“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I was home sick Tuesday.  My lungs decided on about my 40th birthday that any respiratory irritation of any variety – viral, bacterial or even the slightest drift of pollen – was an insult to their very existence and their response was to seize up in protest.   Last fall, at 43 years of age, I was prescribed my first albuterol inhaler, to which my response was “Where has this shit BEEN for the last three years?!”

But even the albuterol wasn’t helping me Monday.  After a day of hacking miserably in my office trying to work (do you know that if your fingers are on the keyboard when a coughing fit hits you, you can type amazingly long strings of meaningless text in an incredibly short time?), I decided to stay home, sleep in, dope myself to the gills with cold medicine and try to stay as immobile as possible (I’ve had practice lately, I am getting good at the immobility thing).

The morning did not start out well.  Apparently my lung’s tendency to overreact to the most minor of insults has permeated my mood as well, and Kris and I had a sharp exchange over nothing that ended up with me storming up the stairs (as much as one can storm with a broken leg and barking like a seal) and throwing myself back in bed.

I lay there with my head down in the pillows, trying to breathe while the decongestants and inhaler worked their combined magic, fuming at the injustice of the horrible world to poor little old sick me, and I heard the quiet padding of little feet and a soft scrabbling.  My son climbed into the bed, put his hand on my hair and lowered his head to peer down in my face.

“It’s going to be okay, Mommy.  You can come downstairs.  Come downstairs and play with me.”

No amount of personal pique can withstand a face that sweet and sincere.  I hauled myself down the stairs and settled in my chair to watch him play with his trains at my feet.  

As he sat down and pulled out his toys, without looking up, he said, in his most earnest little voice:

“I am sorry, Mommy.  I am sorry for making you angry.”

It was like a lance to the heart as waves of memory flashed over me; my own mother and her stormy moods and my own desperation to see her happy.  I remembered trying so very hard to be the big girl, the good girl, in the hopes of getting to see her smile.  I remembered the feeling of panicked failure when she retreated to her room or the kitchen in violent outburst.  I remembered tiptoeing through the house, trying to straighten the living room or put away the dishes, anything to please her and calm her and make her notice me, praise me, love me.

I do not want my son to be me.  I do not want the baggage of my childhood to be pressed into his hands.  I want him to see that people can disagree with respect and affection.   I want him to understand that he is not responsible for my anger, and that it does not change my love for him.   I never want his heart to suffer one minute of pain simply because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

“Oh, baby, you didn’t make Mommy angry.  You make Mommy very happy.  And I love you very much – even when you do misbehave.  Even when I am angry.  Even when I am sad.  This is not because of you.  In fact, I feel better just sitting here with you.”

God grant me mindfullness.

Now, please.

September 18th, 2008 at 12:05 pm
4 Responses to “Remembrance of heartbreak”
  1. 1
    jodifur Says:

    oh wow. Beatuiful, just beautiful. and honey, he’ll get it, he will. One cation doe snot a life time make.

  2. 2
    Kat Says:

    You just voiced the biggest fear I have about being a parent. I am scared, so scared, that I will turn into the angry young woman my mother was when I was a small child. I can’t bear the thought of my daughter growing up under that sort of guilt, pressure, and anger. I just can’t.

  3. 3
    OS Says:

    It is so hard to recognize things in myself that grew from things that I hated about my parents. But I keep saying it, it’s the parent that is aware of it that I trust and admire.

  4. 4
    William McNaughton Says:

    I, too, remember dashing around trying to make things right for my mommy so she would smile.

    Mom had serious issues with depression, and nothing I ever did was going to help. It would have been nice if someone had told me.

    Will