You see, I have chronic insecurity. Somehow I seem to push through and even thrive in spite of it. But, it does stir up a storm of anxiety. Growing up in a controlling and unstable home makes one anxious. It also made me feel completely unqualified to mother.
I am not denigrating my parents. But the truth is the truth, and my truth is that I was not protected. I was exposed too early to too much. For a time we were nomads. It was when I was around Jack's age. We had a few hard years. These were followed by more hard years although with more geographic stability.
Freedom arrived in the form of college. I moved away from a hometown where I always felt I wasn't quite enough. Truth be told, I haven't looked back. I just kept moving west. Clemson to Atlanta to Colorado. Trying to outrun myself, my pain.
As for becoming a mother, I just didn't want the responsibility. Not because I needed to focus on my career, not because it would get in the way of travel time or reading time or bubble bath time. Although, let's face it, kids did end my bubble bath days. No, the responsibility I didn't want was that of their safety. I didn't want to do it unless I could guarantee they would be protected. I wanted their beginning to be different than mine.
I thought I had reached a point where my children would be safe. We were stable. Money, home, marriage. It all seemed so right. And it was. It is. I guess I just got confused with what I could control and what I couldn't. Or maybe I just needed to learn a few lessons about letting go.
Gracie was born with hip dysplasia. Really not a big deal unless you are the parent handing your three month old daughter to stranger to cut open. But this experience just about broke my spirit. How was it that I couldn't protect her from this pain. That was two years ago and typing those words still bring tears. That was of course hard because of the work and exhaustion. But my biggest heart break was in the knowing that I had let her down. I had not been able to keep her, so tiny and new, from her first major scar. It felt unnatural and it left a scar on me too.
I guess I still had some things to learn because my boat wasn't done being rocked. Last year about this time Jack started having fevers. After a few months of undiagnosed fevers our pediatrician suggested that we do blood work. It was during a fever episode and I held Jack close to me while a needle entered his arm and drew out his blood. This was bad. But the worst was yet to come.
The test results showed up online on a Saturday. No doctor to call; only Google to provide information. White blood cell counts were off. Other stuff I had never heard of was high or low. Google just showed up leukemia. I wanted to rip my skin off of my body. Those were the longest 36 hours of my life. On that Monday when I spoke with Jack's doctor she assured me that Google was wrong. We needed to do blood work when Jack was not having a fever in order to confirm a diagnosis. And we needed to wait a few weeks.
A few weeks passed and Jack had his second blood test. The results were all normal. A rare condition called PFAPA. A fever condition with no real cure and no real long term effects. He is fine. Perfectly fine. Did God hear my desperate prayers and change the outcome? Did he know that I just wanted to keep my babies safe? Did he understand that try as I may I couldn't rip off my skin and that I was stuck in this same old body living out my continued history? Or maybe I just finally learned the lesson. I cannot control it all.
The lesson that the quality of my mothering is not tied to the quality of my raising. The lesson that my past does not determine their future. The lesson that they are protected by this momma bear. The lesson that illness, heartbreak, falls and mistakes will come to them but I will be there to hold, love and nurture.
They are safe and I am too. And we, our little foursome, are tight. We are bonded by a force of love and dedication that may not keep all the storms at bay but do keep us looking forward to the rainbows. The decision I thought I would never make are my rainbows in the form of little faces I kiss while they sleep.