“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not into thine own understanding.” –Proverbs 3:5-6
“Shut up, you stupid idiot, or else I’m going to punch you in the eye.”
“Hi, Miss K. I love you.” I am secretly just a bit jealous of the spontaneous embrace that my little boy gave to his teacher. After all, I was still recovering from unsuccessfully dodging the sippy cup that had been hurled at my head just moments before. And it was me, not her, that had made him waffles for breakfast.
My child skipped off to join the other four-year-olds at the playground. I watched as he offered his friend, clad in Dalmatian spotted pajamas and cowboy boots, a boost onto the climbing apparatus. “Thank you,” said the polite Dalmatian child.
“You’re welcome,” piped my son, who, apparently, does actually have manners, evident only when he doesn’t think I am watching.
On a given day, it seems as if someone has swapped out my child for a ghoul, a monster, or a demon. He’s a little boy, but he’s also a fierce child who came into this world fighting against things over which he had no control.
“Is that your grandson?” I have been asked this question many times. He’s not, but he certainly could be. I wonder if I parent more permissively than I did in the early days, if I am less aware of my surroundings, or if the often baffling behaviors really are bigger than me.
It’s defeating to be overpowered by someone that weighs one-fifth as much as I do. It’s more than defeating when, after nearly three decades of parenting, I really have no idea what to do. And really, I don’t.
At just the same time that the nation was thrust into World War II, a seedling, called simply “3-35-40”, was being developed in France. During this period of unthinkable devastation, a thing of great beauty was born. This seedling, further propagated after being sent to the United States, became the world’s most beloved rose, called “Peace”.*
I wonder, if I collected all of the hours turned to days, and strung them together into weeks that I have spent sitting in an unforgiving vinyl recliner, waiting for someone with a name tag to make a decision about the next supportive action for the mental health of a child in my care, how much idle time has slipped away in favor of the angst of things out of my control?
Parenting is relentless.
“He doesn’t act like that around me.”
Well, he acts that way around me.
“You’re his safe person. He knows he can let his true feelings flow, and he will be okay.”
Well, I don’t think I like this. It’s tiring living in a cartoon where body parts and random expletives spin in circles over my head, and I feel poorly equipped to tame the wild that has been given me. And when the child is bigger and stronger, when the fight burns hot inside, when the child is almost no longer a child, when I don’t know what to do…when I cannot draw on my vast parenting experiences of pushing strollers in the park, school shoe shopping, rescuing frogs from the basement, and sewing laces on pointe shoes to manage a child who, eyes filled with rage, takes on a strange state of being, writhing, nearly foaming at the mouth, tossing heavy objects into newly-painted walls, and, perhaps the hardest to bear, expresses the wish to no longer be part of our family.
There’s no answer here.
The wolf is revered as signifying loyalty, guardianship, and spirit. A young wolf may leave the pack, trying to fend for itself in search of independence and freedom.**
Pushing away, fighting, searching…
We are here, maybe along for this journey, but definitely not running the show. It’s hard, a different hard from the physical labor of turning a compost pile or carrying a 40-pound bag of layer feed to the barn.
It’s hard, as in “how could this possibly be happening?” and “how could there be any more than what has already been?” and we know it.
I look at my image in the mirror and wonder, bewildered, who is this shell of a person raising, or struggling to raise, these children?
As I turn to the Maker for strength, no longer for reason, my grown son appears through the hospital doors with an iced soy milk latte and a single Peace rose.
It was hours later when, through eyes bleary and body weary from the emotional weight of the recent days, I sent my son a message thanking him for what he had done.
His formative years included many scenes where burdens of trauma and pain were indelible, yet he recalls the good, too. He returned my message of thanks with words that will not be lost on me:
“I was raised by the kindest of wolves.”
When I am called home at the end of this life, I wish to look back with peace, if not understanding, knowing that all of my wolves have returned to the pack, with or without Dalmatian pajamas or cowboy boots.
Thank you for reading. Kindly share if you have found meaning in my words.