Monday, August 11, 2008

Baby Mine, Don't You Cry

Today my five-year-old daughter started to cry, and said, “Mom, I don’t ever want to have babies, ever.”

And I said, “Why do you say that?”

“Because it hurts you. They have to cut your tummy with a knife. And that hurts a whole lot. I just don’t want to.”

I was speechless for a moment. Where had she heard about tummies being “cut?” I decided she’d probably seen one of these birthing television shows on A & E or something. It seems like childbirth is everywhere on T.V. these days.

“Well, honey, not all mommies have their tummies cut. And there’s medicine that makes it so it doesn’t hurt. Anyway, you don’t have to worry about that for a very long time.”

“Yeah,” she whined, “and then if I did have babies, you’d be old like a grandma and then you’d probably die. Just like your mom died when she was a grandma. And I don’t want you to die. So I don’t ever want to have babies. Never EVER!”

She tossed herself onto my bed in a heap, crying dramatically. I stroked her hair. I thought about my mother and her untimely death. I remember feeling like a five-year-old little girl when she died, even though I was a young adult.

There’s a scene in the movie “Dumbo” where the little elephant wants his mother, but she’s been banished and caged. His trunk reaches up to her desperately, and for a brief moment she's able to cradle him through the bars, rocking him to the song, “Baby Mine, Don’t You Cry.” But then she must slip away into the darkness, leaving him all alone. My mother’s death made me feel just that vulnerable and scared.

“I think someday you’ll change your mind,” I told my daughter. “Being a mommy is a wonderful thing. My mom loved being my mommy. And I love being your mommy.” I told her a little about the day she was born. And I said, “I’ve had lots of babies. And look, I’m fine. I survived. I’m here with you, and I’m happy.”

I didn’t mention the fact that she was indeed “cut” from my tummy, and that days after her birth I was rushed back to the hospital when the incision completely re-opened. Her birth and the recovery were very difficult. I also didn’t mention stuff like stretch marks, the pain of breastfeeding, the heartbreak of loss, the devastation of divorce and sick children and the many other things a mother might experience which make a “cut tummy” seem like a jog down the sidewalk. She’d have to find these things out on her own, after life toughens her up a bit. I hope she’ll be spared some of them, but certainly not the intermittent joy.

Moms are warriors, but we start out--and part of us will always remain--as scared little girls. Tonight I understood my daughter.

1 comment:

Missy said...

Kristyn,
I sing that song to Maklee all the time, the first time I showed the video clip to her (you tube) she burst into tears, somehow my sweet little two year old understood that his mommy was not with him. Being a mom is the most stressful, hard, scary, thing I have ever done but you're right it is totally worth every minute. My heart aches for another one so bad, I am so glad I have Maklee. Good job as always!