I thought it was a cute story about a mother/daughter bonding moment. A time when mom made it clear I came first…before plans, expenses, embarrassment, or expectations…all of that ran second to my well-being.
BrightSide didn’t seem quite as impressed by my story. Not at first, anyway.
Our world is filled with crazy – chores and homework, practices and games and tournaments, the ups and downs of tweens. Life spends so much time rushing past us with its hair on fire that we adapt. We start to think well, this is how it’s supposed to be, with the years flying by and all that.
Until time stops for one of those kairos moments. I still remember one from this summer like it was yesterday.
Bear and I spent time in a waiting room last week. T-man had an appointment, so we were killing time while he did his thing.
We come prepared. (It wouldn’t be far off the mark to call me a sherpa.) I’ll typically show up with a bag holding my iPad (in case I can blog), a notebook (in case of technology writer’s block or internet glitches), a novel (in case I can’t concentrate), and any deadline projects I’ve got going on for school or church. Bear somehow makes do with her iPad and headphones, but whatever. It works.
We were there around 4:00 which, as any parent knows, is far too close to the witching hour for comfort when it comes to littles. We walked in to find a woman with her three kids already waiting – kindergarten, preschool, and a little boy who looked about 18 months old. Three kids under five. Holy moly.
I could sense this mom’s growing agitation as Bear sat there quietly playing her iPad. The mom was on her phone but tried to rein in the rowdy kids with stern corrections and fierce looks. At best, she was periodically successful; at worst, she was completely ignored. Things weren’t looking good.
Everything came to a head when the mom called over her oldest daughter. The younger kids tried to follow and she sent them back with a harsh “Did I call for you?”, then pulled her daughter closer so she could fuss without yelling. When she abruptly leaned toward the girl, though, her daughter swiftly pulled back in an instinctive reaction that was heartbreaking.
A blast from the archives – here’s last year’s Gotcha Day post about the day T-man came home. It was what one might call eventful, and not for just the obvious reason.
“After leaving the agency with T-man, we realized we were pretty darn unprepared at home. That would be how we found ourselves stopping at Babies ‘R Us on the drive back…BrightSide, me, and a baby that needed, well, everything.
We walked through those doors into what was essentially a foreign land. After settling T-man into the shopping cart’s seat (we were old school – aka unprepared – no protective germ covers for him) we stopped the first employee we saw and then looked at each other, unsure what to do next. But we needed serious help and knew being direct would be the fastest way to get it, so we told her we’d just picked up our son with basically a crib, car seat, and high chair to our names. The only thing we knew for sure was the diaper size and special formula he needed – everything else was a mystery.”
Eleven years. Eleven years. Gone in the blink of an eye.
It’s hard to reconcile the two people sitting anxiously on that couch at the adoption agency with the (ahem) extraordinarily cool and collected parents we are today.
Well, okay, so maybe it’s not that hard. Perhaps that bundle of nerves hovers just beneath the surface, firing off frantically every once in a while when the occasion warrants. (Hello, car conversation about the fact that a girl’s period is more than that time of the month when she gets a little touchy.)
I’ve often said I don’t know what I’d do without Bee and J.
My sister and brother have known me my entire life. They grew up in the same Navy family. They saw me move through my bizarre teen years, into college, and then stood with me on my wedding day while I promised to love and cherish BrightSide. They’ve loved me through all of my struggles, my good times and bad, unfailingly and without reservation.
I know how lucky I am. Many people have brothers and sisters they aren’t close to, or their siblings haven’t earned the trust that our family has built over the years. We have a relationship that I dream T-man and Bear will grow into together. I would love for them to be able to rely on one another as they move through life.
There have been countless times I’ve felt their strength flowing through me, but perhaps never quite as forcefully as in our time with mom. Her stay in the hospital, her move to Hospice, waiting with her as she passed through her final days with us…Bee and J. helped anchor our family through a time that I can’t imagine having to endure without them.
Now we’re ready to say our final goodbye to mom. There are a lot of people who feel her loss, but only two others in the world have known her as our mother. I feel especially blessed that we can stand together through this moment.
There are times when I’m listening to people in this great big world of ours, and I can’t help but notice how careful we’ve all gotten. How the explosive nature of the general public has pushed some people into the shadows and forced others to tread oh-so-gently when meeting someone new.
Hearing folks hold back, hush up, or dance around an issue isn’t just annoying anymore.
I’ve found it’s almost painful listening to someone walking on eggshells.