I am ashamed to admit that it wasn’t until this weekend, when I finally had a few moments alone, that I logged online and learned about the extent of the disaster in Japan. We do not have cable, and we are rarely in the car, so NPR, which used to be my source for news, isn’t a regular part of my day anymore. I feel embarrassed at how out of touch I am, how wrapped up in “baby world” I have become.
There is something about having a tiny baby, so helpless and dependent, that makes me feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility. What if disaster were to strike close to home? I have no doubt that I would give my life without a second thought to protect my child, but what if I couldn’t save him? I think of the mothers in Japan who witnessed their children being swept away…and there was nothing they could do.
I hadn’t prepared myself for this side of motherhood. I believe it is called vulnerability. The world can seem like such a scary place when you have an infant in your care. I will never forget the first walk I took when I got home from the hospital. I was wearing my little one, just a few days old, in a sling, and walking with my mom to our local library, four blocks away from home. It was the scariest walk of my life. Every passing car seamed to pose a threat- what if they lost control at the wheel and veered onto the sidewalk? The bus that churned out thick black smoke seemed like a horrible disaster- what if that smoke made its way into my baby’s pure lungs? Every person that we passed was viewed with suspicion- what if they tried to snatch my baby from me?
For so much of our lives, we only have to worry about keeping ourselves safe. When you give birth, you are suddenly responsible for keeping someone else safe, and what a great responsibility that is. My solution to accepting this responsibility? I take a deep breath every morning before I walk into the nursery, and I remind myself that I am doing my best to keep him safe and out of harms way, and to show him that the world is not a scary place, but a beautiful place- and that is all that I can do.
My heart goes out to everyone in Japan… but especially the mothers. I can only imagine how painfully vulnerable they must feel as they try to keep their children safe.