Our children have much power in holding our hearts. We give it to them freely piece by piece as they grow up. They smile, we give pieces of our heart. They laugh, we give pieces of our heart. They say their first word, take their first step, present us with handmade art… Piece by piece, bit by bit, we give it and so it goes…
I never realized the weight of such giving. Until I found myself toe to toe, nose to nose, with a younger version of me, standing in the kitchen looking for misplaced garbage bags.
Me: “Do you know where the garbage bags are?”
Mini Me: “No, it’s not my fault, I didn’t take the trash out last.”
Me: “I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m simply asking you to help me look for the trash bags please.”
Mini Me: “Yes you are. You asked me if I knew where they were. Everyone always thinks it’s me who misplaces stuff but it’s not.”
Me: “Can you, please, just help me look.”
Mini Me: “I am helping, I have been this whole time.”
Back and forth, the word badminton match went.
With each hit it seemed pieces of my heart were being tossed back at me… unwanted, not needed, rejected… falling at my feet.
That’s what we’re playing with after all. Isn’t it? Our hearts.
We often forget that.
As I stood there looking at the younger version of myself. I realized, there was no walking out of this discussion unscathed. Nothing I was going to say was going to penetrate the well-built fortress that had been crafted around mini me’s mind. So I carefully, tearfully, gathered up the pieces of my heart & walked away.
I wish I could say I walked away silently. I didn’t. No. I threw pieces of mini me’s heart right back… I said “That’s it. I can’t take anymore. I tap out. I’m not your mom anymore.” I proceeded directly to my room where I cried over all of my rejected pieces. Mini me did the same.
I don’t think we have ever exchanged an unkind word that didn’t end with an immediate apology. I have no problem promptly admitting when I am wrong. In this case though, I didn’t. I was so entirely hurt. I felt like a warrior badly wounded in battle.
Thoughts like “I’ve poured my entire life into these kids”,
“I couldn’t do more..”,
“I couldn’t love more…”,
“I couldn’t give more…”,
“How could …say that?”…flooded my mind.
Every word burned my heart more than the one before.
After some time, I gathered the messy blubbering pieces of myself together. Left my room. I found the garbage bags, in one of the kids’ rooms, where the trash can they’d emptied the day before had been.
After taking the trash out and completing the chores, I stood outside thobbing (thinking & sobbing). I knew it wasn’t about trash bags. It was that we had reached a new place in our relationship. It was no longer kissing boo boo’s and coloring together. It was learning how to navigate our emotions, recognize when our hormones were in play, and responding accordingly. I knew it was changing. I’ve known for the past year.
It’s been a slow shifting from the freely giving, wholehearted, excited to see you love. The always-ready embrace, fresh faced, all’s forgiven, every day’s a new day, all-in, all-on kind of love. To the more cautious, how’s this going to affect me, guarded, bargaining, chip for chip, let’s weigh this out, move by move, got to work for it, kind of love.
It hit me standing, crying over my pieces, in the backyard. This is mini me growing up. Learning to express mini me’s self, learning to deal with feelings, learning to navigate life, to communicate meaning, to interact, to live. I stood out there, mourning my pieces, hurt. Realizing that while it’s hard to be a parent, it’s really hard growing up too.
Our relationship had reached a new place. We had arrived at a fork in the road. The choices? Leave it or retrieve it. It’s that simple.
I can either leave it. Hold my pieces close, count my losses and move on. Not try to understand. not try to make amends. Not try to see another perspective. Retreating to a place of safety. Alone.
I can retrieve it. Humble myself. Putting our relationship before my rightness. Realizing I am not the only wounded soldier here. Going back, bandaging, helping pick up mini me’s pieces. Hobbling forward. Together.
I chose “retrieve it”. I chose together.
I am glad I did.
I got a glimpse that day of what is to come with growing up. I am mourning the loss of that beautiful child-like way. I will miss the innocence & the beauty that comes with it. But I see new beauty on the horizon. I choose to celebrate this new stage. The different beauty that comes with learning to live life, to be your own person.
I admittedly brace myself, for each of my children, knowing that most nothing great comes easily. Strong character does not go untested. Adversity comes. Trials come. Pain comes. Tears come. Fear comes. But then, reminding myself, greatness comes. Strength comes. Joy comes. Beauty comes. Comfort comes. Courage comes. Faith comes. Growth comes.
I am grateful I get to bear witness to the becoming of mini me ❤
Growing up is a hard job. So is parenting. But it is much better done together. I hope we always trust each other with pieces of our hearts.
I hope we always choose to retrieve.