In the hardest things we do-love sees us through. I have to believe this, especially TODAY.
My grief following the passing of my father has been consistently inconsistent. Some days (like today) it looks like anger and impatience with the people I cherish most- the souls that look to me to be strong and balanced. Other days it looks like aloofness, over busyness, silence, exasperation, or head under water-drowning in emotion-but always love. The worst is when it “sneak attacks me” and just shows up, “seemingly out of nowhere” hijacking my mood and my sanity.
Sadly, today was one of those days. I had a few maniac mom moments. I’m not proud of this, but I’m also not going to benefit from shaming myself. Let’s face it-we are all a little broken and sometimes that gets the best of us.
Although I pride myself on purposeful and patient parenting (most days) my broken parts took the lead today and it wasn’t pretty. I was a full-fledged, raging MOMSTER.
I swore at my children. Like the big, bad bomber. Even my eldest’s “classy mom” remark didn’t slow me down.
I flung open the door to the patio and threw a nerf gun into the dark yard because if I heard that sound one more time after saying “please stop” ten times, my head was literally going to explode. With the rush of the frigid air on my face, and my sanity escaping me, I released it like a quarterback in the middle of a night game under the BIG LIGHTS. And it felt good. Really good. I was possessed.
It was not in fact a shining moment for me but….it was both a physical and emotional release. Like a bottle that had just been uncorked and could finally breathe in something other than stale air. Yet, this cathartic moment was short-lived. I was still reeling. I felt as though I was hanging onto the edge of the cliff.. petrified and unsure of what I would do next. Time seemed to collapse and I could feel every sensation more vividly piercing my awareness, yet I couldn’t get a grip on my own emotional lability in the moment. Was I suddenly starring in a slow-motion movie?
Then I cried, hard. Like sniffling and snorting hard. I was mortified by my own behavior, I actually scared myself that day. But when I finally allowed the tears to flow, they seemed to wash away the shame and omnipresent mom guilt and trade those feelings for a quiet peace and understanding that this messiness is exactly what losing someone we hold so dear can look like. It’s what it means to have grief infiltrate our hearts and minds on a random Tuesday night seemingly out of nowhere. It leaves you feeling jaded and openly exposed all over again.. like a gaping wound you can feel so intensely but no one else can see.
Grief had me on the floor today and even my babies may have thought I was going to give up. But I didn’t. I succumbed to the sadness; yes, but I did not permit it to overtake me. The floor was hard and cold, my cheeks were wet, my children were in shock, and I needed to get a grip. I’m their parent, I’m the one privileged to lead them, and I was no longer willing to succumb to forces inside myself vering me off track from the task at hand.
So I got up, brushed myself off, and started over. I failed them miserably today. But then I ROSE up. I planted my feet firmly on the ground and decided to literally stop the madness. I harnessed control from the depths of my being and pulled myself together…I had to flip the switch.
Perhaps you’ve been in a similar place-most of us have experienced this at one time or another. Often as women, we TIPTOE around grief and continue in our roles doing “all the things for all the people” in our lives until it literally bowls us over, reminding us that it’s not humanly possible to continue our fast and furious pace without acknowledgement that part of our soul is now MISSING. We can’t simply press on as we once were because we will never, in fact, BE THAT AGAIN.
We are forever changed, and at times, our grief serves as a wake up call of sorts. One that “knocks some sense into us” and reminds us that these things cannot and should not be under the rug swept. They belong to us, and therefore, they have their place in our here and now. Because they are serving up lessons we never wanted to learn but we MUST. They are begging for our attention and sometimes, like today, forcing our hand.
The lesson here is that although I was knocked down today, I didn’t stay there pinned and helpless-I didn’t wallow for long. I picked myself up and made reparations. I said I was sorry, recognizing that I was out of my mind momentarily, and guess what, my babies got it and they embraced me.
Even though they haven’t been schooled by much loss in their short lives, they understood because it came from my heart-a fragile and vulnerable one that is trying to figure this darn grief thing out and still run a family and work and play and just be. I don’t have the answers but I do know that no matter how crazy it gets LOVE always wins. I believe that wholeheartedly.
So… I wiped the tears away, kissed those beautiful faces, told my boys we’d recover the launched gun in the morning (chuckled with them for a moment that I have a really good arm “for a girl”), apologized to my daughter for snapping at her and making her stand to do her homework, and most of all, I told them I loved them. Because that’s what matters most of all.
I told them that with every fiber of my being, from the brim of my nose to the tip of my toes-I love you all. I assured them that that will never change, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Even when it’s ugly and messy-I love you. That light will always shine through and will never cease until I take my very last breath. I also admitted that sometimes I just miss Papa so much that it makes me flood with so many emotions all at once, and that it’s hard for me to contain them. Because that was the truth. And do you know what happened next? They welcomed me with open arms and eyes brimming with hope and LOVE. We embraced, gripping tightly to one another for stability and the shared connectedness that we all desperately needed. The result was an instantaneous feeling of peace and hope and love that simply defies words. They missed him too. Their hearts ached for him too. And this “knowing” created a pathway for both empathy and compassion to come to the forefront in this complex and chaotic situation. Without a single spoken word, they communicated that they understood and that it was ok to NOT be OK sometimes. Even and especially for a mom who prides herself on being just that for them and everyone she loves dearly. They somehow just knew in that moment, that grief is messy and that the most important thing one can do is to simply BE THERE for those you love as they figure out how to navigate it. Through those heartfelt embraces, empathetic gazes and gentle hands extended to mine, they conveyed their much-needed love and support. And I came to realize that although this grief journey may be unpredictable and exasperating (for all of us) sometimes, it will also be a beautiful opportunity to solidify our bond more deeply-as we traverse the bounds of our love for one another.
And all at once, within this massive chaos came a ray of CLARITY. This anger I was experiencing was just my LOVE turned inside out. It spilled all over my precious babies today because they are most special to me-we share a vulnerability and unparalleled mutual connectedness (which is the substrate for the depth of emotional experience-both good and bad). That is the price of our relationship investment. We’ve created a bond that can endure the good, the bad, and the complete MOMSTER moments. And for that, dare I say, I am proud.
We unleash our dark side with the people who matter most because they are SAFE. We would never, ever do this to those we do not share such an intimate connection with. We just wouldn’t. And so it goes…..grief appears to be love with a limited capacity to be EXPRESSED. It builds and builds and then, sometimes…it bursts.
Loving FULLY doesn’t mean it’s always pretty. Loving fully can be raw and wild, just as it was for me today. But it IS love nevertheless. And the capacity for my children to forgive in the insanity that accompanies profound loss is just another blessing that love provides.
So…. it does in fact, see us through. And if we let it, it can LEAD our lives in the most spectacular of ways. Today, tomorrow, and evermore.
With Big Much Love,