If My Child Loves Yours

{This is a response to “if my child marries yours,” a post that was shared on my Facebook feed a few times. I didn’t gush about warm feelings or leave comments about my mommy tears. I felt left out.}

If my child loves yours…

Another writer wrote, very recently, that she is “pretty sure that our longest days – the ones that are brim-full with hair-pulling moments, impossible messes, and toddler meltdowns – those are the days that we are fashioning hearts.” I really like that. “Fashioning hearts.” Their hearts beat before we can feel these beings move, within us, or within the women who birthed them. My child lets his joy flow freely, and his frustration, too, and I hope to help him fashion a heart that will always be so open.

I write to heal the small hurt I feel when I acknowledge the probability that, if we met tomorrow, this other writer mother would not welcome me into her life with open arms, and as long as I’m being honest, I would hesitate, too. I hesitate and put up my guard, when I meet Christians who have buildings to pray in, on Sundays, and communities that stretch around the world. I have not found my internal path to be a comforting one, nor have I found a place in the community built around its church. But my soul knows that this is my path. I feel a mixture of envy and of fear that my own path will find too little respect for a friendship to grow, with a parent like this writer, if my child loves hers.

I thank this other writer and mother, because she inspired me to write this. No, I did not see myself in her prayer. In moments like that quote about the longest days fashioning hearts, and her desire for a multitude of baby photos to swap, I see a mother I might know… I write with love for her, even though I am a little bit angry, because if my child loves her child and creates a family with her child, I know that I will long for us to be friends, and to support that family together, wholeheartedly. The only way I know how to cross a bridge so wide is with love, the kind that’s deeper than words and appears, behind my eyes, as light.

My ability to see the people she leaves out of her prayer doesn’t make me a superior being. I am one of those left out, and so I see gaps. I want to write my own hope prayer that includes her and every mother and father whose child may one day grow up to love mine. After all, the toddler who will grow up to carry my son’s heart may have two fathers, or two mothers, or one of each, or just one parent. I want to include everyone, because I do not feel included.

All the same, it is wonderful to send love and friendship, right now, to the people who are raising my son’s future love, to the parents of the person with whom he will build his own family. I write this for you, wherever you are, knowing so little about you, and yet so much, because we are all parents.

Today was one of the hair-tearing, messy toddler days, for me, and we both cried, at one point. It might have been for you, whatever that looks like for you, wherever you are. My hope prayer is that you, too, received a gem to hold; my baby said his first grammatical sentence, noun and verb together, with no words missing, today. I hope that something like this, a milestone or just an unexpected hug, lifted your heart.

My hope is a prayer, and my prayer is silent. I don’t go to a building on a Sunday. My path has been internal, and I find that God feels closest to me when I can hear the voice of Intuition, which I believe is the voice of the Holy Spirit, whose other name is Om. When I think of you, awake with anxious insomnia, a sick child, a child who won’t sleep for some reason you’ll never know, or even sleeping peacefully while I sit here, typing, I imagine you surrounded by a light that brings peace and comfort. I send a whisper from the part of my soul that remembers that we are made from God, to the part of your soul that knows it, too. My heart sends love to your heart, in the hope that this will slow your racing mind. I have never met a mother whose mind easily slows down, while raising a toddler, so I think you probably need that, just as much as I do.

Because I am a writer, my hope prayer carries no words; these are merely the best words I have to convey parts of it. If words could say enough, I would be out of a job.

I hope that you make your home a welcoming, warm, place, whether it overflows with material wealth, or whether its cupboards are bare. My hope prayer carries no words, because my language may not be your language. Whatever language you speak in your home, your child must learn to love, to be vulnerable, to cherish the family that you have created together, and so you must create a home, whatever it looks like, that promises safety. Perhaps we look alike, and we both worry about too many activities, or too little enrichment. Too much socialization, or too little. My hope prayer does not need words to send you a plea for a safe, warm home and unconditional love, because these are universal longings. Listen to that voice, straight from God, telling you to love, to hold close, to keep safe.

