Let me tell you about my friend the Texan.
I met her online on a Mommy message board and from the moment we started talking, I knew she was one of the most amazing people in the world. When I mentioned that my middle child was colicky and didn’t want to be put down, I was surprised with a Peanut Shell sling in the mail, for no other reason than I had a need and she wanted to fill it. I was blown away by her generosity. She showed me through this and our many conversations that she was the living embodiment of the true Christian; someone who loved her neighbour as herself and wanted to be a shining example of God’s love.
When my eldest daughter began her struggles, the Texan was the only person I spoke to. It was nothing against my other friends, but it’s hard to explain these issues when you’ve never lived through them. I’ve been a mom for almost 12 years and I still would never have been able to relate to a parent in this situation until I’ve been here myself. However, the Texan offered me constructive advice and is quick to check in with me on counselling days, which are particularly draining for my child and I. While I enjoy these days, as it helps me come up with an action plan to better meet my children’s needs, it’s still difficult to hear her sob for someone and something that she sees as so easy and she doesn’t understand why I won’t just reach out and make it happen. She likens what she wants to her favourite book romance (Stefan and Elena from the Vampire Diaries; I won’t let her watch the show. Too many hearts being ripped out), and that no matter how long the separations, the love doesn’t die and if I would just make a phone call, that person will show up @ the door & it can be worked out and she’ll get her real family. Of course, real life doesn’t work that way & her dream scenario of him coming back to be with us out of the blue is more of a fairy tale. Of course, that doesn’t stop her from believing every knock @ the door, every time the phone rings, this time it’s him. This time, he’ll be standing there saying he’ll be with us. But the Texan is the one who helps me understand that the guilt I feel is normal, that it’ll be okay and that my efforts to make things better (the counselling, the yoga, the journalling, extracurricular activities, etc.) are all effective strategies to improve things, help with the resentment she feels that I won’t make that phone call that she’s begged me to make for months, because I’m afraid & why don’t grown ups act brave for once, admit they’re wrong, that they love each other & be a family. That way she and her sisters don’t need to be sad anymore. The Texan doesn’t question my choice to fall on my sword as it were, letting her think it’s my refusal to reach out that keeps her from having the person she feels is the best person ever so she won’t feel rejected, because he promised her when he brought her a birthday gift that he’d never leave her ever again. The Texan understands it’s to protect my child…& preserve the memory of the person who was once the most important adult in the world to me (& my natural instinct to shoulder the blame for everything & believing that the people I care about are good. Protect and defend the ones I love, even @ the expense of myself. That’s the MH way). The Texan often mentions continued prayer to help me get through the rough parts by reminding me that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and I’m so grateful for her guidance. She’s like the coolest older sister figure ever. She’s the one who suggested I blog about these struggles, so I wouldn’t feel so alone; that other parents feel this way sometimes too.
While sitting in church on Sunday, the Reverend mentioned a verse that hit home for me and really helped me gain perspective on a lot of things.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Whether you believe in a higher power or you don’t, one must remember that the world will not give us more than we can handle. While this may not always have been true, one thing I’ve tried to remind myself is that clearly God has a lot of faith in me as a person. After all, if God won’t give us more than we can handle, then clearly he trusts me to thrive in situations that most people would look at and want no part of. This is the lesson that my amazing friend reminds me of when I lose my way. So, I look at some of the things that I struggle with, from parenting to employment to friendships and some days, even my own sanity as opportunities to grow, to be challenged. Instead of begging God for help, I’m going to thank him for trusting me to tackle these things and rise to the occasion. So, thank you my friend, for being a wise older sister, fortune teller and all around amazing person during times of triumph and tribulations. Thanks for reminding me to welcome these things and be thankful for struggles, for they shape us and make us strong, make us hopeful. We should welcome the darkness because when it’s over, we’ll be more grateful for the gifts we are given. After all, darkness helps us build character. These trying times have helped me discover who I am standing on my own feet, not with anyone to “protect” me and I’m holding up okay. These times have helped shape my parenting style, helping me learn to keep a cool head, which has helped me during challenging times such as exams. There was no panic, simply rising to the occasion and my grades reflected my efforts. Darkness will help me appreciate things as they come, and I will see them as gifts and cherish them, and not wait for the shoe to drop. So, I’m thankful and grateful that the universe trusts me to hold up the world like Atlas, for it will make me a better person in the end.
I may not be the perfect mother or the perfect friend. I may not be a superhuman machine. But I am a mom, a friend, a journalist and a law clerk and a good person and that’s all I need to be, and I have an amazing role model to show me how to embrace those things.
You’re amazing Texan, and I love you.