I want both.
Last week, my baby had croup. For those of you that have experienced croup, it’s miserable. A virus that causes wheezing and gasping for breath. Between the doctor visits and sitting near a steamy shower, the most comforting position is being held upright, rocking and swaying, rocking and swaying.
And so, I did. I held my baby, rocking and swaying, rocking and swaying. All the while, lullabies playing, lights turned low, and images of stars and moons flashing across the ceiling—courtesy of a nightlight turtle that displays comets and shooting stars in purple, green and orange.
My little guy fluctuated between two different stretches.
Most often he would snuggle close to my heart, letting its beats hypnotically set the rhythm for his staggered breaths. He had one hand thrown over my neck, wet baby lips nuzzled into my skin. A burrowing infant knowing that his mother will protect and hold him close. And I wholeheartedly complied. For my deepest desire in life is to cocoon my child from harm.
But then he would switch positions. Hands stretched towards the ceiling, reaching for the unattainable stars and moons. As the colors switched, his eyes widened with curiosity and wonder. I could imagine him thinking, “Look at this masterpiece. How incredibly beautiful.” And I would look at him and smile, knowing that my other desire is for my child to unabashedly embrace this glorious, miraculous world.
I want both.
I want to shield my children from the horrors of the outside. The danger, the heartache, the sorrow, the unexplainable hurt that comes with being a human being.
I want my children to experience the entire world. The beauty, the joys, the celebration, the unexplainable bliss that comes with being a human being.
But I understand that one does not happen without the other. Our tradition reminds us, “After the moon sets and the stars set and the planets vanish, there is no darkness deeper than the hour before dawn. And in that hour, the Holy One answers the world and all that are in it: out of the darkness God brings forth the dawn and gives light to the world.”
It is through the darkness in which we appreciate the forthcoming light. And it is through memories of light in which we learn how to wander through the dark. We must let our children simultaneously know they are always welcomed close to our heart and as well, encouraged to reach out and experience all that life has to offer.
We need both.
For my children, I want both.