It’s been a half an hour now since I tucked you into bed and you sniffled once and twice and said “you didn’t carry ME to bed. You carried Qiao Qiao,” and then broke into full fledged sobs. And I kissed you as I always do and said all the I love you’s but you just cried through it all and here, as I sit typing, you cry still. Sometimes the cry is desperately sad, sometimes infuriated, sometimes tired, as if you wish to be done but cannot give up now. For this battle of tears appears to need a winner. But I know there is no winner or loser: only grief and tired and heartache and joy and laughter and the grind of daily becoming family.
With all my heart I wish to go to you and hold you. I wish to make it all well. I wish that what you needed right now was to be rocked and cuddled, to have your tears kissed away. But somehow I know that is exactly what you don’t need. These are not tears meant to be kissed away. They must be shed. You must express what is inside of you; the anger, the fear, the sadness, all the unknowns, the frustrations and the tiredness.
And so I stop in every few minutes, stroke your back a time or two, tell you, “shhh, it’s okay”, kiss your head. I hand you tissues and when you seem willing to work yourself up to vomiting I bring you a bowl. I do my very best to tell you the biggest truth: I am still here.
I ask you why you cry and you just sob loudly, unanswering, unlooking. I ask you if you are angry with me, if you are sad. I ask if you miss China or you wish you had gotten your homework done. All of it falls on your deaf ears, on your angry wail. And so I just say simply “you don’t know why you are crying. It’s okay to cry.”
But of course it doesn’t really feel okay. Never really feels okay to hear your child cry, to know that they are not all well, to know that there is pain inside, and that it must come out.
It’s been a day of course, like every day. Full of it’s fun and also it’s difficulties. We’ve fought as we always do, about the silliest of things: whether I will hold you RIGHT NOW and why you are second to be served at dinner. You dilly dallied forever on your homework, and you never finished, and your consequence is no ipad tomorrow, and the thought is almost worse than death, I know that.
I got frustrated, yes angry. I rolled my eyes once or twice at least. I said ” oh my gosh!!” and you mimicked me so that I really heard myself. I grew tired of having you tell me that my computer was “no good” and THAT was why you couldn’t do your homework. I gave you a time out. I walked away sighing and I whispered all my frustration to your Daddy in the hallway.
Oh, but I’M STILL HERE.
I am not perfect. Not angelic. I cannot always remain calm, unmoved by your anger, your impatience, your demands and your disobedience. But I AM STILL HERE. I will always be here. I may not take you out of bed when you cry but I will stay right here. I may not take away your consequences but I will be with you as you bear them. I may not be able to hold you every time you ask but I will not run away. I may not always like you but I will always love you. This is my promise to you.
You cannot drive me away with your fears or your anger, your cries or your acts of destruction. You cannot make me love you more with your twinkle eyes and your kisses. I am just here. I am your mother. I love you and I will not leave.
This is my promise. Simple, frail, broken and whispered. My heart hurts and I know yours does too. But I AM STILL HERE.