He gets it from me. Maybe I gave it to him on accident, through the genetic concoction which gave him those gorgeous brown eyes and that caramel skin. Or maybe he saw me do it when I’ve failed the resistance against my tendencies. When I’m hurting deep I get angry and look for something (or someone) to blame. I look for a place to land my blows. I’ve got 27 years on him and I still throw tantrums.
That night he took issue with my placement of grapes on his plate. It was during another dinner far from his table, far from his dad and his dog and the place he calls “home” from the back of our van when his introverted mind is tired of the park. We were there indefinitely for a family emergency and all the things he doesn’t understand – the circumstances, the feelings, what he senses in the grown-ups – came out in violent screams as he angrily hurled the strongest weapons in his arsenal at me. I don’t always get the way he speaks – don’t always see that his heart is coming out in whines and scowls and adamant protests. I don’t always listen closely enough, but this time I recognized something of mine.
So I did what I need done for me. I held him tight so he knew he had help while I carried him briskly down the hall to the room where a trundle bed had become his safe space. Once there he wanted out of my arms – he needed to be so mad at me, disgusted with my presence, but he also wouldn’t let me leave. So I crouched all the way to his eye-level (nobody needs to be looked down on while he is trying to do the brave and deal with scary things). I held his gaze when he wouldn’t let me hold his body and every last part of me watched him. He lodged all the fury his tiny hands could hold, his spirit tormented by an ignorance which can’t be enlightened just yet, and I gave him a place to throw his arrows. I kept focused attention on him and spoke softly while I caught every single one. Because I can’t change what life is dealing right now. I can’t take away the tension and the confusion, but I can do this. I can take some hits for my boy. I can look at him in the eyes while he screams at me, pausing to inhale with searching, painful, perplexity in between the firing and I can tell him he’s safe, tell him I get it.
Because I do.
And if the things I’ve learned are true – the things I believed at the time were Divine and sacred, things my soul confirmed in dancing gratitude – than God is a Mother and she’s taking my hits right now. She’s crouched down to my level in the dark and she’s letting me throw my worst at her.
Sometimes I am so tired, so scared, so sad that I just need someone to hear me roar and whimper. I need someone to stand witness to my rail against everything I have no say in. To everything I just. don’t. understand. Sometimes I need to ask God what the fuck is going on and I don’t really get an answer – I haven’t yet anyway – but I do get solidarity. I’ve studied and contemplated and prayed for some enlightenment, but the best I come back with is that I’m not alone. That life can be brutal and confusing as hell, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.
After a while he stopped screaming. He crumpled into my arms and we cried and I spoke into his hair things I know he won’t get, but are true nonetheless. I listed off everything I could think of that hurt him so badly and I didn’t try to make them go away because they are his. I just gave the feelings names and let them tumble around the room. We emerged together with puffy eyes and resumed the living and doing and being.
My kid needed to ask, even if I couldn’t give him an answer. He needed someone to see that he’s here and he’s finding it hard to be okay. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was kneeling in something sacred. I’d stumbled into something holy and the room became a sanctuary, the trundle bed an altar. I got to tell him what has meant the deepest form of Life for me: that he is seen completely and loved throughout. That he is not alone and that Love can take hits.
And I’ll lean into the hope gleaned from my own confused crumpling that what I’m teaching him is true.