Today was one of those days, you were fine and then you were not. Your tummy got sore and you vomited and then you slept. And you are still sleeping.
I have asked myself a thousand times in your short eight years of life, “What can possibly be so bad that you vomit over it?” Surely, a child can not feel such enormous feelings? But you do – you feel things so darn deeply and its a blessing as well as a curse.
I’ve tried to make light of it, talk you through it, help you prepare for it. I’ve taken you to doctors, alternative healers, specialists. I’ve prayed for you and over you in your sleep. You’ve gone homeopathic and chronic in your treatments. And still, your tummy gets sore and you vomit and then you sleep.
I wonder if you have nights like I did last night, where I tossed and turned all night worrying about you three girls, my daughters? I worried that you would be hurt. I worried that I had asked the wrong person to give you a lift somewhere. I worried that you were scared and alone. To me, my dream felt as real as the rain that was falling when I woke up. But when I woke, I knew I had to rationalise that a dream is just a dream and as real as it felt, the rain was real but the dream was not.
You, at all of eight years old, do not have that capacity as yet. To you, what is unreal seems very real and what is real sometimes seems not. You can not predict a moment in your day when perhaps a friend doesn’t play with you as she normally would and you end up eating your snack alone, you can’t protect yourself from how that makes you feel. You don’t know yet that children are mean sometimes, but they’re mean because they’re insecure themselves, or jealous of you, or simply ignorant to how hurtful their actions are. You don’t know that their meanness has nothing to do with you. It’s not your burden to carry.
I am nearly five times your age and I still battle with these things. No wonder you crumple beneath the burden of growing-up. Perhaps this is a lesson for both of us, as I still need to remember to breathe from time to time.
I look at you and remember you as you were all those years ago, when I could hold you to my chest and not allow a single person to hold you because you were mine. You were safe there. And I wish I could keep you there always.
Except I can’t, because it wouldn’t be fair.
You need to know some uncertainty to understand the power of certainty. Life is filled with inconstants. But that only makes the constants more sweet.
You need to experience cruelty so that you yourself remember to always be kind. Remember how it feels to be left out, so that you are an includer. Remember how it feels to be teased so that you don’t tease. And remember how it feels to be made to feel less-than, so that you always make others feel like they are enough.
I wish I could protect you from everything. I wish I could punch those who hurt you in the face. I wish I could wrap you up in a swaddle and keep you at my chest once more. But how would you grow if I did that?
I can pray for you, which I do and always will.
I can teach you how to breathe and concentrate your emotions in a positive way.
I can reassure you that you are brilliant, beautiful and perfect in your very own way. Even if your father and I are the only two people in the world who see you that way, (And we’re not the only two,) that’s enough.
Darling girl, this weakness in you can be harnessed to channel your energies in years to come: to paint a picture or write a song. You can feel frustration and pummel it out on a run or smack it out on a hockey ball. You can feel loneliness and escape to time with your family, in a home where you are unconditionally adored and welcome.
Being a mother is the hardest job in moments like these. I wish I could take it on for you but this is your path, your lessons to learn. Let me help you walk this path, even when I can’t be the one to take the steps for you, at least know that you’re never walking alone. My heart is just as sore as yours is, if not more so, because I know that this is the start and so much more will come to shake your world around a bit. In fact, you will always have things to deal with, that’s a guarantee.
But tonight as you sleep I pray for good dreams. Because as much as what life can be filled with turmoil and unkindness, there is so much more good to be seen. In your world, you are surrounded by so much love already and so many friends who are kind. You’ve seen and appreciate and continue to see such beauty in nature, which is always all around you. You have so many talents and enthusiasms. Life is far more good than it is bad; that is why it is called a gift.
If I can do nothing else for you, I hope you learn that. It’s important to be grateful for what we have and not ungrateful for what we don’t.
Anxiety is treacherous. It can lead to all kinds of trouble, most of which I’ve experienced first hand. It can lead to a feeling of brokenness. It can lead to a feeling of faultiness; like there’s something wrong with you when there isn’t. I don’t want that path for you. Still, I don’t know how to redirect your feet. Only you can do that. But look to the heavens and know that is where your help comes from. Look to the flowers and know that there is always beauty. Look to your family and know that you are ALWAYS loved. With help, beauty and love around you always, what is there to fear?
If every child could do only those three things… if only.