The lyrics to the song Billie is making up right now:
“If you want to take my time
You’ve got to change my life
Yea, if you’re gunna take my time
Then you’ve got to change your mind
Yea booty booty booty booty booty booty booty…”
So basically my kid is Usher.
Before this month we had never really met the three year old boy in the apartment above us. He’s lived there for over a year but, despite our many efforts to set up a play date, we very rarely saw him.
Then, three weeks ago, his father passed away.
The mother and grandmother asked us for help so, for the last 3 weeks we’ve been watching him a couple days out of the week, 5-8 hours each time.
In all that time, he’s said 3 words to me. He refused to speak or look me in the eyes. I rarely saw him smile.
But today we had a breakthrough. He hugged me. He told me jokes. We chased squirrels together. He accidentally called me “mommy.”
Billie noticed the change, too. She said, “Wow. You’re smiling now and you have so many words!”
He responded, “Yea. My smile is getting fixed slowly. I have words now.”
I’m doing everything I can not to bubble snot cry on this here playground. That kid just showed me that it’s possible for the heart to shatter and heal at the same time.
Someone once told me: “You should not become a teacher unless you are prepared to get your heart shattered every day.”
I truly believe that advice. It’s one of the reasons I stopped teaching, because I had had my heart shattered twice by what my students were going through and that was enough for me. I just wasn’t strong enough.
…But no one told me that the same held true for parenting.
That there would be moments when my heart would get so wrecked that I wouldn’t even be able to breathe.
And some of it is bittersweet and some of it is devastating but all of it is incredibly painful.
And I am glad that nobody told me how painful it was going to be. I’m glad that they left these moments as a surprise. Because, as devastating as they are, they are also the most rich and beautiful moments I could’ve ever imagined. They completely engulf and enflame you until you’re unable to accept any reality other than the one your child is living in. They connect you to a pain so simultaneously punishing and affirming that it actually breathes life into every embrace and makes every touch, every kiss, every giggle that much more crucial to your existence.
It’s the kind of pain that torches your gut and tickles your skin.
It’s a pain born of love. Of selflessness. Of complete and utter insanity.
And it’s fucking beautiful, ya’ll.
And maybe I am strong enough.
Thanks, Billie. Mommy loves you.