There is something recognizable, the same, about people who have an amazing mother. It seems like a part of their inherent personality, but it’s more than that. It’s what they’ve had instilled in them, day after day, by her example and teaching. OH, to have people see that in my children.
This is a loved soul, I think, when I meet them. A soul well-loved.
Too many people in the world don’t get to have that sense that someone is there and crazy in love with them no matter what. Sometimes an aunt or a friend or a cousin or a grandma fills that gap, showing the child what true Love really looks like, and sometimes no one does.
At night I pray in my kids’ rooms. That they will feel wholly loved despite the times I have failed at showing it. That whatever is in the way, in them, would fall away so Love can trump insecurity or pessimism or distrust.
Last night Asher was up one hour after getting into bed. This never happens, but he suddenly remembered, in a bleary haze that he had forgotten to put his latest tiny tooth under his pillow. It came out while we were making granola bites in the kitchen. I actually was taking a photo of them working together so nicely (rare) for posterity right when he shouted, MOMMY! My tooth! It popped out!
We put it in a baggie and then the day went on and later I discovered said baggie, got confused about what it was for and threw it away. Those teeth are just so TINY. Then he was up and I gasped and we dug through the garbage and found it.
He held my hand on the way back to bed and he stopped a few times to kiss the tips of my fingers. I love you, I kept saying. I love you. He did this one last time after sneaking back up the ladder to his bunk, trying to not wake his brother. He asked for my hand and kissed just one fingertip and rolled over for sleep. I’m astonished at the things he thinks to do. Kissing fingertips. What is better?
My heart wants to explode with gratefulness so often. Having kids can frequently feel like a long hard journey into Selflessness, but as much as it is, sometimes it’s all very selfish, too. I get to have these people who love me this way. I get to be with them and watch them become so them. Too often I can use their daily grind needs and wants as an excuse to not do other things that the world needs me to do. This reality is what got me thinking (SHOCKING) about the recent controversy over the TIME magazine cover that was so obviously created just to get people fighting about which is better, which is more selfish, having children or having no children:
(photo credit – Time Magazine)
This cover begs for us to get all upset, but I’m not upset, partially because it’s so obvious that the childfree do not live a life on the beach, skinny and always smiling. Just ask them. (Also, I have a lot of childfree friends who are doing more work in the lives of children who need them than many parents.) I’m also not upset because the article itself isn’t quite as severe as the attention-grabbing cover, of course. But I will say that the underlying message of all of this begs for a bigger picture conversation. Maybe its being had, I don’t know. I’m simply thinking on it here.
The reality is that life is complicated for everyone, childless or not. And there are a million ways to make decisions and a hundred ways to justify making them. Sometimes they’re totally selfish decisions and sometimes they’re only partially selfish. We do a lot of things that we have to do, we parents and we childfree. We are all raising up other people in one way or another, in caring for our sick and aging parents as adults or working daily in a career with a team of very difficult personalities or juggling life with a difficult marriage all while handling our own internal battles–physical, emotional and spiritual.
As painful as life is, this is as it should be–hard. It is the sharp corners and roadblocks and detours that make us finally find our way to wanting to serve the rest of the world outside of ourselves. We fight that so hard, whether we have children or not.
Sure, it might be easier to schedule a day at the beach if you don’t have kids, and yes, there are many differences in the lives of couples with children and those with no children. But that isn’t the point, really. This cover and some of its article prove how easily we fall for something in any kind of decisions we make, and that is that one choice is good and one is bad, depending on the ease of the future outcome we can only imagine while we’re actually making the decision. Most of us, if we’re being honest, simply want to make choices that will make us happy and so often picturing this happiness fools us into picturing ease. Because we’ll be happy! It will feel good! The End! It’s not wrong to want to be happy, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that we get confused:
Fighting for ease as our constant reality is fruitless. Most of us do it anyway, if we’re being honest. Life is so exhausting, of course we want to keep it as simple as possible and there are healthy ways to do that. But mostly, we drink copious amounts of booze or eat too much or spend too much time online fighting the fact that so much of life, in parenting or not, is hard. We are having internal tantrums like four year olds and taking it out on each other and in status updates and we’re getting sad. I don’t wanna! our insides are shouting. I don’t want to feel this pain. I don’t want to work hard. I don’t want this to be this hard! We do this to such an extreme that most of us can’t even SEE the need past the one that is felt inside our own skin.
If we make any decision in order to steer away from the harder thing, it steals from us because a) we humans are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for, and it feels really good to do the hard things and b) unfortunately, life is still going to do some sort of trick in which you still get the smackdown. That’s just life and fighting it is exhausting.
A day at the beach is good. A day at the beach is rare, for most of us, maybe even all of us, children or no children. We all find ourselves reaching out and begging for life to be easier sometimes, because we need to ask for help. We need each other, our family and our friends, whatever form that takes. We need to want to help each other. We need to choose to do hard things, because the Love Spirit in each of us can.
It doesn’t really matter if we’re parents or not parents, what matters is that we’re loving people in a way that teaches them to love themselves. Families are meant to create that, to live it out, a grand design to showcase unconditional love, but we mess that up a lot. The addicted and hurting and left behind and used up and abused and neglected remain. Whether we have children of our own or not, it is good, so good, to be the fingertips for kisses in the lives of those hurting ones.
Somehow, this magazine cover got me thinking about that, so thank you, TIME magazine. There is always a much bigger picture beyond the hype.