Every night before Dylan goes to sleep, I ask him if he has any worries to give me. It’s a silly gesture, but it makes both of us feel better for some reason. He hands me some imaginary load of 8 year old problems – things that I am happy are the full extent of his worries - like what kind of pea shooters to plant to battle the zombies, and how to outlast everyone in the Gaga pit at recess, and who or what makes those shadows under the dark corner of his desk at night. I always pretend to catch them, like an imaginary football. I tell him he doesn’t have to worry anymore, that he can rest easy, I’ll carry his load for him that night.
I guess I’m just reminding him I’m his Mother.
This is what we do, right? But we don’t just carry them. We are magicians of sorts. We use them, we spin them into questions and dreams, we use them and we build on them. We teach them how to look at them in the morning with fresh eyes: to see them as new fuel for love and strength, and from stuff to learn from. And when we can’t shape it into anything more than it is, we promise to shoulder it with them. We help them carry it. Because burdens and worries are less scary in the light, and when someone else helps us carry the load.
I found some old pictures the other night that brought a lot of this to the surface. I remember the exact moment when my father took them. My oldest was just ten days old. And my parents who had helped me bring him home, were leaving. I was emotional and the kind of unique hot mess you are when you are 10 days post-partum: when you are fueled by caffeine and pure love and 8,000 different hormones and complete ignorance of how to care for another human and WHY ARE THEY LEAVING ME IN CHARGE OF THIS TINY HUMAN THAT CAME WITH NO DIRECTIONS? I do not know how to do this. I cannot do this.
Just then my father, not knowing how to handle the complex emotions that were most assuredly about to spill out at him pointed his camera at me to take my picture with my mother. I was wearing maternity jeans and could feel hot tears welling up behind my eyes ready to pop out at any second. I smiled halfheartedly. But he kept clicking and instinctively as the tears rolled down my face my mother jumped in front of me, to shield me from the camera lens, to hold me, to reassure me that I could do this. I didn’t know if I believed it. I just knew that it was what I needed to hear and feel. And she knew that. She scooped up my worries. Even if I was too big to scoop up, and she could no longer scoop up my son, there she was whispering in my ear: don’t worry. You’ve got this. We’ve got this.
Motherhood is about a lot of things. Way more than any of these blog posts ever surmises. But if even for a moment, there is someone special in your life who helps you, who helped you share the load, than you are blessed. They carry it from a place of understanding, from a place of love, and from a place that comes from wanting more than anything to shield you from hurt and equally knowing that this is fundamentally impossible. But still, trying again anyway.
I’m pretty sure that is the definition of insanity.
That is love.
And it certainly seems like the definition of motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day you crazy kids. I love you all.