Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Endearing or Convoluted?

"A mother is only as happy as her saddest child."
-A line from the movie "Loving Leah".


When I first heard this quote, instantly I was overcome by an estrogen overdose. I wanted to burst into tears, run upstairs, jar my girls from sleep, and smother them in warm embraces. The sentiment seems timeless and endearing, because from the moment they were born, my whole life has been committed to ensuring their happiness. However, after a little sleep and some sober thinking, it occurred to me that a relationship characterized by such interconnectedness is doomed from the onset.

Sure, the truth embodied in this view does not seem like such an imposition when suppressed by a weighty maternal overtone. What mother wouldn't find some comfort in easing a child's anguish. Yet, the whole idea of my joy so closely tied into my child's well being seems charming only when nursing a sick toddler. I do feel fulfilled when I can meet a need that they can't meet for themselves.

However, at some point children grow older; life happens to them. What happens when my influence over their lives begins to shrink considerably? At what point does this pressing practice of wanting to fix a hurt child turn into a tangled web of co-dependence?

2 comments:

The Reverend's Lover said...

I agree with you - risk, filure, pain & saddness are all required ingredients for building character.

I think that quote plays in to the guilt and fear of every mother!! I run from that notion.

Alli said...

Agreed! Although mothers' emotions are often tied to their children, it is unhealthy to be that co-dependent. Women who live that mantra are basically holding their children RESPONSIBLE for their happiness--Not fair to the child. And it is especially painful to watch in families where one child has died and another is still alive. Those parents can't experience the joy of the living child because they are too focused on the child they lost.

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