Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The nature of Helplessness

I think one of the hardest parts of becoming a parent is a prevailing sense of losing power over your life. Everything you do is dictated by this new small person, and any parent of a toddler can tell you they are in fact tiny dictators in adorable, often jelly covered, outfits.

While it seems backwards, they are in fact, the ones who tell you when you can eat, sleep, bathe, socialize, even use the bathroom. They control what you can do and when, where you can and cannot go. Most of this fact is eased by the knowledge that this is in dedications to your little ones needs. They are now numero uno in your life, their needs come first, and that includes things like privacy and clean clothes.

But sometimes things around you also steal away your power. We by our very nature feel secure when we have some sort of control, and when we lose that it throws off entirely off kilter.

I have just waded through the perfect storm of losing control.

It began with our car dying. Just caput-dead. To be fair to the old boy, it was a 13 year old sedan with the muffler bungee corded on. But none the less, it died and this was a major issue. Now, we've just been informed we are inheriting a sum of money from my amazing grandfather, so lo, we have money for a used car. But we had big plans for that money, plans that included paying off our two most stressful debts and taking a night away. But now the car needs that money, the choice has been removed from us. Those debts will go unpaid, and I feel like a precious gift of well being has been snatched from my hands.

The same evening the car died we had a storm, and the wind knocked a nest of baby birds into our chimney and down the wood stove pipe. Over the course of two days  the baby birds slid one by one from the stuck nest into range for us to be able to get them with a make shift net, up to our shoulders in the wood stove and pipe filled with pointy screws. They were fledglings, so all the experts said they should go back outside where the parents could find them. So after the toddler got a chance to view and make fawning noises, the four baby birds (it had seemed every time we rescued one there was another behind it) we placed them in the tall grass next to the house. After night one, one bird disappeared. I have tried to help baby birds before, bunnies too, and the truth is they are so very fragile that there are far more sad stories than happy ones, and so I expected such an ending to this one despite the victories of getting them out of the pipe.

But finding a second one had died this morning was far more crushing than it should have been. But knowledge like the fact that they are so fragile, and that at least they hadn't died in that awful pipe, are not much consolation when you see that tiny life snuffed and knowing there was nothing more you could have done. The mother in you fights it. You constantly wonder if there was something you might have done. You cry for them after you son goes to sleep, having told him the babies had gone back to their mom and dad and were fine.

Those little birds were just the last thing in a long list of things that you were powerless to help. The birds. The car. The debt. The toddler determined to injure himself by throwing himself off every available climbable thing in your house after running behind you undoing all of your cleaning. The depression.

So tonight I am crying for losing sight of land in the sea of stress. And for baby birds I wanted nothing more than to save from dying in the dark.