Leaning towards love —
I saw this bumper sticker some time ago, and have been thinking about how it applies to so many choices we make, or don’t make. Today I’m especially thinking about how it applies to parenthood, and how love and fear aren’t “one or the other” options. The two core emotions are intertwined like the helix’s of our emotional DNA, each weaving through our hearts, minds, and decisions from conception on. The love is fierce, and the fears — whether real or imagined — can drop us to our knees.
Yet when the worst fears for our children become our reality, don’t we instinctively lean just a little harder into love than fear? Eight years ago, when Nina was admitted to NICU for evaluation of the hole in her tiny heart, we leaned into love although fear pulled at us like quicksand.
Today, I lean with all I have into love for my spirited friend who has rocked motherhood and lives life-out-fiery-loud, all while refusing to let years of countless and painful cancer treatments define her, or her family.
And today, I also lean with all my force into love for my friends, whose 8-year-old son will undergo surgery tomorrow to remove a mass in his brain.
I wonder if this is one of the most essential paradoxes of parenthood that we will never learn about in a guidebook.
There will be immense, breathtaking, love,
There will be immense, breathtaking, fear.
Sometimes they will coexist, each with such ferocity that we can hardly bear the weight. But then the burdens we thought we’d never face as parents — learning the steps required before entering a NICU room, setting up a Caring Bridge sight for a child — become things for which we’re most grateful. We whisper “thank you” for the safety of NICU, we whisper “thank you” for the outpouring of love that floods the child’s Caring Bridge site.
And maybe it’s the best we can do as parents to grab on and nudge one another towards the “greater-than” guiding force of love, rather than crumbling into fear.
For today, I’ll go with that.