Parenting is often a thankless job. I know I always talk about motherhood in glowing terms, but it isn’t and hasn’t always been easy being a parent. So for a moment, let me share a few things with you and then I’ll sum it up with the reason I’m thinking of this today.
Brittany And The Bed
When Brittany first came to live with me and my first husband, she slept between us on the bed each night. She was such an adorable little girl and would snuggle up to me when we first got into bed. Once Brittany had fallen asleep, things were dramatically different. Most of the time her feet ended up across her uncle’s face and her head ended up on top of my head with her arm across my face.
One morning I woke up, rolled over and realized that Brittany wasn’t laying next to me. I sat up and looked harder only to see that Brittany was nowhere to be seen. I panicked and woke up my husband. We started searching for her by feeling for her little body in the rumpled blankets.
At the height of my panic and through tears, I looked in the crack between the mattress and the wall. We didn’t have a headboard, so there was a little gap and THAT is when I saw something I won’t ever forget. Scrunched in a little ball in the narrow crack and sound asleep was Brittany. I scooped her up and held her tightly as the panic dissipated, but then I felt terrible that I hadn’t done something differently to prevent such an episode.
Looking back now I find the whole thing quite humorous, but AT THE TIME I was really upset. The point I want to make with this story is that AT THE TIME my view of the situation was very concentrated on THE MOMENT. I wasn’t thinking about her first day of school, when she learned to swim or the day she would graduate from high school. I also didn’t keep it in perspective because I kept thinking about how horrible it would have been if she had been squished in the crack. My mind just kept coming up with crazy thoughts that impeded my happiness.
Alyssa And The Store
Now let’s jump to the day I went to Toys-R-Us with Alyssa. She was about four or five years old and always so happy. We were walking around the store looking at toys when we both heard a very loud scream followed by more screaming. We both looked down the main aisle to see a little boy laying in the floor screaming as loud as his little voice could scream.
“No, I’m not buying that truck for you,” his mother said as she continued to read the back of the box she held. The little boy kept screaming and that’s when I felt a tug on my shirt.
As I looked down at Alyssa, her little face was looking up at me in confusion.
“Mommy, why is that boy screaming?”
“He wants a toy and his mother won’t buy it for him,” I explained.
She was quiet and I could see her little brain processing the information.
“Maybe his mother doesn’t have enough money today,” Alyssa said in a matter-of-fact tone.
I just stared at my sweet daughter’s face. Alyssa was so logical that it blew me away sometimes. Her innocence was so refreshing and sweet.
Sherry And The Scarf
I have a billion memories of all the sweet moments with Brittany and Alyssa. When I get particularly depressed, I try to go back and remember the happy times with the two of them. Those were the days I felt needed, wanted and loved. I was useful and served an important purpose in life. Unfortunately, I always wonder if I should have done things differently and if my ineptness or poor choices irrevocably hurt the girls.
Whoa! That’s exactly what I say when those thoughts threaten to ruin my day and at the same time I point out to myself that babies are not born with instruction manuals. We all make mistakes and that’s just life.
One day this week I got home and discovered that Alyssa was already gone for the evening. I walked over to the computer to turn on some music. Laying in front of the monitor was a beautiful scarf and a note laying on the top of it. It read:
Bought you a scarf today
Obviously, all kinds of thoughts passed through my head and my heart was immediately bursting with emotions. Alyssa had thought of me with love, purchased a scarf that reminded her of me, wrote me a little note and left it where she knew I would find it soon. Alyssa knows me and loves me just the way I am with all my flaws and regardless of all the mistakes I’ve made in the past.
Happiness And The Fear
If you’re like me, you often get so caught up in NOW that you can’t see the big picture nor can you imagine the happiness in the future. Fear often grips me so tightly that I can’t see past the nose on my face especially when the “what if’s” are set into motion. All the worrying, tears, fear, sleepless nights and feelings of “not good enough” that I’ve felt while raising children have become easier to put into perspective since they are both young adults now.
Is there a lesson in here somewhere?
When faced with an opportunity that seems either too good to be true or one where I have a lot to lose, I want to run away both emotionally and physically. The unknown of the future feels too overwhelming, so rather than take a risk for happiness, I want to quit which will ensure that I won’t fail, get hurt or lose something of value. Of course, that also guarantees that I won’t succeed, find joy or progress.
I’m pretty good at abruptly stopping, taking a fear filled reality pause and then slipping into the shadows for safety. Now that I’ve survived the abyss and Hell of PTSD, I can see all the times I’ve run away and all the times I conquered my fear. The safety of the shadows constantly beckon me to enter while the excited-I’m-alive part pushes me forward. It is a constant battle…
Sounds like such an simple and logical choice.
I wish it felt that easy.
Today I’m in the fear mode, ready to run and hide in the shadows. Maybe my brain will work on it while I sleep tonight and I’ll wake up energized to step into the unknown of the future with my new scarf to give me encouragement that things often do lead to a happy ending. Don’t you think that’s true?