Love and Learning To Surrender Go Hand In Hand

I was sitting on my friend’s couch a few weeks ago when she told me a story about one of her new-parent discoveries. 

She is a member of a club that she didn’t need to apply to, she said. She, along with her husband, have joined the ranks of parents who push babies in strollers at the middle of the night. Official name of club to be determined. 

They nod at passing parents as the clock gets closer to midnight and the reality of nights without sleep become more the norm than the exception. There’s safety in numbers, she implies, because 8 pounds, 11 ounces of baby is a Rubik’s cube no one can figure out. There’s comfort in knowing they aren’t the only ones afraid and reaching. 

I’ve sat on her couch a couple more times since and each time I hold her baby boy I think of how I’m struggling with surrender for the first time.

My last therapy session was a mix of “Can you use ‘surrender’ in a sentence?” and “Can you use ‘surrender’ in a sentence without punctuating it with sobs?” 

I couldn’t. I don’t think I’ll be able to for a while. 

The reality of surrender is a growing pain I’m in the middle of. It’s looking into deep brown eyes and trusting that his can’t be pushed away with my words and my becoming. It’s looking into the mirror and accepting that the girl looking back at me isn’t a figment of my imagination. She’s happy and trying. She’s aware and intentional. 

She’s me. 

Moments of growth usually come from relationships that try you, I’ve learned. When I rest a cheek on baby boy’s barely-there hair he adds perspective to the relationships that matter. He reminds me of what I want, grounds me in who I am and lets me talk through things. He squirms to find the perfect space between my arm and shoulder, all the while I’m holding him like the life raft and physical version of ‘surrender’ that he is.

He makes a fist with my t-shirt sleeve as he spits up on my shoulder and coos so I forget to punctuate run-on sentences and don’t give the spit up on my black shirt a second thought. 

With tiny little fingers he pulls me into the moment and into all that I can’t control but should still live in.

The need for self-reliance and the opposition to surrender go hand-in-hand. They’re coated in ego and a need to desperately prove that as an individual I can survive, that I am beyond…a lot. 

Except I’m not. 

My humanity wants to get tangled up with my need for surrender. I like diving under my boyfriend’s arm and inhaling his presence, his permanence. 

I like trusting in his permanence when phones are flying and words have left their home, in the same way that I trust it when songs are being played and lyrics are being swapped like love letters. 

It’s what I silently tell the little baby who has rested his head on my shoulder just long enough for me to notice, but not too long that I’ll take the moment for granted. He teaches me in a second what therapy sessions haven't been able to get me to.  

There’s no bigger surrender than learning to love with your hands up and your feet grounded in the present moment. 

What you learn about love and respect and the ever-changing definition of self-reliance, it all makes sense when you let shoulders drop and inhale the people around you.