Dear child, I wear your pain.

The first time I heard your cry, I put your pain on like a cloak, ready to protect you from any darkness in this world, knowing I would never give up fighting for you.

I wear your pain.

I feel every blow, every bump, every bruise that happens to your body. When you’re sick, the weight of your illness makes me feel soggy like a wet sweater; when you’re injured I hold you tight in hopes that your discomfort will transfer to me.

I wear your pain.

When you get left out, your hurt drapes over my mood, your disappointment lays sadly on my mind. My heart weighs heavy when the world rears its ugly head toward you, on those days when you feel like you aren’t enough.

Even when you don’t tell me—especially when you don’t tell me—I try to ease your burdens.

I wear your pain.

I grit my teeth when I watch you make mistakes, knowing you need to learn how to survive in this world. I fall to my knees and pray you stay safe, aware of the danger that lurks outside the safety of our home. I try to absorb your fears like water into a sponge so you face your life with courage and conviction.

And I ache when your heart aches, suffer when your soul suffers, and sometimes I cry, knowing that my hugs and kisses and chocolate chip cookies no longer dull your troubles or can mask your misery.

I wear your pain, in the hopes you know you’re not alone. I wear your pain to lessen the depth of your own, so you will always have the strength to rise back up again. I wear your pain, so you can lean into the dark places—and so you will know that I will always pull you back out.

I wear your pain with tenderness and sympathy and warmth.

I wear you pain, so your don’t ever have to wear it like a scar, so you don’t feel broken, so you never feel hopeless before the next dawn arrives.

I wear your pain, so you know that you are not your mistakes, you are not your past, you are not what took you down for a moment in time.

I wear your pain, dear child, for as long as I have breath in my lungs and bones in my body.

I wear your pain—simply because that’s what mothers do for their children, as you will do for yours one day, too.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.