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Tiger, Tiger

Posted Feb 17 2009 12:00am


Comparing oneself to a tiger is trite stuff, but I'm going to do it. I am a tiger and not the sexy kind. This morning, Sophie woke up and had her usual bout of seizures. I felt angry about it, really angry. Ferocious, actually. I've yelled and screamed before, even while Sophie has been seizing. I'm always alone, of course, wild and free. It doesn't feel good at all, though, this unfettered energy. It's not a release. It's as if I'm a beast, a woman with only primitive urges. I hate the way I feel afterward. Sorry and ashamed in all my humanity.

I've been rereading Barbara Gill's Changed by a Child - Companion Notes for Parents of a Child with a Disability, and wouldn't you know I'd open it to this page:

Tiger Mothers

...We hear, see and feel things others don't even notice. Our experience -- with its pain, vigilance, and hard work -- has heightened our senses when it comes to our child. It is as if we have developed extra nerve endings. We are tiger mothers -- ever watchful, ever ready -- tireless to protect, provide, defend.
Sometimes we sense that others are wary of us. They feel -- and fear -- the great power within us, the fire burning in our eyes. We are tuned in to something extra, something they don't hear.


You might think that I'm proud of or happy to be a tiger. And I think most mothers have it in them to be tigers -- whether it's ever unleashed or not is beside the point. But what struck me about that passage was the sentence "Sometimes we sense that others are wary of us. They feel -- and fear -- the great power within us, the fire burning in our eyes." I am sad, sometimes, that I have become this tiger because in becoming full of fire and strength I have lost someone else. I am out of balance, my yin overcome by yang.

My fears and worries about Sophie are eclipsed by love, though, and this love is unreasonable, in a way. It's unreasonable to experience these things for over thirteen years, so unreasonable that it must be love that carries me forward.

I studied William Blake, the poet, in college and learned a lot about him from a dear person I knew a long time ago. But to round out the tiger cliche, I find it fitting to include Blake's famous poem here:

Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile His work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
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