Love and Pain

Lately, I’ve been thinking about pain and love. Mostly because M is nearly one and she got her first ear infection.  She has sought me a lot more for comfort understandably, and at her worst, she has desired to cry and fall asleep on me just like the days when she was a newborn. I did enjoy those tender moments albeit even if I did not get other things that I wanted to do done. It also made me appreciate the fact that because I’m at home with her, I could take care of her in this way.

"Snuggle sick time" with M and her singing abuelitos dolls

But taking her medicine has been part of the pain of her illness as well. It is nothing short of torture to get her to swallow it. And we have tried nearly everything - mixing it into applesauce, yogurt, pudding, condensed milk, giving her a cookie after, watching some Elmo on YouTube. I won’t describe the details. Suffice to say she is getting better.

M helping with the Halloween decorations
How is it she seeks me for comfort and then reels away from me in pain? It seems quite inexplicably human, natural, and so, writing fodder.  Here is an excerpt of a poem I’ve started and though it’s not near where I would like it to be, it’s good enough to express what I mean in this blog:

Pained, you cried yourself
asleep in my arms
when only moments before
you were wrenching your small body
to be free from me
and the vial of medicine I held
and so you’ve learned
to associate pain with love,
love with pain. Am I preparing
you then for this world?

I can hear the echo of Anne Sexton’s unbelievably beautiful and haunting poem “Pain for My Daughter” which first appeared in the March 26, 1966 edition of the New Yorker. The ending takes my breath away every time I read it!

And isn’t this association between pain and love present in the work of a writer (or I imagine for any artist)? It is pain and love to write. It is pain and love to mother. While it centers me and helps me to make sense of the world and of humanity, it is painful when the words do not come, or sometimes worse when they do, and they are insufficient. 

Anker, Albert, Rosa and Bertha Gugger, 1883
This painting reminds how I was able to read a few articles in The Atlantic on my phone while M slept on me.  

Pain and love, love and pain. To write or not. I would not be myself otherwise.


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