… on navigating into the after-storm

Beauty After the Storm

When we have a big storm here, the most beautiful part – to me – is the next morning. The clouds are giving the sun’s rays some space to do their thing, the winds have calmed… but the ocean hasn’t quite finished putting a fine point on her argument.

The thing is, in the midst of the storm, I never know exactly when this moment will happen.

And what is nature, but life?

Many of you, who also follow Mac’s vlog on YouTube, know that she and Jack* are traveling the frustrating, and often gut wrenching, path through infertility.

It is, of course, their journey. Having so much respect for that, and so much love for them, I haven’t written much about it… well, at all about it.

I said that to Mac one day – that I wasn’t writing about it because I understood it was their story to tell – and she pointed out that it is also very much a part of my story.

Because family.

Because mother.

There is a saying – no idea who actually said it, but I’ve heard it and shared it over time – that we are only as happy as our least happy child.

Oh, I can envision the eye-rolling some folks are trying to keep in check (or not), but the moms out there get it.

It’s not a literal thing. We are not exactly as sad, we don’t feel exactly the same things.

But when one of our children, including our adult children, is struggling… suffering… it is there.

It’s that thing in the periphery of our heart when we wake, just on the edge when our minds wander (or when they don’t).

Oh, it’s totally fair that some folks might want to – or need to, for whatever reason – chalk these feelings up to some sort of unhealthy psychological enmeshment. But guess what? It’s science.

Not ‘The’ science… which seems more akin to Political Science these days… but science. That old fashioned kind.

The kind that welcomes more and more questions.

The kind that beckons wonder.

A 2012 article in Scientific American wraps a remarkable study in everyday language.

The bottom line: We mothers are connected to our children at our cellular levels.

Not just through what we pass on to them along the genetic highway.

I mean that the cells of our children, the ones that pass to us via the placenta… cells once thought to have been vanquished by our immune systems pretty much on arrival… they stay.

In our tissues.

In our skin.

In our brains.

Scientists have found the cells of our children throughout our bodies.

As with so many study results, this tells us something we’ve already ‘known’ – in that magical way that mothers ‘just know’. We just hadn’t engaged the scientific method (or, like, microscopes and stuff) to arrive at the evidentiary doors of proof.

We carry our children with us.

They are, literally and figuratively, a part of us.

Their joys, their sorrows, their struggles, their triumphs… they are theirs to live with, and celebrate, and work through. But…

We feel them.

In one of the comments Mac got, on a vlog expisode where she openly shared her feelings about not yet having a child of her own, someone asked how her Mom felt about everything. What was… is… my perspective?

My words, I feel, cloaked my answer in Simple.

“I wish I could fix it.”

That is not remotely a simple answer.

When your child, and the man she loves (and whom you love), want a child with all their hearts, but unknown, infuriatingly vaporous obstacles are in their path…

When their future child – who will not only carry your genes, but will own your heart – can’t find its way here…

When your daughter’s emotions – the fear and the pain, along with the hope and the faith – are joined by the realities of physically and mentally taxing procedures and medicines and hormones and diagnostics not without impact or risks…

When you know she and her husband are so happy for friends and family who are announcing and/or welcoming their own children (because you are too), but you also know that joy can exist right alongside a gut wrenching yearning for the very second of their own rejoicing (because you yearn too, for them)…


This isn’t a playground bully situation.

Or a tough class.

Or job loss or friend loss or break up.

I can’t offer some great coaching advice or make a phone call or kick some little twerp’s arse (figuratively of course).

I can’t knock over a hurdle or break down a brick wall for her.

Yes, the whole ‘mama bear’ thing continues for their whole lives. I’ll be wanting to don my armor and call on my dragons when I’m 98 years old (hope the armor still fits, and the sword isn’t too heavy).

As with so many things medical, Mac and Jack are  – we are – at the mercy of others’ talents, hoping their knowledge and interest and creativity (and humanity) are enough to solve this riddle.

And, even then, I am very aware that so much of this lies beyond the science of man.

Luckily, I am one that believes in the magic.

And so, have found it (many times).**

But that, along with hope and faith in what is to be, is not a tangible ‘fix’ I can give to my daughter.

And that is agonizing to me, right down to my cells (well, mine and hers).

So I show up where I can, and sit with her even when I am not physically with her.

I wait with her…

With them.

And I smile at their dreams.

Which are, inexorably, a part of mine.

Because Science.

Thanks for readin’.

*Our daughter and first born (and all that comes with that (I am also a first born girl)), and her husband, who we refer to as our Half-Kid (though we love him tons, we don’t promote him to 3/4-Kid because he might get a fat head (and we can’t promote him to Full-Kid because two of our full kids couldn’t marry each other (duh)).

** Nod to Roald Dahl, and one of my favorite of his quotes, ‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’

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