I remember when Elliot was small and I would have lunch once a week with my sisters and my mom (Why didn't I revere those days as golden?). I was probably hovering, fussing, helicoptering over that little boy all over the place. I remember my mom smirking at me and saying, "You should have another baby."
My reaction was to try to be offended. I didn't, still don't, like being given unsolicited advice. I grew up with two parents and a truckload of siblings and they often told me what I should or should not be doing. It was not easy. But I knew that day at lunch she was being subtle, letting me know I needed to relax, and that another baby would force me to do that.
The thing is, when you have a baby, and that baby is your first baby, and then that baby dies, you learn how much of life is out of your control. You, if you're me, become a freak for control. I had sat powerless for so many hours, holding my baby girl's hand while she endured pain because I couldn't do anything else for her. I could not stop any of it. It was awful. Controlling every possible circumstance after that was a way of showing the universe that Ha! You didn't get the best of me this time.
So I had taken this big leap already in having another baby. The baby was Elliot, he was here, he was healthy. I was terrified of that being taken away. I was terrified of him being hurt, or sad, or whatever. And I knew my mom was right. I needed, I wanted to have another baby.
Fast forward to last week, a conversation about protective parenting and how there's too much. I feel for children who get no free time because they are rushed to too many practices and lessons. I feel for kids who don't get to think for themselves, whose parents are one step behind every stride they try to make. I want my kids to feel confident, to be brave, to make their own sandwiches, beds, and decisions. I want them all to ride down hills on their bikes, jump freely into water and swim, and walk to a friend's house or home from school.
Of course, to gain confidence they will get hurt. A lot of somethings will happen. I will hold their hands, feel their hurt, and be powerless to take it away. But they will be better for it, and so will I.