Fierce Love

The Logical Heart Knows Best

She was so weak with fever that she could barely stand. She held her infant daughter on her hip, her baby a new lively appendage, ah new motherhood. She was counting the seconds until her husband got home from work. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to care for her daughter. She felt on the verge of collapsing and wracked her brain trying to see who she might call for help. There was no one. Everyone was working, and this was in pre-cell phone days.

She thought of her in-laws, but they lived a city away and besides, they were retired. Their child-rearing duties behind them, golf, crocheting, and household chores were now a top priority. She was thankful for the days when they babysat and she could run errands without the baby. It was the only time she had to herself. Otherwise, it was working full time and all of her spare time was with her little cute, adorable, precious but demanding baby appendage.

Next, she considered her neighbors, but she didn’t know them very well. They’d only just moved there before the baby was born. They bought the house to prepare for the new family they were creating. She rapidly scrolled through the people she could count on, her parents, siblings, friends? No one was available. She was stranded.

She knew having a baby was life-changing, but nothing could prepare her for how grueling it could be. She kept wondering if she was ill-equipped, weak, or incompetent because she remained frazzled and exhausted. How do people do this and work full time too? When she was at work, pumping her breasts on her break in what she jokingly called, “The Barn,” all she could think of is how much she missed her baby and hoping she and the father were managing okay without her. Then, when she was at home with the baby, she wished she could have a few seconds of alone time, pee by herself, eat a full actual meal by herself or bathe by herself. She was working 24/7.

She learned to surrender, to focus on the simple things we take for granted, like sleeping, eating, pooping, and having time for ourselves. A baby in the midst stripped away all the time she took for granted, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She loved that giggling appendage and her brother who came later, more than anything she’d ever known before or since. That needy little one opened her to the truth about life itself. She loved in deep, vast, unspeakable ways and saw her own value through the eyes of her child. She also suddenly knew that she had once been a sweet, precious, innocent, vulnerable, perfect, beautiful child herself and saw herself in a more loving, compassionate, approving way that she’d not had access to before.

It stripped her down to the naked truth of unbridled love, oneness, and being in the moment because there was that little one who needed her undivided attention and nurturing. When she was with the beautiful baby, all the frivolities, clutter, complications, and busyness of life were meaningless distractions from what was real, true, and mattered most. Yet she still had her own personal needs and health to tend to. She needed nurturing and support which she’d eventually learn to create for herself. At the time, though, it was tough.

She had to learn to let go of accomplishing the things she was used to, that she enjoyed. She had to give up control because there was no way to keep everything as neat and orderly as before. She had to let things slide for self-preservation. She tried to enlist more help and enforce more boundaries, but she had little energetic and emotional reserves to advocate for herself, so she did her best, and that had to be enough.

She saw her needs were not prioritized by anyone else and if she were to be free of anger and resentment, she’d have to fend for herself and learned to lower her expectations, accepting that this was her fate at the moment, but all the while her eyes were opening to facts she’d denied and ignore before. Now that there were higher stakes with a family, she was taking note, laying the foundation for her future. She was gaining newfound clarity in all aspects of life because of the demands of being a mother. Her whole worldview shifted and crystallized for the better.

She knew her worth and valued herself in ways she had never done before. She had a precious life depending on her. She had to grow and stretch as she never had. She found purpose and meaning and knew she had to do right by herself to be the best parent possible. She found inner reserves that had been tossed away, dormant, wasted on mindless pursuits like partying, learning makeup tips, trying to be more attractive, to impress others, wasting money on buying music, clothes, and going out, doing nothing, and watching TV, all that free time she had before was frittered away on nothingness. Now her time was filled to the brim and overflowing with beauty, tenderness, sweetness, and light with the baby.

But she was sick, feverish, and desperate for help. She felt abandoned, vulnerable and so alone in those moments, not knowing if she’d be able to make it until her husband got home. She kept checking the time. It was just a few more minutes. He should be home soon. She couldn’t stand anymore and sat on the ground with the baby still on her hip. She needed to sit for a minute or pass out.

This can’t be right? How did humans survive? This modern-day way of living feeds mothers to the wolves, she thought. She needed more help but didn’t see any way to get it. She gazed lovingly into those clear blue intelligent eyes and kissed her baby on the forehead, the fuzzy downy hair tickling her nose. She inhaled that sweet squishy baby scent, pressed her cheek to the plump baby cheek, and was filled with gratitude. She can do it. She loved this little creature so fiercely that she would always prevail in caring for her, come what may. It was decided.

The front door opened. Daddy was home. Yay! What a relief. She hurriedly said, “Please, I’m so sick, I can barely stand, I have a fever and was so scared I wouldn’t be able to care for the baby, but there was no way to get in touch with you, I’ve been waiting for you to come home.”

He said matter-of-factly, “I’ve got to do some yard work here first and then I’ll be in. You’ll be able to make it, right?”

The blood rushed into her ears, throbbing, and everything seemed far away. Her heart felt like it had been drop-kicked. She feebly nodded as the tears silently fell. He promptly exited the way he came.

She filed it away for later.

For many years during the divorce and after, that memory among countless others would bubble up. She tried to tell herself to let it go already. She didn’t want those thoughts intruding on her now. Over time, they became mere whispers, and she grew to appreciate them. They were like scars or battle wounds, reminders of what she overcame, learned from, and survived. A wiser, stronger version of herself bore them. Gentle reminders to show her how far she’d traveled and striking contrasts to make her appreciate her current life all the more. When those memories stir, she views them as if they’re from another lifetime. They can’t hurt her anymore.

She never feels alone or abandoned anymore. She’s learned that she’s always enough and knows how to make loving changes in advocacy of herself where she gives and receives in fairly equal measure. She attributes this valuable knowledge she’s gained to motherhood. In giving birth, she also had a rebirth of herself.

Michelle Miyagi
Hi! I was an RN, BSN in mental/behavioral health for 27 years. Now I'm helping empower caring people like me to prioritize themselves by maintaining healthier boundaries for more freedom, peace, and joy. I am also active in Long Covid advocacy.

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