Sunday, May 07, 2006

I love my son.

I just wanted that to be perfectly clear. I love my son. That said, there are days when I really wonder if I made the right decision, becoming a mother. Days when one-year-old tantrums are more than I can deal with. Days when I just want to shout "go to sleep - you KNOW you're tired!" Days (like today) when I look toward the week ahead and just want to cry thinking of all the hours that I'll have to be the mom without daddy around to help. And most particularly, days when I remember everything that I gave up when Jonathan came along, and I miss it, and I grieve for the loss.

I was a good choral director. I loved making music. I loved my students. I loved the adrenaline and the excitement of concert days. I loved feeling successful. I loved shaping and molding the music - a living thing that responded to my hands and voice and heart. And I never meant to give it up. I meant to have a baby AND a (part-time) career. I meant to live in both worlds - so many people do! And I am so incredibly angry that God didn't clue me in to his plan until the baby was made and it was too late to go back.

Did He know I'd back out? Did He know that if he told me the plan, I wouldn't do it? I don't even know what my choice would have been, had I known. I just know that I feel tricked, and I feel that even while I've gained something precious, I've also lost something precious. It is a hard, hard, hard trade.

I feel like a jerk even thinking this. After all, this is my son. A living, breathing human being whom God has entrusted to me. And I'm grateful for him, truly I am. I'm just angry and sad all at the same time. I keep waiting for it to get better; for music to stop hurting me; for the ache to go away. Only it doesn't go. It hides for awhile, that's all.


JMS said...

Dearest Em,
You are a musician, through and through, heart and soul. You are made to make music. And you will. Just think of the pathos your future music will express now that you're going through this time of sacrifice. Of course you're grieving the music you left behind. But when your time to make music comes back to you, your music will have a depth and dimension that you could not have fathomed before. Once upon a time you were a Souza. Now you are becoming a Tchaikovsky. The process may not be fun or glamorous. But your time to return to the thrill of music is just around the corner. You'll see. Soon all of our kids will be taking their music lessons from you and singing in your choir. & We will thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you never let go of your ache to make music. It's as essential a part of you as your motherhood, and we love you for that.
Your earnestness is God-given, Em. If it's not going away, there's a really really good reason for that. And I'm glad to hear of it. So will your future audiences.

Linds said...

I know it's not much consolation, but not very many people truly live in both worlds. It's a lie our culture perpetuates, and from the classroom, I see the broken hearts of the kids whose parents are deluding themselves into thinking they're doing it successfully. I'm so thankful you're too smart for that!

I know what you mean about feeling tricked (we've had the arthritis conversation, yes?). I promise it gets better! And Jen's right. You're a mom. You're not dead. Jonathan will be in school soon. :)

Emily said...

Except that when he goes to school, his teacher will be ME. So that won't really change things much. Maybe I'll feel better about it because I'll be teaching more formally...I don't know. Since my age-group of choice is high schoolers, and high school musicians at that, I'm not sure teaching a kindergartner will really help. ;)

Ah well. Thanks for the comments.

Amber said...

I very much agree with what Linds says at the beginning of her comment - not very many people live in both worlds, and many who do really aren't doing as good of a job of it as they think they are. Also, I would argue that the people who are able to be in both worlds either have some sort of support staff (housekeepers, nannies, etc) or their child(ren) are a lot older. Granted, parenting older children (and I'm talking 10-12+ here) has it's own difficulties, I'm sure, but it isn't the same intense needing of mama that babies, toddlers, and young children have.

There is a lot of suffering in the first couple years of parenthood - not only the lack of sleep and other forms of physical suffering, but also a lot of emotional suffering as well as your life becomes completely changed and reordered. It is a dramatic change - a dying to our individual need to do what we want, when we want and the birth of a greater patience and peace of mind as our horizons, perspectives and priorities develop, change, and expand. We also can start to learn how to fully enjoy our present time and still hold onto our hopes for the future. These things you wish for may still happen, but they may not happen until Jonathan is a high schooler himself - or perhaps not until your youngest is of high school age! Or they may never happen at all, because you've continued to evaluate your dreams as the years passed, and you've moved onto other dreams, other aspirations and you've decided to let this one slip gently away.

Keep in mind that although the days go by slowly, the years race by faster than seems possible. You'll really start to experience this in the next couple of years, if you haven't already. I can't believe Emma is four already... I remember how hard each day was when she was a baby, and how long they could be, but yet they are already gone and she will never be a little baby again. I am so blessed that I was able to experience those days, and even more blessed that I was able to be there for all of them, as hard as they were. In a way I can't believe I'm saying this, but really, I wouldn't trade any of my life for any other experience I could imagine. Even a year ago I'm not sure I would have agreed with this... but time is amazingly good at both putting things in perspective and changing one's perspective!

