Laying aside the fact that this self-perception may just be erroneous, no one could be more surprised than I at the tide of parental ferocity which has arisen in me since my daughter was born!
Her first bath was administered by a nurse who had been working in pediatrics since the 70's and had a suitably casual approach. As my daughter squirmed and moaned under the warmer, this woman scrubbed mercilessly at the buildup of birth, informed us that babies don't like their backs touched and proceeded to rub our baby's, and actually combed my baby's hair into a kewpie curl! Though dazed from birth and unable to stand long enough to get dressed, I considered leaping from my bed and throttling the woman. (I must add that my opinion of her modulated to complete gratefulness as she proved herself remarkably thoughtful to all of us over the course of the day... some angels come in abrasive packages.)
We've endeavored to keep our little girl sequestered from the germs of the world for the past two weeks in what now seems a doomed attempt to let her immune system begin its work without interference. Only the grandparents have had the privilege of holding her small bulk, kissing her perfect face, and laughing over the impossible facial expressions with which she gifts the world.
Finally allowing some treasured family to come to visit yesterday, we ascertained that everyone was health, had been healthy, and showed no signs of declining health. The visit was wonderful.
And last night they all came down with the flu.
Turns out they had spent some time over the weekend with some friends who had been battling the stomach bug, and these friends neglected to mention that fact.
May I say, I'm livid? We won't know for a few days if our two-week-old infant will succumb to the germs, so while we live in suspense let me attempt to govern my heart into some semblance of forgiveness. The tide of bitterness rising within me as I realize that my child's health has been compromised threatens to overcome me. I want to make a furious phone call, I want to publish the ignominy from the rooftops.
Why does this so enrage me? I think it's simple: my daughter's physical and emotional well-being are my husband's and my responsibility right now. We are the gatekeepers. And our gates have been breached.
I ruefully acknowledge that I cannot protect little E. from everything in the world. I can't guarantee that she'll never be sick, that she'll never have her heart disregarded, that she'll never make a mistake. I am fallible. As a passionate parent I have limitations. I am not omniscient nor am I all-powerful.
But I will do my best to protect her, and when my protection fails I will comfort her. And I will not hesitate to speak in her defense until she can speak for herself. The parental ferocity which has so suddenly arisen within me has a purpose!
What about you? If you're a parent, do you find yourself feeling the same way? If not, what do you think about parental ferocity?