"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Saturday, July 7, 2012

bravery: nurture...and nature

It was a difficult night. Nights for the last two weeks have been difficult. Molly is hitting that same stage that her brothers did (and 10 and 6 months, respectively)...the point at which I wake up open my eyes in the morning after a sleepless, baby-attached-to-the-boob-all-night night and say to Sam, "It's time to let her cry."

I'm not pro-Crying-it-Out. Who's all for letting their child scream and howl in misery? But, I am all for the Put The Oxygen Mask on Yourself Before Assisting Your Child philosophy of child-rearing. When  Molly is in my arms all evening, attached to me all night, and refusing to nap unless in the BabyErgo or on my chest all day, I'm not a very involved, entertaining, or patient Mommy. I'm more a Mommy of the "Can I please just have FIVE MINUTES to MYSELF to drink this [fourth] cup of COFFEE?!" variety. It's not pretty. And, experience has taught me that CIO does work for my kids. (More so for Max than Evan, but even for Evan, and even at ten months, it didn't take long for him to figure out how to sleep on his own after we let him cry. And the fact that we have a Max is proof of that. Sorry, Dad...TMI?)

But, as seems always to be the case, the timing is not right to let Molly Cry it Out now. We leave for Montana (my brother's getting married!! YAY!!!) in ten days. I know that our Montana schedule will be all over the place with bedtimes shifted (much) later and all of us sleeping in one room. So, there's no reason to let her cry now if we'll probably have to start over again when we return. We'll manage as best as we can for the next few weeks, then I'll put on my Big Girl Earplugs, turn a movie on for the boys, and let her work out those lungs. And boy, don't we know she has 'em...Baby Girl still hates the car....

....So, anyway...it was another night of little sleep. Sam brought the kids down when they woke up at 6:30 and let me stay in bed. By 7:15 I was up, of course, and went downstairs to pour my first of several giant cups of coffee for the day. "Why don't you drink it on the porch?" Sam suggested, "It's not hot...yet." And sit on the porch we did...me with my coffee, Sam with Molly, Max with the computer, and Evan with his tool belt.

And that's where we had our little Real Life Science Lesson of the day...
A small flying insect was flittering around us when all of a sudden, it got caught in a spider web in the corner between the roof and the porch post directly in front of us. The insect fluttered and squirmed for a few minutes and then went absolutely still. Instantly, a large (by my account) spider appeared in the corner of the web, seemingly from out of nowhere. Faster than I'd like to think spiders can move, it made it's way across the web and over to the insect. It proceeded to wrap the insect in silk, spinning the larger creature with several of its too-many legs as it did. When it was finished, it clipped the insect-mummy free from its web and dragged it back to its hiding place in the corner.

Those of you who know me well...or even just a little...know that I have a small fear of spiders. So small that I'm getting goosebumps and I feel itchy and sweaty just typing the word spider. So small that one time, in college, I called a friend of mine over to my house JUST to kill a spider for me because I was home alone. He ended up being late for his basketball game because of his bravery and valor, but it was definitely appreciated. So small that another time, my friend nonchalantly jumped out of her chair, swinging her arms wildly in my face to swat away a spider before I saw it. I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time and she was sure that a spider landing on my shoulder would put me into labor. It probably would have. Instead, we both wound up jumping and shrieking while swatting at each other in my driveway. Our kids and neighbors thought we were nuts. We are.

So watching this natural hunting display this morning was, for me, like watching a horror show. But real. And right in front of my face. And ON MY FRONT PORCH. I couldn't tear my eyes away. "Don't worry, Mom," Evan reassured, "it's just how nature works." He patted me on the shoulder and wondered, "Are there any spiders big enough to eat birds?" "There are. They're called Bird Spiders. They're as big as my hand," I said, as a chill went down my spine and I felt my chest tightening. "Well, if you ever saw one, you could just call me and I'll smash it for you."  "Thanks, buddy...but if I ever saw one, I think I'd scream as loud as I could and run away as fast as I could before I could call you to the rescue." "I'll just stay right by you then, in case one ever comes." My knight in shining armor.

Lesson Learned:
Sometimes, many times actually, as a Mom, you need to pretend to be a lot braver than you think you are...whether facing a phobia for the education of your kids or choosing to let your heart be broken in the short term for the pay-off for your child in the long term...you muster the courage (even if it's faked) and you get through it. And then, hopefully, you'll see that you had it in you to be brave all along...and you'll be more ready when you need to call upon it the next time. And....the only thing in the whole wide world worse than spiders, is listening to your baby cry. We'll all be brave.

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