September 27, 2010

Wisdom from the Rolling Stones: A Mama's Meditation

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

I was just speaking with my friend Karen, whose second little boy is Bertrand's age. Bertrand is sick again today and is missing school. So, somehow our conversation turned back to when we were pregnant with our boys. I couldn't help but reminisce:
  • How I'd stricken caffeine, lunch meats, sushi, and non-organic fruits and vegetables (such as peaches and peppers) from my diet.
  • How I'd refused to take pain medication or any drugs during pregnancy and post-partum.
  • How I'd planned on breastfeeding as long as I could and wearing him as much as I could.
  • How I'd been signing with him since birth.
  • How many books I'd read on everything from general pediatrics to elimination communication.
  • How we'd chosen to run additional tests such as the first trimester screen, to rule out three common genetic conditions.
  • How we'd done "everything right".
  • How I never knew more about parenthood than I did then! ;)
There is simply no doubt in my mind that having Bertrand in my life has made me an incredibly lucky mom and a much better person. My little zen master has taught me more about patience, compassion, humility, empathy, courage, and virtue than countless books or lifetimes ever could. I have by no means mastered these lessons but I feel like I am finally walking through life with eyes that are open for the first time.

I joked with Karen that, regardless, I would gladly be the same "horrible person" I was before if that would prevent Bertrand's suffering and grant him a full and happy life. :) Thankfully, that's not something I've dwelled on as my darling Mr. Perfect has taught me to find the beauty in living each day--one day at a time.

The illusion of control is one that is very important for people and, it seems in particular, for parents to maintain. Bertrand, far from making my life harder, has made it much easier for me to go through life because I now realize the only thing I am guaranteed control of in life is my own attitude. How appropriate is it then that the Rolling Stones were on the radio, when I turned it on, singing:
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need!


  1. My Hubby and I decided we were just clueless before our children were born. No matter how many parenting books we read. Even with a PhD in child development, I still had to attend the "Bathe the Baby" class before I took him home. Talk about humility, but funniest was that when I told this to my doctoral committee chair - he said he had the exact same experience. ('Course he told the story better!)

    Excellent post, Cristina.


  2. It's all so true. Growing up is painful, isn't it?! I know what you mean about thinking we could do without so much growth if we could be spared the pain. Some kindhearted but clueless person said to me the other day, "Even though your son's problems are hard, I bet you just wouldn't change a thing." Um, no. Wouldn't I defeat little John's seizure disorder if I could? Eliminate his allergies? Convince him to eat with his mouth instead of a feeding tube? Feed him Cheerios and peaches and milk and peas instead of vitamin and mineral powder and MCT oil? Allow him to play with toys freely, roll over, sit up, crawl, stand, walk, and talk like all the other 1-year-olds? I'd sacrifice my own personal growth (or my life for that matter) to have those things any day! But we don't choose our challenges, we only choose whether or not we will let them work to make us stronger. Thanks for reminding us all of that.

    You are also a great example of true patience, which contrary to common usage doesn't just mean sitting around quietly waiting or just accepting things as they are. It means actively working toward a worthwhile goal even though the reward may be far off and require persistent effort over many years. Sometimes when I feel impatient with the pace of medical care or my son's progress I remind myself, "What would my life look like if I were truly impatient? I would have given up. I would have said, 'Nothing has worked yet, so I give up.' But I keep on going, and that is real patience." Thanks for this wonderful post.

  3. I so needed to read this just now. Thanks so much. It's amazing how I can bounce from grief to acceptance multiple times each day. Life can be one huge roller coaster, but in the end I'm sure I'll be begging to do it all over again.

    Cody's mom