This past Saturday I woke up crying from a dream. In my dream I was talking to one of my brother’s on the phone when I said, sobbing, “I don’t have very many people who hold me left in my life”. Aaron tried to wake me up and ask me what was wrong and when I was finally able to tell him, he laid there with me in his arms while I let that statement wash over me.
Today is Jessica’s birthday, she’s 11, and last night her birthday wish was to have a snow-day from school today. She got her wish! But by 10 am she was in tears throwing a fit over how “normal” today was. It wasn’t about her enough. She was upset that not everything was orbiting around her and I saw red but tried to speak gently to her. The truth in those feelings was that we do love her very much, but the lie was she was entitled to order us around and demand to be put before anyone else all day. Because I will not perform to prove my love for my children. That’s a known here; they’re wanted, loved, cherished. But they’re not coddled, praised without cause, or handed success. In this house, we are kind. In this house, we treat others the way we want to be treated. In this house, we love wildly and unabashedly. But in this house, we do not cater to selfishness. We aim to cure it.
It’s been a rough morning. I’ve said it before here, but parenting her while I still need so much of what she needs from me is the toughest thing I do every day. A few years ago it was not hard for me to make magic appear out of thin air for Birthdays or Snow Days or just because We’re Alive Days. I thrived off the magic of childhood. Losing teeth meant I stayed up well past a respectful hour creating “fairy doors” through the house for her to find in the morning with her little sack of gold behind one.
She hasn’t grown out of wanting to experience that magic and maybe where I failed along the way is demonstrating the joy out of everyday magic. Feeling snow fall on your face, smelling the spring air, steam rising off a cup of tea, being able to read my favorite poets, or write on a rainy day. Being thankful for the small hands that held tight to mine, or holding Aaron a little longer before he left for work. I do all of these things, as a meditation in reminding myself that this life IS beautiful. I just haven’t talked about it … out loud? Enough?
Moving into this new season and age of kids has been hard for me. When I was their age my life was in shambles and where they have the luxury of not even knowing that kind of pain, they don’t have the references to experience the great joy of our Now because the tremendous sorrow of my Past isn’t imprinted on their little hearts.
I was reflecting on this while trying to muster up my strength for today to be MORE patient, MORE kind, MORE understanding. Wondering to myself if I had failed at this Birthday. If this certain brand of sadness was creating an apathy to my child’s unmet expectations when it hit me: I don’t have a frame a reference for what this season means for me when I base my today on the experiences of my past. This chapter is forever unwritten.
A great freedom can come from this, getting to pen the pages of our lives with the kind of love I want them to know. Unconditional, no-holds-barred, boringly extravagant love. Which means I have more people in my life than I even thought who are still around to hold me. Because it’s not my job to open my heart and bankrupt myself for everyone else. It’s my job to open my heart, the way I open my arms, to feel the greatness of letting them in.
Happy Birthday, Jessica. I love you with a depth I had never swam to before I laid my eyes on you.