She found herself ill-equipped to deal with adversity because she’d always been protected from it. She’s not letting that happen to her boy.
I was a month shy of nineteen years old when I first saw the world as it truly is. It was then I discovered true pain and real sorrow. It was then my world tipped and teetered, and finally rested in the upside down position. At the time, I thought my Anatomy I class was going to be my biggest problem. I had hopes and dreams, ambition and passion. I was ready to take on anything. Or so I thought. Of course, I was still wearing the rose colored glasses I’d been encouraged to wear all of my life.
My plans were disrupted by the loss of my dearest friend and the deepest companion my heart had ever known. It was in the December following my high school graduation when my wonder-of-a-woman mother slipped from my hands into the arms of the angels.
And the rose colored glasses I had worn all my life fell from my face and broke.
Suddenly, I viewed the world through a different pair of eyes. Everything lacked the luster it once held. Life was not sunshine and rainbows anymore. Far from it, in fact. The world was dark and dreary. Life became nearly unbearable.
Every day was a new challenge. Some days, I cried all day. Others days, I slept the time away. I became a shell of my former self, a shadow of the cheery girl she had raised me to be. The grief overcame and filled me from the bottom of my feet to the tip top of my head. I walked the ever-thinning line between sanity and suicide. I didn’t want to live a lot of the time. To be truthful, I didn’t live. I merely existed, going through the motions as I was expected to do.
The loss of my mother took me through a valley deeper than I thought imaginable. And my walk through this valley was indeed a long one, filled with many stumbles and setbacks. Every time I thought I was over it there was something to take me right back where I started again; a stranger carried a purse just like hers, a movie we watched together aired on television, a song she loved played on the radio. The littlest thing took me back and I had to start crawling toward the light all over again.
It took me years to finally feel normal. In fact, I still don’t feel whole. I suspect I never will again. There are days I still visit the grief that once acted as my only companion.
But I only visit, never stay.
I can’t afford to stay. For now, there is a blue eyed little boy God has entrusted me to take care of. Because of him, I cannot linger in the sadness of yesterday, not even if I wanted to. His joy is contagious and pulls me in. More importantly, he needs me the way every child needs their mother. He needs me to make his dinner. He needs me to run his bath. He needs me romp and tickle. He needs me to lead and guide.
He needs me to prepare him for real life, too.
I know all too well how imperative it is that I ready him for the twists and turns life will throw at him. I know because it is the one area of mothering my mother failed at. My mother was loving, caring, compassionate, and hopeful. Ever hopeful to the bitter end. She didn’t acknowledge any outcome other than positive. She hoped against hope, and taught me to do the same. She looked only for the good in others despite the flaws they willing flaunted. In her world, and the world she created for me, everything would always work it out. It just had to.
This was the mindset she had. This was the mindset she passed to me. She trained me to believe only good would always prevail. Thus, she handed me the rose colored glasses and made sure I kept them on.
I will not make the same mistake with my boy.
I will encourage his creativity. I will help him cut and color and paste and paint. I will tell him about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. I will allow him to dream dreams and make wishes. But I will not let him wear those rose colored glasses.
I will not hide his eyes from the hurt this world can bring. I will not shelter him from the sadness and lead him to believe everything always works out in the end, because it doesn’t. I will not let him walk through life like a Hallmark movie. I can’t.
As hard as it was to say goodbye to my mother, at the heart of my struggle was a deeper issue. I was never taught how to deal with pain. Because my mother tried to shelter me from the hurt this world can cause, she never taught me how to walk through it and overcome. I had no idea how to handle failure, or disappointment, or hurt, because those were the things she kept from me at all cost. Then, when I was finally thrown into it, she wasn’t there to guide me.
My son will not succumb to a similar fate. I refuse to allow him to.
I want him to succeed, but failing can be a stepping stone to success. I want him to stand tall, but falling often happens before we learn to stand on our own. I want him to love passionately, but to love like that a heart must feel the sting of breaking at least once.
I won’t keep him from failing, falling, or breaking. I won’t keep him from him the tough stuff in life. I won’t hide the dark things of this world from his view. Instead, I’ll show him how to be tougher than the toughest trial he can face. I will be the hand to help him after the fall. I will be the love needed after his heart breaks. And I will teach him to illuminate the dark with his God given light.
And as much as I would love to take his pain away, I will not do so.
I will not shelter him from it. The fact is pain is a part of life and it fill find him at some point. I would rather it find him while he is in my care so that I can teach him how to overcome. I want to walk with him, to hold his hand and lead him through his valley when the time comes. I don’t want to leave him to do it all alone, the way I was left to.
I don’t want his rose colored glasses to break the way mine did.
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