My heart walks outside my body.
For years, my friend Jackie has shared this quote, credited to Elizabeth Stone:
“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”
And I thought I understood that sentiment before I had Audrey. I really, really did. When bad things happened to other kids, I felt sorrow and regret and anger and all of the appropriate feelings at the appropriate levels.
But loving someone more than yourself; knowing that you would gladly suffer all of the pains and tortures of the world if it meant saving that person from even a moment’s worry…it’s closer to pain than love. It’s a ripping, visceral, unending struggle that is, by nature, not appropriate.
Every time I drop Audrey off at daycare, I linger over the goodbye kiss. I squeeze her until she says “enufffff mama I go to school now” and then I say a silent prayer on my walk to the car, only really letting my breath go when I pick her up at the end of the day.
Every time I put Audrey to bed, I linger over the goodnight kiss. I brush her hair off her forehead and say “I love you more!” back and forth until she finally gives up and rolls over. I say it last, every time.
I know that this is the job. And I know that parents across the world feel just as I do. But it’s hard, so hard, to know that despite my best efforts, there are things outside of my control. All I can do is squeeze and hug and sing and tell her every single day that she is my heart.
And my heart walks.