There is a song called "Love Hurts" that I have always thought was stupid. The song is talking about romantic love and how essentially it's all a bunch of crap that will only destroy you in the end. I never believed the song and I still don't. But... love can hurt. Being a momma and loving your children can, and often does, hurt more than anything else in the world.
Two nights ago I spent several hours in the emergency department of our local children's hospital with my children. My son was getting a psych eval. No mother ever wants to see her child hurting physically, mentally or emotionally. We want to protect our babies, no matter how old they may be, from all kinds of hurt and harm. We want to keep them safe in a warm, happy little bubble forever.
Unfortunately, this is entirely impossible. The only time we can come close to keeping them safe in the bubble is when they're in utero and not even born yet. At some point that baby is going to come out and he or she will begin the inevitable process of growing up. Part of growing up and experiencing life is to live through heartache and wounds, whether they be physical, mental or emotional. The mean kid in preschool who hits you and takes the toy you were playing with. The girl in 2nd grade who tells people that you still sleep with a baby blankie. The best friend in middle school who suddenly turns on you for no apparent reason and crushes you. Your first love ending your relationship and walking away without a thought. Life can be rough.
As mothers we have lived through many of these rough spots and we know the hazards that life can hold for our babies as they grow. We do our best to shield and shelter them, knowing all the while that we cannot protect them forever. Inevitably something will come crashing into the safety of the bubble and the result will be hurt and sadness.
Thursday night was not, by any means, the first time that the bubble had been crashed into during my son's life. It was the first time that I felt like if something drastic didn't change immediately that our entire family was going to fall apart so badly that we would never be able to find all the pieces. Our lives would be shattered like the teapot that I cannot possibly put back together because some of the pieces are so tiny they are dust.
I want my son to be safe. I want him to be happy. I want him to know what an amazing person he is. I want him to see the beauty that lives in his soul. I want him to know from the depths of his being that the world is truly a better place because he is here in it. I want him to know the joy that he has brought me. From the first time that I saw him still wet and wrinkled from birth and looking very similar to Curious George. My son is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. And I have not been kind to his sweet self. Life has not been kind to him either.
But when push came to shove and my choice was to throw up my hands and walk away from the pain and difficulty of helping him find his way back to himself or to stand and fight for him when he can't do it for himself, I chose to fight. There are no easy answers in being a mother. There are no easy answers in life. But I do know that my son is mine and I am here to help him be the best person that he can be. It is my job as his mother to protect him and fight for him in whatever way I need to. And that is very scary and it hurts a lot.
Elie Wiesel said "once you bring life into the world, you must protect it." I brought my son into the world and I must protect him as much as I am able. The part that hurts is knowing that there will never be enough that I can do to protect him as much as I want to. I walk a fine line between keeping him safe and letting him live life. This is the part of parenting that makes it so difficult. To let him experience new things and to try out his frail little wings, knowing that at some point he will be hurt and there is little that I can do about it. The hurts that our children experience hurt us twice as much as they can ever hurt the child himself.