Motherhood started out as a mistake, a responsibility thrust into my young arms that felt too weak to bear the weight. I made so many mistakes but my son was not one of them. He was a gift. A gift I just wasn’t quite ready to receive or fully appreciate. As a result I fumbled around the world of motherhood very lost and distrustful of my instincts. How could I know anything? How could I possibly get anything right?
But I did get one thing right.
I just forgot sometimes….
Even early on in my pregnancy when my son’s biological father was encouraging me to “get an abortion”, I chose life for my unborn child. I walked out into the world and looked into the eyes of the people around me and wondered why they had any more right to life than my child did?
In that moment I chose love.
I didn’t even recognize it as love until I looked into my son’s eyes and finally met him in the quiet of the hospital room after everyone had gone home. When the nurse came to get him after his feed and I asked her to leave him with me for a while so I could really meet him, fall in love with him, just hold him and smell his beautiful smell. I didn’t want to send him back to the nursery. He was mine and I loved him.
Love didn’t pave our path with bricks of gold or lay pillows on the ground to cushion us when we stumbled and many times we lost the path completely. Loving someone is hard and it is work and it is staying when you want to run and learning from and apologizing for mistakes and most of all its forgiveness when forgiveness seems impossible.
I wear layers upon layers of bruises from all the mistakes I’ve made in the last eighteen years of motherhood. I don’t doubt my son has his own layers of bruising. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that my introduction to motherhood and his introduction to the world had to come with such painful lessons. The effects of those lessons still ripple through our lives and we’re trying to find forgiveness in a chaos that seems unyielding to any efforts at finding peace. Even in the good moments anger breaks through and smashes the fragility of the bubble that is encapsulating the laughter and connecting fibers being forged by our moment of happiness. As the bubble disperses it is like our world is exploding and though I try to keep it together as with the thin film of a bubble when it pops, it disappears like it was never there and we find ourselves yet again staring across a painful abyss filled with blame, repercussions, anger and resentments.
Many tell me they would have given up on my son by now, that it’s time for some tough love, “let him learn his lessons the hard way” they say. It feels like he’s learned too many lessons the hard way. Moments where I ignored my instincts, made uneducated choices, gave into pressure to follow society’s ideas and notions, or failed to ask for or find help or apologize when I should have or hold my temper when my depression was raging out of control and the pressures of meeting the outside world’s demands trumped meeting my son’s need for love, like the day I lost my cool because he was struggling to practice French dictation words and I screamed out in frustration and smashed my head into the wall leaving a hole in the drywall. Then there were tears and broken spirits and emotional bruises as we tried to pick up the pieces.
I had no idea what I was doing. What I should have done was let the dictation go and pull him into my arms and hold him and tell him it was okay, the dictation didn’t matter, I loved him and would help him. The pressures of meeting the demands of the teacher, the school system, the expectations of society in general that were labeling him a problem child overwhelmed me. I just wanted to prove them all wrong.
They were wrong. They are wrong. I never had to prove them wrong because there was nothing to prove. Love was more important than all that, but I didn’t understand that then.
I do now.
And I’m sorry.
Sorry doesn’t fix the broken walls or broken spirits. That takes work, a lot of painful, slogging through mud and emotional trenches work, not to mention the willingness to dive head first into the trenches and face the demons of the past, the demons of our emotions and behaviours that created the abyss I find myself staring across into the blue eyes of a soul so broken he hides from me in his video games where he finds an outlet for his pain and anger by blowing things and other characters/people up. His video game world is safer than the real world and it was my mistakes that drove him into that world because I forgot that love is more important than anything, than video games, or toys, or money, or meeting society’s expectations, or getting our way and insisting on showing him who’s in charge and that we can make him do what we want him to do regardless of his own will and desires – an illusion of power at best.
After eighteen years I’m trying to hold the memory of looking into the trusting eyes of the seven and a half pound child laid in my arms by a twist of fate he had no control over, and remember the overwhelming waves of love I felt and my need to hold him close and protect him. If only I had spent more time listening to that instinct like when he had night terrors and I sat next to him singing “Jesus Loves You” over and over, drawing him out of the terror with my soothing voice that had rocked him to sleep so many times.
Now my soul is doing the singing, calling to my son to remember the moments in the chaos where love conquered the fear and anger, to remember the love that holds him and surrounds him no matter what because society is wrong and I was wrong. He is amazing and wonderful and talented. He may not fit into the mold society wants him to but it just means he thinks different, he sees the world around him in a different light and somehow he will make it work for him, despite society trying very hard to stuff him in a box and get him to “get in line”.
It will take time, patience, healing and most of all it will take love. That’s my commitment going forward, I will radiate, enclose him and even smother him in love, until the raw wounds become aching scabs, then itchy scars and with some luck at some point even the scars will fade to a barely visible lightness, and we will find our peace, rebuilt upon a solid foundation of love. The scars may never disappear but some day I want the memories to be faint whispers of by-gone stories instead of festering wounds filling an abyss that separates us.
I’m ready to let love build us a bridge over the abyss. I am ready to heal. I’m ready to do the hard work. I’m ready to forgive myself and let my mistakes go and I am hoping that my son can eventually forgive me too, and help me build that bridge. Surrender the future to love and we will find our way, the path will meet us where we are and if we stay true to love, it’ll show us the way forward.
To my son: you are the child that made me a mother and I will always love you and that isn’t and never was a mistake.