I would see the glow of the small box, and it silently told me no.
No to you.
No to me. But….why? Why not
I fill my heart with other things to soften the pain that I don’t have words to access. But is buries itself deep despite my efforts.
I tell her it’s time for bed, she looks down, “Ok.”
I am tired from a full day of momming, bone tired, emotionally, physically…it’s gone. All gone, I keep telling myself. I really…have nothing, nothing. Please just go to bed. If she’s sleeping I won’t feel that pressure of us. In different rooms.
I read somewhere to be vulnerable, put your hands facing up. But, I am so good at not being vulnerable, I have built a life carefully crafting walls around the real me. The one that would cry too easily if I let them in, who would say the wrong things, feel everything wrong–need them too much, or they would need me, I’d be too much. So I build. I’m busy. Or I’m laughing, or joking, oh-so-funny. I am doing, don’t you see?
Please not now. Or later.
I can’t. I can’t let anyone see me. Because I have nothing…
I fill my eyes with silly things, scrolling to numb my feelings of not me.
I am disappointed with myself. The pain I felt doesn’t have to be the pain I cause. But I really, really can’t. Just not tonight, please. Tired…
But really, I am convinced — I don’t know how.
So, I can’t.
I put my palms face up, scrape myself up, and walk past her room, “How are you?”
“Good,” with a smile, always a smile and grace for me, no matter what. It sort of makes me feel worse. Then better.
Hands up, I walk past and do the dishes.
I force my palms to go up again as I enter her room. I feel vulnerable, I don’t have anything to say, especially not at the end of the day, so I will just be present, I don’t even have to smile, but I brought my brush and I have a tangle in my hair, so I sit and work on it. Sometimes we’re talking, sometimes we’re not, but here I am, dangit.
I put my palms up on my bended knees, a good luck charm, We’re doing this! I felt a wave of determination around the edges of my tired lacking.
My shoulders relaxed, we pull out a book. It’s late and the boys have been sleeping for a long time. I stop thinking about the comfort of my own bed, and my own personal tasks I could be getting lost in. It’s cold outside, and we open a devotional with a picture of a girl, a birds nest on her head. Drawn in by the book, we cozy together, shoulder to shoulder.
I am enjoying this. I quickly make a mental note…”I can do this”
The page was about negative thoughts taking over your mind, “You can let a bird land on your head, but you don’t have to allow it to make a nest.”
We talk about thoughts, and she spills her guts, my once cold cheek warmed by her words, this connection slowly enveloping us both. She had always been ready, it was me who had to catch up, yet I focus on the now. Here we are, I am memorizing these feelings, this relief, and gratitude as fortification for the next time. I won’t give up. I remember what could have been if I would have given up for the night.
We pull out the bible, where Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and instead of him being discouraged, he would calmly repeat bible verses, a calm retaliation that was too much for him, until he left him alone. When Satan departed, she caught her breath, shocked and enraptured by the story. Me too. I used to think adults had to keep many things private from their kids, that that’s how it’s done, it’s in the rule book, but if it’s vulnerability that connects souls, the bringing down of armor and a focus on bonding instead of false ‘safety,’ I was all in. At this point, I had to be. I shared with her stories that she clung to, pieces of my hearts, and her soft brown eyes blinked with kindness and appreciation. I had always been safe this whole time, I had just never allowed myself to experience it.
To get lost in a conversation of connection, not lost in a pile of emails. To feel her warm cheek on my shoulder, not the loneliness of my independence. To let go of myself and how I hold myself together long enough for my true me to connect with my children’s hearts, to feel their love, hear their words.
To put on pause anything written on any list–to share a word, a presence, a life.
When my whole, physical body wanted to say, “Not tonight…” because I was tired in every corner, I hadn’t known the only way to rid the tiredness, and guilt was to put my palms up, go, sit, not knowing how, but letting the realness unfold in my lap. No map, just presence–I hadn’t known.
My mental list;
It’s ok to show up even without a smile.
It’s ok to show up even without wanting to.
It’s ok to show up with a bad attitude and a greater desire to read, or watch netflix a cold screen shinning on my dull eyes.
It’s ok to show up scared.
It’s ok to show up with nothing on my lips to say.
It’s ok to show up as my own self, my own flawed, weak self. Because showing up is what anyone wants anyways. No one wants a perfect mom. We all want a mom who shows up.
And even though I showed up a cold, tired mess, I left full, warm, connected, and energized. The love I didn’t have to give, wasn’t mine to give, but was created in the small moment of time, in a silent, sleeping home, cold and dark outside the window, a pink room illuminated by one light, and a mommy and daughter talking about each other’s hearts, not at first, but eventually, flowing in such a way that our inner beings were changed.
I could have been hard on myself, told myself that being too tired was wrong already, to not be good enough was wrong already, but I was kind, encouraging myself the moment I showed up. Forcing my open palms up towards the ceiling.
For my daughter and I, who we are becoming is more important than who we were, and what we thought of ourselves.
So, I will keep showing up. Despite my excuses and lack of ability, because you don’t need ability to show up.
Most of all the things you thought you needed to show up, you don’t. Leave them to find the connection we all long for.