Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Mother's Photographs

What is it about our children that can make everything in our world go upside down and topsy turvy and bring us to belly busting laughter all in the same minute? A few weeks of events, some my own, and some of my dear friends, have caused me pause.

How is it that I can still get misty creating the photograph in my mind's eye of my daughter, barely five years old, riding her bicycle without training wheels for the first time? Legs wobbly, arms askew, her face filled with both fear and delight, roaring down the sidewalk at what to her was breakneck speed. Photographs in my mind of the day she showed me her "perfect" wedding dress, a sample that was dirty and two sizes too big, yet after being cleaned and altered, it truly was the perfect dress for her....and I can get tears in my eyes now just remembering her walk down the aisle.......beautiful.

What is it about mothers who can reach down within themselves when they think there is nothing left, yet they can still bring strength and fortitude to their child who is laboring with the birth of a child, having known for hours that the child would be stillborn? How does a mother cope when she is in the middle of an ordinary workday and gets a phone call telling her that her child is on the way to the hospital, brain dead and in a coma? Where does that strength come from?

We spend the first part of their lives putting RugRats band-aids on them and kissing their boo-boos all better, and we progress to the place where we are able to give them whatever strength we have from our experience and wisdom, always feeling, deep within ourselves, that it's not enough.

We continue to wish that we had a magic wand that we can wave over them to make them safe and sound and eternally happy, but no one I know has found that wand yet.

How does a sweet two year old grandchild go from lying in your bed watching "The Lion King" for the 200th time, whispering in your ear, "Grandma, you can't watch the movie with your eyes closed", to becoming a teenager and letting you know that you don't know anything, and on top of that, you are totally uncool.

What is it that makes us continually want to give our children a stress free, happy life without the same trials and tribulations that we endured? Sometimes we let them go because we know that they will do whatever they want, and we hope against hope that they will learn from their own mistakes. Sometimes we feel that we must interject our wisdom and experience to them in a way that we hope will make them understand. Sometimes that works, sometimes not.

I think we all just want our children to live happier, better lives than we had...we don't want them to face all the fears and disappointments that we have faced in our lives, so we try to protect them, and when we can't, or they won't let us, then we feel somehow as if we have failed them

Over the last few weeks, I have convinced myself that he only thing we can do for our children that is a sure bet, is to love them. To love them when they have emptied their diaper all over themselves and their cribs, when they have whacked the neighbor kid upside the head with a rock, when they are punished for misbehaving in school, when they get a speeding ticket, when they try to wrangle us out of something we don't want or can't give them, to love them wholly, without limitations, unconditionally....and to make sure that they absolutely KNOW that we do.

Children are resilient to most things, sometimes because they don't know any better, and sometimes because they do. When our children hurt, we hurt. Read all the codependency books you want, but whether it's because they are three and you have accidentally smashed their fingers in a car door or because they are thirty something and go to work one day and find out they don't have a job. Mothers hurt. We can't fix it for them, and it hurts.

Sometimes loving them and listening is all we can do, and sometimes, that's as good as a RugRat band-aid and a kiss, and that's all you can do.


Sheryl said...

I just finished working on a school project with my 6 and 9 year old children . . . as I put them to bed I thought . . THIS is what it's all about -- these moments - these simple, every day moments.

And as I logged on to send a few work emails, I decided to check in on my CIL gals --- and found tears rolling down my face w/your 'mother's photograph' post. Thank you for it. Being a mother is the most amazing, most challenging, most heart warming gift in my life - and it was wonderful to read your perspective. Thank you for that.

Love from Oregon

Ruthie said...

Beautiful post Cin.

Janet said...

Absolutely loved this post.....exactly what I have been feeling.....exactly what all mothers feel. I know I certainly wish I could absorb all the hurt and grief that my daughter is experiencing but then again her strength these past few weeks has been simply amazing. She's grown into a woman...when did that happen? I love you -- thanks for the post! Janet

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post! Kara Boone