13 May 2011


My friend Cecelia told me a story years ago about going to see a soccer game in the Dominican Republic.  It was a night game and they used huge floodlights to illuminate the stadium which attracted thousands of grasshoppers.  The light made them frantic so you had to sit there with all of these fat green bugs bouncing around, kinetic as rubberbands. 

She was horrified. Normally one grasshopper landing on her would have freaked her out, and here she was being pelted with dozens of them, as was everyone else.  The Dominicans would just grab them and throw them off without noticing because they were too focused on enjoying the soccer game. Cecelia had a moment where she realized that she could either panic and manically fight off every kamakaze insect or she could try to focus on the soccer as much as possible and on the bugs as little as possible, but either way she was stuck there for the duration of the game.

Speaking with a woman at Bellevue the other day prompted me to remember this story. I was telling her about how hard everything was and how I felt trapped by the schedule and how stressed out I was about the future and what we were going to do if I ever wanted to go back to work or take a trip or buy a house or save money because I couldn't even figure out quite how I was going to survive next week!

She said something that I brushed off initially but has been brining in my brain for the past few days and has fermented into a nugget of clarity, a pickled egg of sanity if you will. She said that aside from all of Lula's many problems, and even aside from having 2 babies, twins even, being a parent is really, really hard.  That's it.

I realized that I have been attributing all of my stress, anguish, and strife to Lula's medical problems and delays with the misguided belief that if we could make her better that being a parent wouldn't feel so completely overwhelming, relentless, and daunting.  Bullshit!

If I could somehow make Lula perfectly healthy tomorrow these feelings would not go away.  I would still feel utterly suffocated by my new life and mourn the days when I could go for bike rides with friends, cook meals, have hobbies, take pictures, travel, even walk out of the house unaccompanied.  Remember how annoyed you were when you were a kid that you couldn't go anywhere by yourself without some adult monitoring you?  It's the exact same feeling for the parent. I know this is so cliche but I am kind of in mourning for my old life.

Realizing that my every bad thought and feeling does not rest on the dainty little shoulders of my baby girl is a huge relief.  For one it's not fair to her.  She is doing the best she can.  It's also not fair to me. I am doing the best I can but I am just going to have to accept this shitstorm as my life for a while and not fight the current like some manic OCD salmon on steroids.  And hopefully if I can accept some of it I can give myself more space to find the happiness in my new life.

So the moral of the story is this:  Life continually smacks you in the face with giant grasshoppers but if you pay them too much attention you will miss enjoying the game. How's that for a metaphor?

1 comment:

  1. I like it! I like it a lot!
    It reminds me of when I was at an ashram in India, and we practiced yoga on a big floor of dried cow dung. During the final relaxation, ants would crawl on us. At first it drove me nuts, but then I began to repeat to myself like a mantra, "I am one with the earth, ants crawl on the earth", and that made it not so bad. And along the same lines as your metaphor?
    Thank you (and Cecelia) for making me remember that!