Monday, February 13, 2012

"This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you"

Curled up on the foot of my bed, I buried my face into my baby blue comforter and sobbed. My heart was broken. I was all of 13 years old, in 8th grade, and I KNEW that this was the boy I wanted to marry. But he had just dumped me. We'd been "dating" all of 2 weeks. He was in high school *swoon* while I was still in junior high and he was SO cute! I'd even held his hand (a first). He dumped me for my neighbor, who was a junior in high school- with a license! How was I supposed to compete with that? And so I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. After a while, my mother came into my room and sat on the edge of my bed. She rubbed my back and tried to comfort me. I don't remember the entire conversation, but I vividly remember this one thing: "Honey, you're heart is going to be broken a lot more times before you find the person you're going to marry." I don't remember if or how I responded, but I remember thinking she was crazy because that boy (the only one I'd ever held hands with- I'd still never been kissed) WAS the one. She knew nothing....

I'm sure it took me all of about 4 days to find a new "boyfriend" and forget the hurt that just a few days earlier had seemed so life altering. Looking back, that boy wouldn't even make the list of "Who's Who in Adolescent Anna's Life". Until I became a mother, I never gave a second thought to what my own mom was feeling at that moment. I know that she could clearly see how insignificant that moment would be in my life, yet it's never easy to see your child hurting.

I don't yet have teenagers. Our big hurts are still limited to "he called me a doodoo face" or "She won't sit by me". And yet, as my children get older, and I slowly see the hurts start to grow, I find myself hurting for them more than they even hurt for themselves.

A few weeks ago, my daughter was invited to a birthday party for one of her sweet friends. She was ecstatic about it. We went out and bought the perfect gift, wrapped it, and made sure everything was ready to go. The night before, we had an unexpected late night with family rolling in from out of town, and then an extremely early morning. I was exhausted and laid down for a few minutes. The next thing I knew, Savannah was shaking me awake, "Mom! My party!" I asked her what time it was and she said it was 10:45. The party had started at 10:00. It was a spa party and they were planning to leave for the salon right at 10. For some reason, my phone had been turned to silent and when I checked it, I had multiple messages from people asking if she was coming, if she needed a ride, etc... She had lost track of time and I had fallen asleep. I tried calling but couldn't reach anyone, so she missed the party entirely. She was slightly bummed. I was a basket case. I felt like a failure as a mother. I knew she wanted to go to this party and I had a hard time saying to myself, "It's just a party." And yet, by mid-afternoon, she was right as rain. Why did I let it bother me so much more than it bothered her?

Today, Mason stayed home from school, sick. He had been running a fever and not feeling well for a few days. When I woke up this morning, I took one look at him and knew he should probably stay home. He was all dressed and ready, but it was apparent that he needed to rest. I talked him in to staying home one more day. About 9:15, I got a call from his teacher. She asked how he was doing. I told her he was still sick. She said she was calling because today was the school spelling bee. Mason had won his class spelling bee and qualified for this one. He had been so excited about it, but was unsure what day it was on. I knew he wasn't going to want to miss out, so I asked her to hold on while I checked with him to see if he wanted to go to school just for the spelling bee. As adamantly as he could, he said yes, he wanted to be there. I let her know I would run him right up. We were out the door in 5 minutes flat and he was in her classroom in less than 10 minutes. However, I got a call 20 minutes or so later saying he had arrived too late. They had begun giving instructions already and would not allow him in. Holding back my own tears, I told him I would be right up to get him. My heart hurt for him. I knew how much it would have meant to him to do well. It was something he had been looking forward to. I made plans in my head as to what I would say to make it better for him. I told myself to plaster a smile on and make as light of it as I could to make it easier for him. When I pulled up to the school, he was waiting on the curb. As he hopped in the car, I asked him what happened. He told me, without the least bit of emotion, and then said he was happy to be going home so he could get some rest :) I breathed a sigh of relief. He was fine.

I don't know if all parents get so emotional over every little thing in their children's lives. My guess would be that some are far more rational than I am :) I'm a highly emotional person. That said, I would guess that most parents, particularly mothers, find themselves in these same situations, just perhaps not to the same degree, over things so insignificant. There is something about being a mother that makes you literally FEEL the hurt your child is feeling. You don't just understand it, you actually feel it- and you will do just about anything to make it better for them. Each time I face one of these moments with one of my babies, I can't help but reflect back on my own parents and wonder how they did it. How did they keep it together when we were falling apart? Heaven knows we went through a lot bigger hurts than these (some as consequences of our own choices, some as just part of life). How were they feeling when we got cut from the basketball team? When we made poor choice after poor choice and they had to sit back and watch us face the consequences we brought on ourselves? When our house burned down? When we were in an accident? When someone we loved hurt us deeply? When as much as they wanted to, they couldn't protect us?

My mom and I have talked a little about these sorts of things in the past. She has told me how hard it is to know we are going to crash and burn, but to have to sit back and watch us do it. I'm not quite sure I'll be able to do it quite as well as my own parents. I have a feeling my tendency will be to jump in when I'm not needed, to try and rescue my children when they need to learn to stand on their own two feet. I'm thankful that my parents gave me the chance to learn, to fall and to fail. Because that is how I became me- and I am strong. In these same moments, I can't help but think it must be like this for our Heavenly Father. He loves us so deeply and while He has the power to rescue us from our hurts and pains, He knows that what is best for us is to learn and grow from our own choices, and the choices of others. Sometimes He has to sit back and watch us crash. It must be so hard.

As my children-the loves of my life- grow and make their own choices, I hope I can learn a lesson or two from my own parents and my Heavenly Father. I hope I can be the shoulder to cry on, the words of wisdom, a tight hug, when it is needed. At the same time, I hope I can learn that at times you have to take a step back and let them learn to fly- even though it will mean many falls before they find their wings.


Sariah said...

Awesome post. :)

Jeff and April said...

That was beautiful. You are my most profound and eloquent friend- I think you should have written books or had your own newspaper column. It is a bit of a comfort to be reassured my mothering fears and failures are normal. Your post brightened my day!