Even Love Can’t Conquer the Hard Way

DSC00217Precious child of mine, I love you – that will always come first.

Love isn’t always enough. It’s not enough to help you when you are in need. That is my struggle.

How I wish I could understand the way you see the world. I wish I could hear the sounds that are much too loud or all too silent to your ear. I long to feel the restlessness in your body that makes it impossible for you to sit or stand in one place for more than a few moments. I wonder at your joyous spinning, watching it bring peace to you while leaving me feeling anxious. I listen to your words, never ceasing: in song, in changing tone, in marching rhythms. They flow effortlessly from one topic to another, as if they are completely related. Perhaps they are to you.

I struggle to be who you need. I want to support you, to help you grow in all the ways you can. It is my job to give you the confidence to step out into the world and soar. It is my heart to hold you close and carry you everywhere you need to go so that I may keep you safe. I fight that battle every day. As much as you dislike when I push you to do things yourself, I dislike the feeling that I am abandoning you in your struggles. But this is who I must be as your mom. It is my job to make myself obsolete in your life. One day I hope to be in your life merely because you want me there, no longer because you need me.

I watch you fight the demons inside your head while performing daily tasks – homework, chores, or just getting ready for the day. I see the struggle that creeps into your routine. Make the bed, get dressed, brush your teeth – day after day – until that one day when making the bed feels wrong. The blanket was too twisted. The air was too cold. The light was too dim. Who knows what interrupted your pattern. But it happened and nothing can be the same for the remainder of the routine. Suddenly every pair of pants is uncomfortable. This day the electric toothbrush is too loud, or runs too long. That’s if you even remember to brush your teeth, because your routine has been interrupted. I can only watch. Inserting myself into your struggle will not be helpful. I swallow hard, trying not to weep in your presence. You need to see the part of me that is so very proud of you and all your successes, not the part of me that feels so helplessly defeated because I cannot fix the hard.

Homework eats at my gut. I know the very capable boy you are, your inquisitive and investigative nature that makes learning a game for you. Yet I watch one word in a paragraph stop you in your tracks. I watch your open spirit slam shut on the aggravation of that word. Nothing that comes after that word will find its way into your thoughts. Sometimes it is a new word that stops you. Often it is just a word whose rhythm does not fit the way you were pacing the story in your head. It does not sound right. And everything from that point forward will be wrong.

Sometimes I try to help from the sidelines – without interfering too much. I’ll give reminders about chores or suggestions for organization. I watch you look at your chore list all day long and do nothing. I let you know what time it is throughout the day so you can’t say you didn’t know and ran out of time. You are so confident in your ability to do everything in the last 20minutes of your day. I desperately try to show you that plan is a slippery slope – some day that won’t work. But you are confident. How do I crush that confidence? You shy away from so many other challenges, how can I take the one time when you believe in yourself and tell you I don’t believe in you? I can’t. It is a never-ending dance we share each night. I feel like the Red Shoes have been lashed to my feet.

It breaks my heart to watch 30 minutes of homework take 60 minutes of your time because it is not arranged in a way that makes sense to you. I get angry when I watch the discomfort in your body as you stomp through your chores, trying to push them all into one little window of time. You often take the long road and the hard way in the things you do. I want to shorten your road and lighten your load. But I can’t. I don’t see the road you follow. Where I see an open path from start to finish, you see obstacles and blockades. Where I see an impassable barrier, you see a chance to get to your destination while spinning and jumping. And I know how you love to spin and jump. I wish I knew how to show you an easier path. There is so much that will never be easy for you. I deeply wish I could find the pieces that can be easier and teach you those.

How I wish I could see your world. If I could just understand the messages you receive, maybe I could understand how to talk to you in a way that makes sense. I see you, I hear you, I hold you – and yet I know nothing of what you see and hear and feel. I know you more intimately than anyone, you came from my body. And yet, I know nothing.

Precious child of mine – I love you. And that will last forever.

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