I took a picture today. An idyllic, charming spring time portrait of a child’s whimsy. The kind of picture that you share and know becomes a moment of blue skies.
I didn’t share the photo, because it was forcing a moment. I was looking for something after struggling and it lacked substance and accuracy of the life snapshot.
As a parent, fear can be your greatest enemy. Fear of damaging the life you’re guiding and supporting. Melancholy at whether you’re doing it right; and the resounding realization that you’ll never truly know what right or wrong even mean in that role.
The child in that photo was transfixed on a popsicle; sun on his cheeks and determination in his posture. A bright spring day, which allowed kids to play outside and parents to enjoy the distraction.
The child in that photo has made me cry three times in the last week.
I know it’s possibly seen as irresponsible; potentially out of line to place blame on my child for tears. But just as my scolding can prompt hysterics in them, their interactions can sometimes bring me emotional breaks.
Children are bundles of unstable ends coming together. Forming the chapters that start the story of who they’ll be in the future. But for now they’re messy, raw, pure and kindling next to gasoline and matches.
He defies me, shows no remorse for actions, spits attitude at me with gusto and pomposity. He’s his mother’s child in his stubbornness, but hasn’t yet learned you can’t just use it in ways that don’t consider others.
And as I sit in the car, as he says he hates his brother and looks at me with intensity of disrespect, I break down. There has been minimal time I haven’t been raising my voice, or feeling exhausted or like sometimes the weight is a test I’m not sure I’ll ever stop taking.
As my parenting comes into doubt surrounding the situations, it’s very apt to bleed over to my everyday life and choices and doubting myself as a whole. Overanalyzing, mulling over as verbosely as I write.
I stared at that picture and behind it was capturing a moment I wanted to make normalcy while knowing I was merely hanging onto the pieces that gave me the heart swells. To balance the heartache at wanting to be perfect. Life metaphor, perhaps and cloying at that.
The same kid stands at the door, the door I’ve asked of them no less than fifty times to leave closed and he looks small and whimsical and pure. My heart fills and expands like a water balloon in my chest and I hug him. He tells me I’m his favorite thing. I want this to be my memento.
Moments later we hit the downswing and his impetuous actions arise that seem to be what I’m always battling and I feel the moment make me exhale with failure.
And these are our days, rushes of love from a truly kind soul that are combated by unbridled, complex emotional development at its messy worst.
There are the days where I just wonder if I’m fucking up the whole damn thing. Days where I realize there could be moments of this I reflect on when it’s been five, ten, twenty years and I won’t know the lessons until then. Moments where I hope I’m not the only one; that I’m not the roost cause and/or precipitant of what’s happening. Whether for the environment I provide; the selfish moments. If my hurdles have become theirs by default. The moments where I sit and absorb the moment and just feel helpless.
I want the knowledge that he is one of my favorite things be enough to make everything okay. The sage advice “this too shall pass” is slightly inaccurate. Because parenting doesn’t pass. That’s the best part of it. It’s always a part of you. You fight the fight together and come out on the other side hopefully as beautiful humans.
Your favorite things are sometimes your favorites because they’re not only unique to you; but also because they take more work to get and the reward is having them. Your favorite things are the pictures that are left behind. Childhood memories of bright blue skies.