Wild came on TV this weekend. All my friends have seen it, and suggested that I would like it. That’s the movie where Reese Witherspoon deals with all the crap in her life as she walks 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest trail. It wrecked me! Like, three semi-trucks hitting at full speed kind of wrecked. Like, I went crying to my daughters room to apologize for getting sick and abandoning her last year kind of wrecked. I expected to remember my Camino trip, to miss hiking, to cry a little. I did not know it would kill my soul! Part of the story is about the main character’s mom dying of cancer and her very negative reaction to it. Over the last six months I have considered how each of my children have reacted differently to my illness. Deacon asks, “is it contagious” and “can it kill you” about each new disease he hears. He shares every cut and scratch he gets with everyone who will listen. Emma got silent, so I hear. My dad said she lost her sense of humor while we were gone, but it is back full force. She’s a stuffer. She isn’t one to open up and share her feelings, at least not with me. She says she can talk to her dad more. (Yes, this kills me a little bit because my mom was so good at listening to my teenage woes, but I’m thankful for her relationship with Cary.) . Ty didn’t talk about my cancer, other than the occasional joke one of us would crack before treatments started or after my return (because humor is how my family deals with stress… humor or yelling). He still doesn’t talk about it. This summer though, he depressed. He said he didn’t worry about me, that he knew I would be okay, but this summer, I think all the being strong caught up with him. He seems to be dealing with life fine now. I never considered how I supported them (or didn’t support them) through my illness. We tried to protect them. We didn’t mention the “C” word for a few weeks. We didn’t cry in front of them, or get emotional. Honestly, I didn’t really get emotional often at all. We assured them that I was going to be okay, and it wasn’t a lie. I fully believed it was simply something to get through. It was something to get through, but this hasn’t been simple. We were gone. We were in Houston for almost 2 months.
Here’s the deal: I’m not one of those moms who is all about her kids. I want to be. I feel horrific guilt over it, but I’m not. I don’t understand women who rush home after a day with friends like their heart is missing something. It takes me well over a week to miss them if I travel. Coming home after time away is painful because of the physical and emotional drain to meet their needs (this is greatly improving as they get older, but I swear “Mom, I want milk” sometimes feels like a threat to my sanity). When I travel, I may wish they were with me to experience something I experience or to share a common memory, but I don’t long to be home with them. I don’t lose sleep, and I don’t get sad about it. I know… I suck!! I’ve almost deleted this paragraph 3 times while writing it, but I blog to be honest and transparent, not to be perfect…
I say all of this to say: I don’t call every night when I travel for work. I don’t even call Cary every night when I travel for work. We may text, they call when they need something, but that’s kind of the extent of it. So, as I am watching this movie I am realizing that I didn’t talk to my kids that much when I was in Houston. I slept through a lot of that time, so I don’t remember how often. I started to realize that they must have felt abandoned, at least to some degree, during that time. I know their grandparents love them and cared for them, but it doesn’t change the fact that their parents went missing and normalcy went out the window. When I was apologizing to Em for getting sick and leaving her here to deal with the stress alone, she agreed with me. She felt very alone. She doesn’t blame me for getting sick or going for treatments, but she does recognize the loneliness if it all. I’m thankful she recognizes that. It will make it easier to heal from later, when she is ready to work through all this. I wish I could force her, all of my kids actually, to have a SOZO to deal with our last year, but they have to walk their own path to spiritual healing. Right? Seriously, my SOZO friends, can I force this issue?
It’s funny how you walk through life and you think you’re doing fine, then something benign happens, and you realize you’re not okay. Something is broken, and you don’t know how to fix it. As I watched the movie and cried WAY more that was reasonable, my very astute spouse looked at me and said, “Are you okay?”. I did what all women would do. I said, “I’m fine”, as I walked into the kitchen to make my tea. Then, I decided not to stuff it. I walked back in my bedroom, buried my head in his chest and said, “I’m not fine.” Then I unloaded the barrel. I said all the things I hadn’t yet let myself think: What if this comes back? What if we have to do Houston again? Do you realize I abandoned my children and I didn’t send you home to take care of them? To give them some normalcy? What kind of mother does that? I didn’t even call them every night? Who does that?
He is a very good man, and the peace he exudes when I’m losing my mind only heightens my understanding that I am the one who got the better end of the marriage deal. He comforted me with reminders of how tired I really was, how badly I really felt, and that I could hardly talk sometimes. He wrapped those big strong arms around me and let me cry. He let me mourn. Because he really is almost perfect (don’t tell him… it will go to his head).
Speaking of Spiritual Healing I tell all my friends turning 30 to hire a therapist, learn a SOZO lifestyle, and go to RTF. (We haven’t been to Restoring the Foundations, but it has been life changing for several people I know. We just need to save the money and find the time off work!) I feel like 30ish is the age when you can’t fake it any more without major damage. That is the point where if you continue to stuff the pain and misunderstandings from childhood, you will self-destruct or spend a lifetime hurting other people unintentionally. Sometimes I look at my kids and their friends (especially the teenagers) and think, “These are the things you’re going to tell your therapist about.” The truth is, no matter how well I do this mom thing, they are going to have baggage. If I do it all right (and I don’t, as shown in the previous paragraphs) they will spend their lives comparing either themselves or their wives to me, and that will be a disaster. If I protect them from all the things that caused me pain, they will just find something else to be hurt by. So, there is a balance between hands-off parenting and wrapping them in bubble wrap that can only be achieved by listening to the Holy Spirit as often as you can remember that He is always with you, every moment.
Tonight I taught the kids at GUMC. I shared my favorite Bible testimony. I love hearing about Gideon. Gideon didn’t have a clue who God created him to be. He didn’t have faith in himself, and he didn’t believe God had an answer for the struggles his family was facing, but God… Gideon learned that he can hear God, all the time. He learned to obey his voice, and he had victory in life. Not because of his strength or intelligence or charisma, but because of his humility and obedience. I had the kids chant two things for me tonight: 1. I can hear God. 2. When things look impossible, God can take care of it. That’s true of cancer, that’s true of abandonment, that’s true of huge mistakes you don’t know how to overcome. That’s true for adults too. We can hear God, and when things look impossible, he has it all under control. Take a few minutes. Chant it under your breath. If you really get brave, yell it out loud over and over like my 10 little warriors did tonight. Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.