Monday, September 19, 2011

The Scars of Parenthood

Some of the scars of raising children are easy to spot, like stretch marks and scuffed walls and jeans that don't fit anymore...ever.  

Others come with time, as you discover that these people you've loved since the day you knew they were coming, at some point, as alarmingly interesting as you find them, no longer find you sufficient.

Sometimes they're angry that you can't fill that void.  Sometimes, they're sad.  Mostly, they're as bewildered as can be that you don't fit anymore, because like those jeans, it's not the weight, it's the way things have stretched and rearranged, that make the fit no longer possible. 

It's not the end of the world, but it feels that way.  It feels scary to feel like nothing fits and to see the whole world yawning open to swallow you whole.  It's scary to see people who you can't imagine young telling you that this stage isn't permanent and they aren't either. The lack of permanence is frightening.  The idea of permanence, equally so.  Everything seems equally a trap. 

That awkward stage of adolescence is like a fresh knife wounding, revisiting every scar, nicking here and there. The welder stares at you, surprised that you bleed and irritated that it is possible.  Other times, I've encountered a great ice wall, between the teen's heart and your own.   You stare every day for cracks, for a poke of green, a flare of color, a crocus in the midst of the hard cold.   You hope and you hope and you hope.  You pray and you pray and you pray and you try to govern your own heart and thoughts, sometimes you fail. 

It is in those moments, that permafrost seems to grow and I feel like a complete moron, wondering if anything ever done mattered or was marked or noted.  Any pride felt in raising people up to now gets crushed.  I remind myself, "You are to be the air, not the object, to give them the capacity to breathe and encounter all else. You are baseline, invisible, expected, for granted, present."

But it's not easy and I'm not always good at it. In fact, I frequently stink.  They are not obligated to do the same and they are still learning that love, adult love, love of family, of art, of beauty, of God, of others, is not an arbitrary or passing fancy, it is a permanent choice that must be made daily, and requires of us, all of ourselves, even when it is less easy. 

Frequently, they say things that suck all of the oxygen out of the heart.  It is in those moments, those hard blasted moments of being a mom that I know, this is how God loves us; as we love them. Despite our prickly nature, our irritated selves, our capacity to ignore gifts, ignore time, ignore beauty, and stand wounded and demanding that we have the right to reexamine our wounds over and over again and watch them bleed. 

God isn't really interested in all of that, He just wants to bandage our injuries, make them better and send us off smiling, to engage the world.   He just wants to love us.  So he sends his Holy Spirit to thaw us, whether we wish it or not, through humor, through music, through time and heals whatever we allow and hopes that one day, we'll turn back, our hearts breaking with joy, happy to be here, happy to see us, happy to be in our presence once more, fitting as we never did before, because we've grown out of our selves more, and thus have room for others. 

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