Max and I sitting on the steps of the coffee house where Odette works. We had gotten there three minutes too late and we thought we missed eating her delicious grilled cheese that he had wanted after a hard and exhausting day.
If anyone had every really been able to help me understand how hard motherhood would be I never would have taken the leap. Now don’t get me wrong, there is not a day that I regret that I leapt but I know my wimpy ol’ self absorbed young 30-something self never would have signed up if I really believed and knew in my gut how this job would turn me inside out and back again, fill me with joy and sorrow and desperate panicky fear all at once, bring up all my old primal insecurities, force me to do the brutal work of healing old soul wounds. Truth is, I might have been frightened away if I simply knew how much time I would spend making lunches that don’t get eaten, picking up toys that will just get dumped again, and driving endless and countess miles from activity to activity to drs appointments to playdates. Really. I am so glad I never really got it.
For nothing makes me happier than being Max’s mom. I feel as though I some how got snuck backstage to witness the greatest show on earth. Max has taken me on adventure after adventure across landscapes of the heart as well as real lives ones. With his beautiful smile, he cut away all the bullshit and revealed how purely I can love. He has given me new eyes and together we discover and uncover so much joy and silliness and wonder in the world. I don’t know if he will ever appreciate the tremendous gift he has given me simply by being here. Today on Mother’s Day, I didn’t want anyone to praise me for all I do for him. I wanted to hug him and play street hockey with him, and hold hands eating icecream and revel in all the joys that motherhood has brought me–I wanted to buzz the way I do when I see him leap over walls, his long hair flying out behind him and I yell,”Go Max GO!!!”.
If I am honest though, one of the hardest things about being Max’s mom is meeting his gremlins, the little voices in his head who tell him he is not good enough, or that it is all his fault. The worst of the bunch is the one who tells him that when bad things happen, it must be because he is an idiot and so therefor he must punish himself by refusing the icecream, sitting alone by himself instead of playing, hiding away and torturing his little heart. When did these monsters show up? When do our kids stop believing in themselves even just for a few minutes?
But what kills me as I see his little heart hurt is that I know these insecurities so very well. Apparently, I did more than pass on my freckles and chattiness, but as he grows I am witness him wrestle with the very same demons that I thought I had banished, or at very least tamed, years ago.
Oh they push my buttons those gremlins. And while I keep mine safely at bay these days, I can’t help but be flooded with empathic fear and hurt and sadness when I see him suffering so. Nothing I say really seems to change his mind when he is convinced he is to blame for the day falling apart and as I watch him fall apart with it, I feel helpless, helpless helpless. I know that those gremlins in his head are his to tame and while I can give him some tools, ultimately this is HIS work, not mine. I can support him, but alas I cannot fix it.
Now I finally understand what my mother told me when I held him as a newborn and she said that motherhood feels as though your heart is off walking around outside your body.
Today as I held him on my lap as he sobbed through the breakdown of the day, I decided to stop telling him he was wrong and I simply just said, “You are so precious to me. It stinks that the world is so disappointing sometimes. I don’t know what to do about it. But we can sit here together and be sad for a bit if you want. And then we can eat grilled cheese and do grocery shopping. And by the way, this was the best mother’s day of my life because I got to celebrate that no matter what happens, I have you.”
Happy Mother’s Day Max. I am so glad I didn’t know then what I know now. I can’t wait to see where we go next!