Amber said...

Oh, and one more thing...

Even though I consider myself blessed to have experienced the time spent with Emma as an infant, it was a hard blessing. I consider myself blessed for that time not because I realize in retrospect that it was easy and light and wonderful (I *really* wouldn't want to have to do it over again), but because I can see now how much I've changed and grown through the experience. If not for motherhood (and a rather hard start at it, at that), I think I would have stayed the same shallow, miserable, and lost person I was for perhaps my entire life. Instead I have known joy and love and peace of mind that I never thought possible... and I have faith that even when things are hard I can get through them and experience the joy and love that waits for me.

Sarah said...

Dear Emily,

Have you thought about getting re-involved in teaching music on a part-time basis? One of the things that brightens my day is teaching my four little piano students. They get a kick out of learning, and I love watching their little minds and fingers explore music each week -- and figuring out ways to help them enjoy it. You have a piano in your home now, right? Keep in mind that you most definitely play piano well enough to teach beginners, even though it wasn't your major instrument in college. My students right now are *all* piano students, since my two violin students quit. Your experience in music as a whole makes you more than qualified to give in-home piano lessons. Have you thought about trying that? Or, what about voice lessons to high schoolers? Again, it's something where students might come to your home for lessons. I had no idea how many jr. high and high school students take voice lessons until I started hearing how many of my friends here at school give lessons. Think of how many kids are dreaming of being Christine, Fantine, or Eponine. Plus a few opera stars who dream of being Pamina or Mimi as well.

It's quite possible that once you paid for childcare during the hours you taught, you wouldn't make a huge profit... but it might be worth it for your heart and soul, yes? What do you think?

I know it's not the same as directing a choir, but it might be something.


Linds said...

You know, it's not written anywhere that you have to homeschool. It's also not written anywhere that homeschooling is the best option to get a well-educated child, or even the only one. I know, I know, it's crazy, but we educators actually love our job, and do it well, and just because Jonathan goes to school away from home doesn't mean you don't get to teach him. In fact, the more involved you are, the better he'll do.

Besides, one thing you ought to think of when making that decision is your sanity. Five years of being at home alone with your child is one thing: eighteen is quite another. Sometimes what's best for you is what's best for your kid. (not often, but sometimes!) There are some excellent districts in southern California.

Dy said...

The boys were surprised to learn, not too long ago, that Mommy was en route to med school when she met Daddy. Our eldest was sad that I couldn't be a doctor. I had to smile at his empathy, but reassurred him that this is exactly where I want to be, need to be, and am supposed to be.

Do I think about it? The path(s) we didn't choose? Sure. But while I still pursue the things I find joy in (naturopathic health care, the culture of childbirth and womanhood, education), they aren't who I am. And I'm glad.

Your question about whether God doesn't clue us in until it's too late to back out had me rolling. That's what I've always told Zorak. "If God had said, 'You're going to xyz and go abc,' I'd have given up and run screaming!" But I've learned to trust Him and just realize that I'm too stubborn and short-sighted to be trusted with the Big Picture. ;-)

Honestly, I wanted everything I have now. I didn't necessarily know it, and there are days that I think residency has to be easier than this (lol), but this is a wonderful season. Not in a jolly, pollyanna, uber-Suburban June Cleaver sort of way - it's hard work. And there is a lot of dying to self, a lot of finding your true depth in service to your home and your family. But it's not a martyr's life, either. It's a season - of growth, of love, of learning. I'd have to echo Amber's sentiments in that, on the selfish end (for me, anyway), I'm so glad I am no longer the person Zorak met eleven years ago. It's been an amazing time of discovery and development.

And, it's not a permanent season. Those eighteen years will be gone in the blink of an eye (Gah, I hate cliches, but that one is just so right-on.) I look at Miss Emily with her toothless grins and bobble-headed wonder and realize we're only a few Christmasses, a few lazy summers, a few very short years away from the lanky, brilliant, funny (Oh, my, they get funny!) child that James has become at almost-eight. Wow. How it happens so quickly is beyond me, but it does.

And when that time comes, I don't think you'll look back and regret being there, being the primary influence, the first front of love and security, The Mama. I really don't.

Just my rambling thoughts, but know that you're in my prayers.


Emily said...

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful and heartfelt comments. See, this is why I blog. :) Because it is nice to be reminded that life exists outside my own confused head, and that people care about me. Love to you all!

Lauren said...

You were the best, Mrs. Moothart. I miss it, too.