“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I was watching my son today in the rear view mirror.

Don’t worry, I was STOPPED while I did it, not speeding down the highway obliviously captivated by my son and being a general road hazard.  I was sanely waiting for a red light to turn so I could get onto the highway.

Anyway, I was watching him in the rear view mirror, gazing contemplatively out the window, and I wonder what catches his notice and what he thinks of it all.  In the prevailing theory of infant development, it is believed that it takes some time after birth for the child to recognize itself as a being separate from its mother.  If I had to be completely honest, I think it takes even longer to recognize that your child is a being separate from yourself.   As babies, they feel so very much like an extension of your own being, formed from the cells of your very heart and containing a tiny piece of your soul.  It leaves you raw and exposed and supremely possessive.

But there is a day when it comes upon you suddenly that this little person is indeed a person.  Whole, independent, and possessing an inner life to which you will forever be excluded.  I watch the reflection of the external world pass across them and I wonder what he sees through those big dark eyes, wholly different from mine and completely his own.    I wonder what he sees and he thinks when he looks at me.  My relationship with my own mother has evolved to one that is so complex with mutual history, that I have forgotten what it was to see her with the eyes of a child.

The realization that he is not “mine”, not truly my flesh and blood, but possessed only of himself, comes with a mixture of intense pride and a horrible pang of loss.  He is Himself.  Hieronymus Gabriel.  Saddled with the weight of his maternal expectations, but forever seeing himself as something apart, something that can move away from that expectation and into his own future.   That is where children have the advantage in the parent-child relationship.  Parents never truly separate themselves from their children, and children will never understand the longing for that lost part of self, that burden of intense love that will remain a part of our lives forever.

Until they have their own and they will know it only in the rear view.

August 26th, 2009 at 10:29 am
7 Responses to “In the Rear View”
  1. 1
    Kat Says:

    It hurts to read this. I’m not ready to acknowledge it yet.

  2. 2
    OS Says:

    I held someone’s baby in my arms this past weekend and rested my nose on her little head and missed the babies that were mine once. It is hard when they go beyond that stage where you are 100% needed. Now I’m just hoping to stay wanted. There’s lots of fun in that still, thankfully. 🙂

  3. 3
    Gerbil Says:

    Yes, yes EXACTLY.

  4. 4
    Pinkpelican Says:

    Lyrically said.

  5. 5
    Deirdre Says:

    beautiful. Sad and oh so true. though of course I can’t experience it to quite the extent of a biological mother…..

  6. 6

    Saddle with the weight of maternal expectations, and that NAME.

  7. 7
    Maysun Says:

    You have so eloquently captured what I often feel — particularly liked: As babies, they feel so very much like an extension of your own being, formed from the cells of your very heart and containing a tiny piece of your soul.