Sunday, January 22, 2012

To My Dear Sweet John-John (NOT on your birthday)

Dear John,
I always write to you on your birthday, but tonight I'm writing NOT because it's your birthday (but actually yesterday was mine, and it was fab.u.lous), but because we shared a moment (bedtime routine? hour?) that I want to remember.

Your grandparents are here this weekend, and they are staying an extra day to watch Sam for us tomorrow because he has two pink eyes and cannot expose other people.  But you were so upset tonight about the fact that they are leaving tomorrow afternoon, and you turned into this sniveling pile of emotion that I have rarely seen in you.  I sat with you, and listened, and validated, and just was THERE with you while you cried.

Good gracious, child: You do everything with SUCH intensity.  And usually that intensity is manifested in something energetic or annoying or just something sevenyearoldish.  Tonight, however, it came in the form of tears and sobbing and all kinds of stuff that I don't normally see in you. 

And it was one of the only times I've ever seen myself in you.  And it scared me.

I am not ashamed to say that it scared me enough into being the kind of mother that I wish I could be for you always.  The kind of mother who just loves with such ferocity and compassion that she can see herself in her children -- good and bad -- and is there to support them for it all.

Because John-John.  Seriously.  (As YOU say.)  This is probably not news even to you in all of your many seven years:  There are very few times when we connect. 

Mostly there are just times when you are being you, being honest, being seven, and I am being 35 and uptight and pretentious.
Mostly -- and embarrassingly -- there are just these snippets of time where you are just being a small, wild person, and I am being a wildly small-minded person. 
But Sweetheart: I have been sad in the same way that you were tonight. 
If anything in this life.  I have been sad.  Mostly in my 20s.  But it was big and strong enough to seem like way more than a decade.  And I watched terrified tonight as you endured some mix of sadness & exhaustion, which, in combination, were about as fun as bleach and ammonia.

And I wondered -- not for the first time -- if you got all that sadness from me.  Inherited it.  Just like you got my thick, wavy hair. 

So I started talking.  Telling stories.  Confessions really.  Just stuff to get your mind off of that horrible state -- that familiar state -- of Sitting-On-The-Side-The-Bed Wailing.

I told you the story of my childhood best friend Robyn.  And how MEAN I was to her when we were little.  And how much she just loved me back.  Ignored me.   Forgived me.  Made excuses for me even when I told her that she thought she was something "just because her feet were clean and mine weren't" ... and when she had literally gotten lost on the side of a mountain, and then found again, all I had to say was, "You smell like you've been OUT.SIDE. Gross."

And at this point I may have waxed philosophical about the importance of NOT BULLYING.  The necessity of radical acceptance and love.  Because I had been reading this:, and I was moved.

But the main point I want to make here is that after all that you stopped crying for the first time in HOURS, and you looked at me looking at you, and you said: "Mom.  You have never smiled like that."

"What do you mean?" I needed clarification.

"Your smile has never looked like that to me," you said.  "It is a different smile."

And in that moment of differentiation, I realized so much about God.  I realized that we are physically present on this earth to be his hands, feet, and mouth.  I had a connection with the divine because I realized that there is something earthly that is NOT NEGATIVE (unlike most earthly things): We have nearness to each other.  We have just (and all of) each other.

And I realized that I have you.  For now.  That I have this wonderfully intense little being that has been sent here to teach me about life, myself, the world, everything really.  I realized that "we own nothing.  Nothing is ours.  Not even love so fierce it burns like baby stars."  Gosh I love the Indigo Girls.

Because Lovey: I haven't ever smiled like that. 

That smile was just for you.

And I will never, EVER forget it.


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1 comment:

Kelly said...

Now stop that. You're going to make soft-hearted, sleep-deprived mamas cry.