Hindsight Parenting: A Better Place Than Where We Began
Floating on a Universal Wind
My daughter turns 3 in two weeks. Three. That means that it has been three years and nine months since the surprise of my life happened. Since I stood in my miniscule bathroom with the new-fangled electronic EPT test in my hand that kept blinking the word “yes” over and over until the motion of that, coupled with my utter shock, made me feel dizzy and faint. I am sure that I have discussed in this column before that my reaction was less than enthusiastic.
Parenting my sons had been well just a crap shoot in many ways, and the waders I wore didn’t protect me at all from that raw sewage I sludged through daily trying to match that perfect mother in my head. The do-do seeped in deep; a constant reminder that I was nowhere near doing a great job. Now I know that there were MANY other factors that made my role difficult; absent grandparents, an ex hell bent on saying, doing, thinking and breathing the exact opposite of anything that I did, genetics, environment…on and on…and I guess that was EXACTLY what was going through my head that fateful day as I held that EPT….I did NOT want to go through the “on and on” again. Ever again. I had had enough.
But, today, as I write this column and Ila is sitting next to me watching Sid the Science Kid, I realize that like so many other times in my life, Captain Doomsday took over during that moment and thought of all of the BAD, HORRIBLE, TEDIOUS, ANNOYING, TIRING things that could POSSIBLY happen. Hindsight tells me that this thinking character, Captain Doomsday, came about as a sort of protection. Things were rough during my 30’s and I guess that allowing Captain D to take over my thoughts perhaps prepared me for what COULD be the worst. That way if it happened…I wouldn’t be caught by surprise. Not good. Not good at all. Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Had I had the power of foresight on that day in the claustrophobic commode, I would have realized that at least up until now, Captain Doomsday was dead wrong. Dead. Wrong. Having Ila wasn’t an ending…she was a beginning. She wasn’t going to be part of the on and on…in fact she would be its undoing. And while I could pontificate about all of the ways that my life is different, that I am different because of one powerful little girl, that really isn’t the point of this column.
Hindsight is a skilled teacher and if you pay attention, it can have a powerful effect on your growth as a human being. In this case, comparing that day in the bathroom, my hands clenching the edge of the sink to steady me from the fear and anguish that gripped my soul allowing Captain Doomsday do his number on me…his scary voice screaming, “I can’t do this again” over and over—a broken record…to now, and zooming through all the occasions, events and moments in between, it is clear to me that the universe had specific reasons for Ila’s appearance on this earth, but I didn’t trust that…even in the face of universal signs…and there were SO many signs…I just couldn’t let go of (and here comes that word that ruled my thinking the first time around as a parent) I just couldn’t let go of “control”.
At one point during the pregnancy, me still sloshing through the mire of having another child, we were told that Ila may have a possibly life threatening heart condition. We were whisked off to a fancy schmancy hospital in NYC for a procedure, an aneuploidy fish test, that would analyze her DNA for every genetic disorder known to man. Hours before the test, as I often do, I stood in the shower and spoke to my dead grandmother, asking for guidance and peace and that whatever would be would be…her name was Ila Gauthier and I suppose that I still talk to her twenty some years after her death because she was my favorite person in the entire universe; the one human being that I am sure loved me unconditionally.
When I arrived to get the test, we walked into a ginormous hotel lobby-like waiting room with literally 50-100 pregnant women mulling around. I approached a check-in desk with 15 receptionists seated in a row typing away, talking to patients. I became overwhelmed with the crowd, with the impending pain I would go through during the procedure, with the fact that I may lose the only child my husband would ever have a chance to have, with the guilt that perhaps all my wishing may have caused this problem…and a woman’s voice pierced through my agony. I looked up and she waved me down to the end of the counter where her computer was situated. I walked slowly like one going to the electric chair. I leaned against the counter, head down, big plopping tears splashing on the lacquered top, and she spoke again in a soothing voice, “Aw hon. It is going to be ok.” Something about her voice caused me to look up right at her. She stared into my eyes…deeply…as if she once knew me and said again, “It is going to be ok.” At that very moment I looked down at her name tag so that I could thank her properly for her kindness and I lost my breath. Her name, the woman who insisted in a deep and soulful way that all would be fine, her name was Ilette Gauthier.
And there was my sign. Now when it happened, I took it to mean that the test itself would come out fine, as it did. I didn’t take it as a sign for the things to come. But I should have. In a way, I believe, (and I am usually not one who gets excited about other worldly mumbo jumbo), however, I believe with my entire soul that that woman with my grandmother’s name was the universe slapping me aside the head with a two by four. “It is going to be ok” was a message. “Let go Logan. You can’t control everything. You are not in charge. Enjoy the ride. In the end, it is going to be ok. All is well.”
Three years after the birth of my daughter, I am slowly getting it. The universe has its own plans for my life. That’s not to say that I don’t have ANY free choice, but there are things, occasions, moments, happenings, that I will have no control over. Hindsight has taught me that these universal whims are the very experiences that help us to grow and evolve and gather life’s wisdom. Rather than pushing against them, lamenting them, letting them depress us, we should learn to fling ourselves into the universal wind and let it carry us where it will. Where we land may be unfamiliar but I am positive it will be a better place than where we began.
Five months after that fateful day in NYC, my darling daughter was born. Her birthday? September 1st—a birthday she shares with her wise, and selfless great grandmother, Ila Gauthier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Leticia L]