The title of this post may lead you to believe that I am some super spy who is hunting the bad guys. It may lead you to believe that I am sitting in my car in some dark alley tracking the movements of a shady character in the hopes of making this world safer. But the truth is so much less and yet for me so much more.
I have a severe mental illness and yet somehow, some higher authority, decided that I would be a suitable mother. I am far from being a suitable mother. I am the mother that is often sick. I am the mother whose delusions and paranoia would probably give my husband hives. I am the mother who cannot find in herself the peace she wishes desperately for her children to have. I am the mother who has had to convince herself that neither of my children will ever have to experience what I feel, think, dream, destroy every day. I am not Mary Poppins.
But if you give out accolades for being someone who loves their children with absolutely no reservations or with everything inside of them, then I qualify. My children are a fascination to me. Even now as one sits at the kitchen table with her friends painting and playing eight year old music (think Disney) and the other sitting on my coffee table playing video games with his friends, I listen and marvel at the people they are becoming. Are they always good? No. Do they, on occasion, cause me embarrassment, fear, roll eyeing disbelief? Yep. Do they know exactly what buttons will push me to react? Oh, definitely. There are times I can simply sit here and just listen and there are times I have to get out of this seat and question their relationships with the children they have found to be friends.
Being a mother is not easy, and I imagine every mother of every cloth would say the same thing. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your bank account or the ability to give your children the world, being a mother is not easy. There are days I probably hide more because I don’t want to answer the endless questions, the endless complaints, than because I am truly needed the peace. But motherhood is hard.
This last week the love for my children has been a roller coaster not in anyway connected to the mental illness, but because life has again and again reminded me that the preciousness of life is not just fragile but constantly being challenged by its own self. Life is no more fair than motherhood is easy, but it is something that we live with and hopefully find ways to survive.
A couple of days ago there was another school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. I am not going to get into the politics or the insanity of watching young children have to run out of their school with their hands in the air. That I will leave to my voting booth. All school shootings are scary and unnecessary but like all things in life, if we aren’t directly involved, we can find ways to move beyond the news and back to daily reality. But I couldn’t on this one. This one hit close. This one hit too close.
For the first time I knew one of the children in that school. For the first time I worried about the fate of one specific child in that school. And while he wasn’t my child, he wasn’t a stranger on the television. He was a friend. His desperate mother, pleading and begging God, was a friend. And the whole thing became so much more real. This incident didn’t make me a better mother, it didn’t even do much for my humanity, but it was felt.
The next day I sat in a dark auditorium and watched my beautiful daughter dance in a recital; a dance I had seen about four times already. I felt the tears on my face while my child executed a very simple but elegant dance. I felt my stomach cramp four songs before she even took the stage in nerves and pride. I watched her and I marveled at this thing that I had created and this child that was so much more than I ever could be.
The day after that I watched as my son opened his birthday presents. I was once again reminded that my child is growing, changing, getting ready to change into the human that he will become. I watch with the mixture of sadness and happiness that I always get at their birthdays as I realize that my children are not the babies I once held but still catch my breath in their absolute beauty. The innocence is dying from their eyes, the harshness is slowly replacing the smoothness of their skin, and the once inane dreams are slowly changing to the work and toil of who and what they will become.
It was a lot of ups and downs for one weekend. And of course it is complicated by the million other things that are happening in my life and the lives of those around me. I actually wasn’t going to write about my weekend or my darling children but I needed to put in writing what a small space of time can do to a person.
A small space of time can change one. A small space of time can make one happy or miserable. A small space of time can make us or break us. And a small space of time can ultimately reverse course all that you know. I have always marveled how my life can go months without any great changes, and then one weekend, poof. I am not sure those who watch over us truly mean for this to happen. And I am not sure that it really does. But today, life feels shaky; and if there is anything I know how to do its find my feet on very shaky ground.