My hope prayer wraps your family, whatever it looks like, in its warming light; whether you are married, or not, raising a child who shares some of your DNA, or none of it, I hope that you feel, often, the touch of unconditional partner love. Our children will find their way more comfortably, if we model a loving partnership for them. But mostly, I hope that you have this precious thing, and that you keep it forever, because it is a very nice thing to have. Support and commitment from a partner strengthen a parent’s heart.

Whether my son loves your daughter or your son, I send this hope prayer out into their futures: may we love them so fiercely that they never doubt their family.

Whether you recognize your God in my church, or cannot find Him/Her/them there, I send a hope prayer out into the future that you understand me when I tell you, “I show him faith, the deepest faith I feel.”

Whether or not we immediately like each other, I hope that we grow to be friends as we watch our children build families of their own. They say that children need roots and wings, so my hope prayer includes the desire for shared moments of joy that they have had strong roots and of excitement that they want to use strong wings (mixed, of course, with fear that they will feel pain).

Whether or not we share a familiar celebration, like a wedding with a bride and a groom, I send my hope prayer into the future for a celebration in our heart of hearts that our children are brave enough to undertake this wild journey that is creating new family.

 

canoe

4 Comments

  1. Em said:

    I am so glad I found this. You were one of the few who posted critiques of my post with a way for me to find you, rather than remaining anonymous. I am so grateful for that.

    Please feel my sincerity when I say that I am so sorry. Please know that my intention was never to hurt or exclude, but when I read my post back, I can see how it comes across that way to many. I feel sad about that. And I love what you have written here. Thank you for thinking so critically about my piece and for taking the time and energy to create something. As beautiful as this piece is, I am sad that it was fueled by pain that I caused.

    I wish that we knew each other, that we could sit down together and talk because I think you would find that my heart is considerably more open than you might think. I will not try to convince you of that though, because the small piece of my heart that you read when you read my blog was a powerful one, one that’s hard to look beyond. I think I get that.

    I also wish that you knew more about my own family background and my husband’s background. I wish that you could see that neither of the legacies that we come from are perfect. They are full of addiction, abuse and a whole host of other stains. I hope to talk about these things in my blog at some point, but that would require me to get the permission of those I share these painful stories with. I hope that happens sometime, but it might not.

    I wish you the best…and more.

    October 16, 2014
    Reply
    • Oh, I’m near tears reading this! I never leave anonymous comments. And I tried to be careful to express my fears and questions, rather than make assumptions about you. THANK YOU for writing that post, because not only did it inspire me to think deeply about something so complicated, and then to write this, but it also inspired some fiction I’m working on, now.

      I hope that I meet you, one day. If you go to a blogging conference, I might be there, and I would hug you! You did not “cause” the pain I felt; feeling excluded as a child has left lingering doubts about fitting in as an adult, and some surprise that those feelings might become even stronger, when my child begins a family of his own. It was nothing specific to you, and I hope that I wasn’t too harsh. I didn’t imagine you’d even reply to my comment, one of hundreds, let alone visit this space.

      Only kind things were said about you, even in person, with the people I asked about this idea. I wish all mothers gave each other the benefit of the doubt, and listened, the way we have. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back. I’m just so touched that you took the time to reflect and to craft a thoughtful response.

      October 16, 2014
      Reply
      • Em said:

        Okay, now I’m near tears! I’m hoping to go to BlogHer next year. Will you be there???

        Your words here were so beautiful. Looking forward to reading more of what you have to say. I love, love, love the way you are open about mental health and the way you talk about Proud Welfare Mom. You go, lady!

        October 16, 2014
        Reply
        • Anne-Marie said:

          It depends on where they put BlogHer next year. I will be at the Mom 2.0 Summit, which is near my mom’s house in 2015, and affordable for the first time. :)

          We’ll meet up, sometime!

          October 18, 2014
          Reply

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