As most of you know, I am the mother to a 16-month-old boy. Over the past 16 months, I have been surprised by how emotional I have become about children in general. Many years ago, I served on the board of a group of young professionals supporting a local children's hospital. I was in charge of volunteer opportunities. We would often host parties, storytimes and crafting events for the children. One of my fellow directors would always help with supplies and setup but would never stay for the parties. She was a young mother of two and said it was just too hard for her to see the sick children at the hospital. I could not understand this. I loved children and, while it was sometimes difficult to see the more dire cases, I always found it incredibly rewarding to be with them at those parties. Now, I wish I could go back in time and apologize to that woman. If I were in the same position now, I would probably have to drop off supplies and decorations and leave as well.
I am reading a really great novel right now about WWII. I just finished a scene where a young pregnant mother and her toddler son are trying to evacuate Berlin by train. In the scene, the toddler gets separated from his mother on the platform and she can't get to him through the throng of people. As I read this, I felt my throat tighten up and I had trouble breathing. I imagined that little boy as my son and I got really upset. This happens a lot now. I hear about a child who is ill or a child who has fallen under some kind of harm and I can't help but think...what if that were my child? There but by the grace of God...
Granted, I am an emotional person anyway. But parenthood makes you more vulnerable somehow. While I don't hover over my child or constantly worry about him, I am acutely aware of how lucky I am that my child is safe and healthy. So, if I get a little emotional over a book now and then, I'm going to give myself a break.
Not long ago, I was reading a book about an Indian raid on a North Texas ranch in the 1800's. Several small boys were murdered in the first few pages. I put the book down and never read any further. I'm going to give myself permission to do that from now on. I'll blame it on hysterical motherhood.