My oldest still talks about the time I didn’t go on her field trip. And how that really let her down. How >>I<< had really let her down. And I know I can’t explain to her the reasons why I couldn’t be there. That my heart was still raw with grief, and I couldn’t stomach going back to the last place I had been, with our youngest still in my arms. I know her young mind couldn’t understand right now. How exhausting it can be to just be around people when you are breaking on the inside. How I chose to sit this one out, so my heart could find respite. Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be what she needed of me if I was there. I knew I would have been a shell of a person, just going through the motions, and saying that I couldn’t, to all the things she would ask me to do. I knew I couldn’t explain that. So now, I just sit and listen when she talks about it, when her little heart urges her to bring it up, how it made her feel. All the things she missed out on sharing with me and how lonely she felt and how it would have been so much more fun if I had just been there. I sit and listen. And say I’m so sorry. And how I wish I could have been there, too. And, maybe next time will be different. Maybe next time, I can be all those things she needs me to be.
It’s inevitable. At some point or another, we will be the one who lets them down. We will be the one who hurts their feelings or tells them we can’t build a rollercoaster in the backyard, or there is no such thing as miniature llamas. Or that we can’t make it to their field trip. We will forget to get that one thing they asked for at the store or show up late picking them up, or take them to gymnastics on the day they were supposed to go to dance. We can’t do everything perfectly. Eventually, we will be the reason their little heart hurts.
And, you know what? They might remember it. It might become a part of your story, something that is brought up from time to time. But, honestly, that’s okay because it will give them a reference to fall back on when they someday find themselves in our imperfect shoes. A time to remember how to react. Based on how we reacted. To remember how no one is perfect, and the importance of forgiveness and grace, what it means to be patient with ourselves and with others when life falls short of our expectations.
And then, at some point or another, something will happen, and we won’t be able to fix it. We won’t be able to make it all better. We will want to, and our hearts will break with theirs as we sit there with them in the shattered pieces of their childhood, feeling so helpless.
But, hear me now, sweet Mommas. This is not the end. This does not mean you are a bad momma, or you have failed as a parent. Or that it will never get better from here. It just means that life is not always a bowl full of cherries. We can’t stop the hard that comes. We can’t keep growing up from happening. But the thing we can do. The thing that will be monumental to them in all those moments is that we can be there. We can be there, running around and messing up, because we are trying. We can be there, frustrated, and overwhelmed because the demands are limitless. We can be there, full of love and encouragement because that’s all we have to offer. We can be there, saying we are sorry because we messed up, sorry because we couldn’t make the field trip, sorry their little sister is in Heaven. So very, very sorry. And that it makes us sad, too. And that we wished, with all our might, that we could fix it.
But, even though we can’t, we are going to sit here with them through it. We are going to listen to how they feel and offer all our love and support. We are going to do the best we can with what we’ve got. And that will never, ever change.
And, that’s the parts that they will remember. The parts they will hold onto and take with them. That’s what will shape them as they grow. Is knowing that no matter what. No matter what might happen or life throws their way, even if we’re late or show up at the wrong place, with the wrong thing. Even when we can’t make the field trip, their Momma will still always be there. Be there when they get home, to hear all about it. Be there, even when we can’t make it better. Be there. With them through the hard stuff. And that’s what matters most.