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>On Wearing Your Heart on the Outside

May 26, 2010


I never want him to know rejection. Or hurt of any kind. I want to keep him from suffering, from malice, from pain.

I want to wrap him in a cocoon and keep him there until he’s 25 or 30. And then present him with the perfect partner, and marry them off so they can live happily ever after.

But I can’t. And my heart, like Anne Lamott says, is destined – cursed – to be carried on the outside of my chest forever.

I want to keep them safe. To keep them from cruelty and harm.

I want them to never know hurt or betrayal or hate.

But I can’t. I am powerless to protect them.

Life will happen, no matter what I do.

I can prepare them, as best I can, in my flawed and oh-so-very-human way. Or, I can shield them, blind them, and rob them of the ability to cope with reality.

Why, oh why, does it have to hurt so much? They don’t tell you this in the parenting books. They don’t warn you that your suffering will always be greater than theirs. That every wound they experience will hurt you doubly so.

June is coming, and with that two birthdays. I ache with sadness and with joy. Joy that they are growing, learning, accomplishing great things. Immeasureable sadness that, with each passing year, I am less able to bind and heal their wounds.

A band-aid won’t always do, any more.

So, I sit on the sidelines, and I cheer and shout when they succeed, and I cry and hold them when they fail, and I pray that those failures will be few and their joys will be many.

And my heart beats on, bleeding and sore, out there in the open for everyone to see.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 4:11 am

    >Oh my… I remember those exact feelings when I was a young mother. Some years get more difficult, my friend, but the joys also get greater. Take comfort in that, and always remember that whatever you give to God, He is fully able to take care of.

  2. May 26, 2010 1:16 pm

    >Aww..this was so sweet! And yet, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing my 19 year old rise above hurt, stand on his convictions, do good without being told, and enjoying life. Nothing fills a moms heart better than that! But…oh, I do wish he was a baby sleeping in a crib again…if only for a day or two! ha.

  3. May 26, 2010 4:54 pm

    >I have two birthdays this week. 18 and 16. (teary)It's hard, but also SO GOOD. The goal of parenting is to get our kids raised! It's happening …Loved this post!

  4. May 26, 2010 6:41 pm

    >I think of Finding Nemo, when Marlin says "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him and Dorie responds, "That's a funny thing to promise. If you never let anything happen to him, then nothing's ever going to happen." Or something like that. To truly know joy, you have to know the other side. And though I hope my kids experience of that part is short, it's part of life.

  5. May 26, 2010 6:59 pm

    >This one made me tear up a little. Thanks, Adelle. 🙂

  6. May 26, 2010 7:21 pm

    >Dayle, Betsy, Sandy – it's seeing and hearing of grown boys like yours that gives me so much hope! Sandy, every time I look at your photos, I imagine me with my two when they graduate and…there are no words.Cheryl – such a perfect quote! That is exactly right.

  7. May 28, 2010 2:40 pm

    >You should read the children's books by Karen Kingbury. Stay Safe Little Boy & Let Me Hold You Longer. They will touch your heart and make you shed a tear… my favorite kids books ever!I got Stay Safe Little Boy to give to my son on his first birthday this weekend. I find it ironic you & I were on the same mental wave this week.

  8. May 28, 2010 6:02 pm

    >Megan – One of our favorites (which I cannot read without bawling and my son thinks that is weird) is Love You Forever. I'll have to check out the Kingsbury books, too!

  9. July 14, 2010 1:31 pm

    >they really don't tell you that in the parenting books. it's so tough! thank you for sharing this!and saying hi from the red dress club! 🙂

  10. July 15, 2010 1:02 am

    >I am visiting from The Red Dress Club…This is true and beautifully said. My oldest is 10 and I still want to protect her from everything, but know she needs to experience life. 10 years later, it is still a struggle.I look forward to getting to know you through the writing club.

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