My children are still relatively “little,” at least that is what I continue to tell myself, to keep my heart intact. Although much of their current time in the nest is spent turning my hair into strands of sparkling silver, my heart aches at the thought of them leaving the nest. A time that will come all too soon.
Let’s all take a moment of reverence for the golden, glitter coated, double edge sword of motherhood. Classifying them as little has not eliminated the challenges that have come my way in terms of mothering my children. The host of hurdles have often been so close to one another in proximity, that it seems there is no physical way to jump them all. physics, which I was never any good at, seems an impossibility. Where will my legs even go if i jump? Surely they will just crash, bruising the shin bone, as these barricades continue in my lane as far as I can see.
I have four children and each of them has had their handful of hurdles. They have come in the form of auto-immune disease, anxiety, severe food allergies, autism, dyslexia, specific learning disability, depression, central auditory processing disorder, mood disorder and ADHD. The track has been lines with the logistics of many hours of appointments, screenings, and tests. Each stride an eternity of waiting for results, adjusting the plan, holding on and hoping. If I close my eyes I can see inflated prescription pill bottles, taunting me like that weird stick figure that waves in front of car dealerships, filling with air and then falling to the ground, over and over, trial and error. I can see waiting rooms and the odometer of our mini van hit 100,000 miles on yet another long trek to a specialist. I see the speciality formula cans and juices boxes stacked to make the frame of a million dollar house that could be destroyed with a slight breeze. I can feel the fabric of the chair in the therapists office, envision the pattern of the flowers, poppies and daisies, red and white. Could a year be calculated in the number of minutes spent trying to figure out how to live the life that was handed to you?
The saying goes that the days are long and the years are short. I guess it would be fair to say that the past thirteen years of mothering have been both. But more than long or short, they have been a slow ripping and sewing, patching and re-patching of my heart. Watching these little people be swallowed whole by emotions so big, engulfing in the feeling like a tidal wave, has broken my heart time and time again. There have been fits of rage, shaking fists at the sky, asking not why me, but why them? Why must we all suffer through this plan, what is there to gain? What will be the result of all of the turmoil? After all, they were so little, are too little, to handle these cards they have been dealt. Each diagnosis stacked on top of one another, imbedded into the wiring of who they are, who they are becoming. All the disorders entangled like the wires of a live bomb and I, their mother, having no training on how to disarm it. Like a neuroma, their high emotions a fiery ball of nerves that are known to send shooting pain through the body with one misstep. I begin mothering on tip-toes, careful of the landmines my children have become.
Just a few days ago, while sitting at the dinner table, my son asked a question for the first time, his voice a braided combination of curiosity, frustration and anger. “Mom, why did you make me go to kindergarten two times? Because of my dumb brain? I wasn’t smart enough?” To know we have left the safe haven of acceptance and entered into the wild wonder of the wounded is heartbreaking. Hearing my daughter say she hates herself and that she doesn’t understand why God made her this way. “Why did He have to make it harder for me? I don’t want to be this way.” Her desperate pleas ripping the lining of my heart like wet tissue paper. As I write this and relive it, my eyes are pooling but I can’t recall the exact words I used to respond in these moments. I remind them they are unique and insightful, sensitive and effervescent, bold and brilliant. I hug them and love them and assure them they aren’t in need of fixing. But even still my heart breaks, daily.
Mothering, to me, has become the ritual by which I thread a needle with fibers made up of their names, and gentle pull the tender muscle back together, stitch by stitch. Each handcrafted seam a ceremony of sorts, every pang of the point an effort to mend their questioning and my heartache, joining them as one.
Just like any parent, I do not have all the answers and I fail my children. The inquiring of my own heart will stay within as I struggle to make sense of all the hurdles, but I will never quit. I may lay down in the grassy field just outside of the race rubber, rest my bruised body and battered heart, but I will always get up. I will jump those hurdles day after day, patch and sew our hearts and be present to love the uncertainty that is their reality. They are still, and always will be, little in my eyes. A little excentric, a little more tolerant, a little less judgemental. A little goes a long way.
You got this Mama, you are not alone. Live each day loving them. Unveil the light they may not yet see, but that you know is shining more vibrant each day. Build them up and keep breathing.
LOVE & LIGHT,