought a lot about the end of life…how quickly it arises and how little control we actually have over it.
At four months pregnant, the last thing I imagined being preoccupied with while creating life was death. But it keeps coming up again and again. This little person in my womb, barely 5 inches long now, will die someday (hopefully long after me). Perhaps it seems strange to be thinking about my baby’s death, when it has not yet had its birth, but I feel it is important.
I like to picture myself becoming a non-controlling mother, one who allows her child to roam free, realizing their dreams uninhibited by my fears and expectations. But my fierce instinct to keep our cat alive this week and my fears of letting him leave the house (now that he is home recovering) have brought to light just how difficult this state of motherhood may be.
How do we balance our parental instinct to protect and nurture with the tendency to become overprotective, fear-based parents who raise fearful, reticent children?
In these moments, I think of my mother and all that I have put her through, testing the limits of her sanity (you too dad!).
When I was 18, I entered my first war zone in Cambodia and ventured far West into the territory of the brutal Khmer Rouge Dictator Pol Pot…just to see what I could see. When I emerged unharmed a week later in Vietnam, I forgot to call home on the agreed upon date and my poor mom spent several days distraught, waiting by the phone, refusing to leave the house (at that time we had no e-mail, no Facebook, just expensive calling booths).