Growing pains and psychological stretch marks

April 11th, 2011 § 5 comments

The months and years go by. Like all of you I mourn the quick passage of time. “Where did the fall/winter/year go?” I hear my friends asking.

Projects we hoped would be accomplished — tasks we hoped would be done — sit unfinished. Organizing photos, cleaning out a closet or a room, reading that book a friend recommended; many things went undone in the dark and cold months of winter.

Maybe there were emergencies, maybe there were health issues, maybe you just couldn’t get the energy together to accomplish everything you wanted.

Regardless the reason, there can be a bit of disappointment when a season ends.

Growth happens in fits and spurts, not with smooth, sliding grace.

With each phase comes

At the time of my mastectomies the reconstructive surgeon placed tissue expanders in my chest. These were temporary bags of saline that would be slowly filled to stretch out my skin to make room for the silicone implants that would eventually take their place. Each week, like clockwork, I returned to my surgeon’s office. He accessed a port in each expander with a needle and added saline to each side. Each time after a “fill” my chest would feel tight. The skin wasn’t big enough for the volume inside, and it would react to the increased pressure by stretching. Until the skin could replicate there was achiness, tightness, a slight ripping or tearing feeling.

A similar sensation happened to me during my pregnancies. The growth happened fast; I got stretch marks. I had visible proof my skin just couldn’t keep up; the growth was too rapid, too harsh, too vigorous.

I often wonder if mothers and fathers get psychological stretch marks when we are asked to accommodate changes we’re not quite ready for.

What can we do? What options do we have? None. We must “go with the flow” and do the best we can. Our children grow and change whether we like it or not. We do them no favors by trying to protect them, coddle them, and keep them young.

We give them wings to fly when we give them tools to be
and caring
and inquisitive
and trusting

I am often moved to tears as I watch my children grow.

I sit in wonder at the succession of infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

I know that as a mother I lack many skills, but I also know that the words I have written in my blogs and essays will one day be a gift to them too.

Not a gift to the children that they are, but instead a gift to the adults that I am raising them to be.

Each August as they go back to school I marvel that another school year has passed and yet another is here.

No matter how you measure time it always goes too fast.

The growth happens too fast.
The growing pains hurt.
The stretch marks might be invisible, but they are surely there.

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§ 5 Responses to Growing pains and psychological stretch marks"

  • Alexandra says:

    Thoughts like this wake me up, too.

    How I didn’t recognize the deliciousness of the days when they were so little.

    Why I didn’t know.

    Makes me so sad.

  • Lindsey says:

    There are tears splashing on my desk. First, because we are clearly kindred spirits – I’ve written before of the pregnancy growth and of how I worried my body could literally not contain the body of my baby, and of how sometimes my feelings feel like that – so big, so overwhelming, I can’t stretch fast enough to accommodate them.
    And just … yes. You put it all so poetically and beautifully.

  • Erika Robuck says:

    What a sad and beautiful truth you’ve found with these emotional stretch marks.

    I remember a friend told me on my wedding day to creep out of the action, stand alone in a dark corner, and watch the action for thirty seconds. She said it would impress the day more on mind than any video or photo album. She was right, and I return to that spot in my memory and remember the immeasurable love I felt for all of the people in that room right then, the great excitement I had about the years to come, and of course, that small pang of sadness for what had passed.

    I try to do that now with my children and in my life as often as I can.

    Lovely post, as always.

  • Mike says:

    Marvelous. A wonderful concept- emotional stretch marks- that I will never forget. Bravo.

  • […] Growing pains and psychological stretch marks – At the time of my mastectomies the reconstructive surgeon placed tissue expanders in my chest. These were temporary bags of … The growth happens too fast. The growing pains hurt. The stretch marks might be invisible, but they are … […]

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