The strangest thing has been happening to me all morning; people are commenting on how bright and happy I am. This is not to say that on other days, I am crying and screaming as I walk around; but rather, today there is a little extra something in my smile. Because I am who I am, I have to dissect this and worse, question it. Why am I so happy? My life has been a roller-coaster of change and stress for the last six months, why am I happy today? What is different? And do I try to recreate it for another day, or do I simply enjoy the moment? And can I enjoy the moment?
I work really, really hard to enjoy the moment; and I would say that I am successful about one in every twenty thousand tries. I know that I am supposed to smell the roses; I know that I am supposed to take the time to find the joy in every moment – I am supposed to choose joy. But that is a very hard thing to do.
Like I said in the first paragraph, my life has been in flux these last months. Moving, changing jobs, trying to sell a home, my marriage finally showing the cracks that can scare even the hardest of hearts, and trying to desperately continue to provide a world that my children can thrive in. It hasn’t been easy, and it isn’t over yet these changes from the one move. I have finally resigned to myself that it takes years to build up foundations you lose in moving, or changing your whole life so dramatically. You can’t just replace all the sandbags or the steady brick walls that held up the foundations of your life. You have to take each new brick and replace them where there are now holes; and this isn’t just in your professional life, or your financial life, it is literally all-consuming. Finding joy while I try desperately to push along the process and to find for both me and my children safety and security slowly kills the desperate need for that very thing.
I know better than most that are certain things to concentrate on. For instance, the safety, security and relative happiness of my children will always come first. They come before anything I am or anything I do. I will break my own heart if that means that the life they have is safe and secure. I will easily walk around in ancient clothes, find the best schools despite the cost, and I will continue to give them the small little “treats” that can make or break a day. I will find for them time, space, love, and most of all security so that they can life even if I cannot.
I was sitting at the dinner table last night, just me and my son, and I was listening as my son in great detail told me about being an agent and fighting the bad guys. He had developed weapons, viruses, lairs, and all the details a great story teller knows instinctively. He talked about who was in trouble and who was winning the battle; he talked about what the bad guys looked like, and what color fire one of them threw. It was a fascinating glimpse into the mind of my child.
I don’t believe my mother would have found it fascinating; and my husband while he might have listened would not have let the conversation go on for thirty minutes. My husband would not have sat there and simply listened, occasionally making comments to show he was listening; most people wouldn’t. But I found I could nothing less. I couldn’t walk away, even though my daughter needed me to stop every once in a while and give her direction. I continued to listen despite the fact I was uncomfortable in the chair, and I was cold from a freezing house; I sat there and listened despite the incredible book I am reading or the latest show on the television.
I listened because I have a son who does not complain. I have a son who is inside his head more often than he is in the real world. I have a son who brilliance lies not only in the math and science of school, but in the friends and voices he has deep in his head. In that he is like me. And one of the most important things I have learned about myself is the voices in my head are speaking a truth with far more weight than the words coming out of my mouth. That which I dream directly reflects the needs and desires that I have in my life. Yes, they are comfortable; and yes, they give me companionship in this life but mostly those voices allow me to live my dreams, and to conquer the demons I don’t have the guts to fight in my day. They give me the tools I need to get up in the morning, and they give me the music in which I can dance.
Last night I listened because I needed to know what demons my beautiful son is fighting. I needed to get away from the selfish needs that I wallow in and make sure that my child could still shine. I needed to know his demons, and I needed to know his fight. And at the end, he gave me more in thirty minutes than any novel or any show ever could.
I often worry about my son; much more so than my daughter. My daughter is in your face stubborn, and often carries her emotions and her heart right for the world to see. Her life revolves around characters as well, but they aren’t in her head yet, but rather in her toy box. They are the dolls that she can dress, the kitchen she can create, and the art that she loves to paint. She is artistic, vocal, and incredibly brave; much braver than I ever was. She can out climb, out ride, and sometimes out run her older brother. But you can always, at least at this stage, look her in the eye and know exactly what the problem is. And if her eyes are hiding all you have to do is ask.
My son is much different. I can remember one particularly painful day when I realized that my son suffered, but did so in complete silence. That was the day I learned to listen; to not see but to hear what he is suffering, what he feels. It changed my whole life, and eventually led to the place where I am now as all painful things must.
For my children, I would easily accept death. The thought doesn’t really bother me, except I often wonder who or what will listen to the brilliant boy I am trying to raise. I worry most about him, his sensitivity and yes, even his intelligence. I see myself trying to break through in him, and wonder if it will lead to a path as destructive as the one I have walked. I wonder if in the future I can steer those silent conceptions my son depends so much on, to a world that will embrace him and give him the freedom to live. Because at the end of the day I will fight to make sure that both of my children have the freedom to live; and if that means sitting on an uncomfortable chair, cold and tired, to listen to the tales of a six-year old; I damn well will. Every day of my life.