We had a rough night, you and I. The kind that is full of tears and misunderstandings. The kind where I force myself to take deep breaths as I try to navigate through another storm that is brewing. The kind where fear creeps into my heart when I think about the future, and what our relationship might look like during those tumultuous teenage years if I can’t seem to get things “right” in the here and now.
Usually after rough nights like this one, I find myself trying to rush through the bedtime routine. As I physically close the door to your room, I want to mentally close the door on all that just went wrong between us. I want to be able to quickly shut down the anxious thoughts swirling in my head and escape the heaviness that weighs on my heart as I try to cope with feelings of inadequacy. I want to flip off the parenting switch for a while and let my weary mind rest.
But tonight, I didn’t allow myself to leave in a hurry. I lingered in your room. I laid with you for longer than usual. I stroked your hair until you fell asleep. Instead of running from my feelings, I just let them wash over me. And as you drifted off into a sweet slumber, I studied your face. I counted your freckles. I listened to your breath and watched your chest rise and fall. And I let my mind drift back to those days before you came to be. The months of negative pregnancy tests and the rising fear that gripped my chest each night that I lay awake, wondering if there would ever be a baby in my empty arms. I remembered the shock and elation I felt when one of those tests finally said positive and the pure joy that spilled out when I told your dad. I remembered how magical it was the first time I felt you move and how you always seemed to know exactly when I needed to feel you kick. I remembered the first time I held you against me. I knew in that instant that my life had changed forever.
My tears fell on your pillow tonight as I remembered those times. Because when we are in the midst of a struggle, it is easy to lose sight of the raw and true connection that we have always shared. It is easy to get frustrated with your stubbornness, while I grapple with trying to control my own. It is easy to let my anger and frustration do the talking. And it is too easy to feel like I have somehow failed you.
But as I laid next to you tonight, studying the sweet face that has peered up at me countless times over the last several years, I flashed back to when I first saw that face in the moments after you were born. With your tiny body pressed against mine, my tears spilled onto you. I knew that a miracle had just been placed on my chest. I knew I would love you until my last breath. I knew that I didn’t have all the answers, but that somehow it would all be OK. And laying next to you tonight, sharing that sacred space in the quiet of your room, I felt the exact same way.
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