When I got the news that Frankie had arrived at last, I was in a training class on a particular method of couples’ therapy. The instructor had just been telling us of a study in which women were given small electrical shocks while they were in an MRI machine and then asked for a subjective rating of the level of pain and stress. In the first group, research subjects went through it alone. The second group held the hands of doctors or nurses during the procedure. The third group held the hands of their partners. The study found that the pain and stress was almost completely mitigated for the third group by the simple act of being connected to their partners while the experience was happening.
A major theme of the training was that emotional connection with loved ones is a tremendously healing force. I’ve witnessed its power many times during the era of aunthood that has been the past several years. Kids get hurt, either emotionally or physically, and the fact that someone is there for them makes it bearable. Something wonderful happens, and they reach out to share that too. Because we’ve been incredibly fortunate as a family, these kids generally have multiple someones available at both the good and bad moments. I’m honored to be one of those someones. As she grows, Frankie will be one more someone in that tribe, and this is a remarkable thing.
So, some promises to Frankie: I promise to celebrate the good with you and sit with you through the painful stuff. I promise to help you find your own unique way of doing that for other people. I promise to teach you everything I can about the world we live in, and to pay careful attention when you have things to teach me. I promise to remind your family that you really are a grown up when you are 22 and they are still referring to you as “the baby.”