The Wonder That Keeps The Stars Apart

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I am now so madly in love with Abraham that my heart hurts with the bright intensity of it.  I would die for him without second thought, do anything to keep him safe and protect him from unnecessary suffering. He is four months tomorrow. When someone asked me how motherhood is on Friday evening, I said “Amazing.” It was the first time I hadn’t answered that question by saying “Hard. Beautiful, hard, beautiful,” where quite honestly the beautiful was a bit of a stretch.

Abraham has an astounding amount of charisma for his age. He just holds your eyes with presence and joy. There is life bursting from every pore of him. When he is in distress and cries, his whole body gets engaged, clenching and trembling. When he is scared or startled, which doesn’t happen often, his eyes get wide and his lower lip trembles and my heart breaks open.

He seems to have a very resilient character, able to regulate back to emotional equilibrium very quickly. For instance: This morning he was on his back on the bed, and I pulled him towards me by pulling his lower legs. He registered alarm. Then he saw I was calm, and he calmed down immediately. I am grateful beyond words he has this innate skill, and not my habit of reacting with alarm to new things and experiences. We can take him in the shower and he tolerates it – even the water spraying his face and droplets getting in his eyes. To use Anne Lamott’s line, I like this in a baby.

He found his toes two nights ago. It was abrupt and life changing for him. One hour he didn’t reach his toes and the next he did, and now his go-to activity is lying on his back, holding his toes and making this adorable scratchy grunting noise like he’s doing his ab work out. Yotam says Abraham is frustrated the toes don’t reach his mouth yet, and I think that’s really plausible since his job in life is to get everything into his mouth.

His thighs are soft and full and fat with my milk.

I am in awe of him, and I sense God in him tangibly, like right there, just beneath his skin, is the force that started the universe. E.e. Cummings talks of love as the wonder that holds the stars apart…In physics there is strong magnetic force, weak magnetic force, gravity… and I want to add to the list whatever this is that I feel for Abraham.

In The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, the villains open up doorways into other worlds using the energy released when children are forcibly separated from their daemons, which are external animal souls. The energy that lives in the bond I have with Abraham feels like it could break open a new world if it was severed. I am having the funny grandiose thoughts that no mother has ever loved her son this way – but of course I know that all, or most, mothers have, and that makes the suffering of children essentially unbearable to me now. It is devastating to hold off nursing him when he wants to eat in the middle of the night and we are teaching his body not to. The thought of a child crying in hunger and a parent not having enough to feed them… My God. It makes me question the entire premise of creation. What was God thinking? How is anything worth that pain?

My empathy sensors used to pick up the suffering of animals and the earth and not so much broader humanity, but now I’m also feeling into humanity, especially children, and I can barely stand it. This makes sense, since becoming a parent necessitates a blurring of our ego’s boundaries in order to skillfully attune to the needs of our preverbal potato of a tiny human. The question of what is Me and Not Me changes - not just for those of us who literally grew a new human inside our bodies, but for anyone who has let their heart be broken open by love.

In my case, with my ego fuzzy around the edges in order to attune to Abraham, information about the needs of others is also coming in. Refugees, those in deep poverty, babies without stable adults to love them, hungry kids here and around the world. I remember a session I did once with an EMDR therapist, in which I told her how much I hurt when I felt the suffering of the world. “We are all One,” I said. “I’ve been taught that my whole life, and I feel it and can’t stop how much it hurts.” She looked at me and said, “Shoshana, I know that on one level we are all one. But if God had wanted us to all actually be one, in our daily lives, we wouldn’t be in separate bodies.”

Good point.

But it still hurts, having a heart blown open so wide.

The beauty of the connection between me and my baby, between all of us and those we love most, is that it connects us to the great, deep, awesome and abiding Love with a capital L. Without trying, all the hurt in my heart flows in and out of also being rapturous joy. For instance, tonight when Abraham fussed a bit I went in, put my hand on his chest and shushed gently. He put his palm over mine, and I wanted to stand there for the next hour with my fingers pressed between his warm chest and tiny star of a hand.