Lump In My Throat

I have been blessed.  (Some days – although few and far between –  I feel I may have been cursed.)  God, in his infinite wisdom, has granted me the blessing of being mom to two little girls.  My heart has ached for them since before they ever breathed their first breath.  I fretted about the number of fingers and toes they would have, whether they would be healthy, whether they could possibly love me as much as I love them.  Once you give birth to a baby, they start pulling away a little bit more every day.  Blink your eyes and they’re crawling, blink again and they’re walking.  It’s true what they say – “They grow up so fast!”  On one hand, you want to freeze time – hold them in that perfect place forever.  On the other hand, you can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.  Your love just grows right along with them.  The one constant – the one thing that never changes is you never stop fretting.

My mother-in-law gave me a book the Christmas before I gave birth to my first daughter – Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”.  If you’ve never read it, it’s brilliant – but one particular quote stood out to me on the subject of children. 

Gibran wrote:

 Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

 

I try VERY HARD to remember these words.  I know now that my mother-in-law believed them with all her heart, even though she is no longer here for me to discuss them with – and I miss her desperately.  Her death, at the tender age of just 59, had a profound effect on me.  Beyond the loss of such an amazing force in my life, my husband’s life and the lives of my children – I had to come to terms with my own mortality, with the finite nature of our existence here on Earth and the limited amount of time I have to watch over my children.  I don’t want to miss a thing!

 

And yet…  there is so much I wish to shield them from.  As my oldest enters into the early awkward phase of her youth, my once divine little bow-head now more resembles a virtual stranger to me.  Practically overnight, she changed.  My daughter, who I once knew every inch of – every single fat roll on her chubby baby body – every single tickle spot on her sweet smelling skin — is growing up, up and away.  This past December, she asked me to chop off her long, beautiful locks – she wanted to donate them to Locks of Love, so another child – who had cancer and had lost their hair, would have hair.  Her gorgeous smile was suddenly transformed by the appearance of adult teeth too large for her little face.  And, as of just a few days ago, her lovely hazel eyes are now hidden behind a pair of thick rimmed glasses she proudly chose herself.  She’s in the gifted classes at school and sobs if she doesn’t make honor roll.  She uses big words and tells terrible jokes.  Her head is always in the clouds, if her nose isn’t stuck inside a book.  Who is this kid?

 

She’s my baby.  She’s also the kid I wouldn’t give the time of day to when I was not much older than she is now.  I am dying inside at the thought of another child not being able to see what an amazing creature she is – or, God forbid, hurting her in some way – ANY way.  My sister –once a sweet, cherubic child – bent and nearly broke under the weight of the ugliness spewed from the mouths of other children in her school.  She battled bulimia for years as a result.  I don’t wish to see my baby crushed that way.  It’s a lie, you know – words CAN harm you every bit as badly as sticks and stones.

 

Thankfully, somewhere along the way, my goofy sweet first-born was given a confidence level that I could never attain.  I was shy and silent at eight-years-old, and still struggle as an adult.  She is completely secure in her own skin, and man does that kid love to TALK!  I hope that never changes.  There’s a part of me that wants to warn her, that wants to tell her about all the bad things that COULD happen.  That’s where the lump in my throat comes in.  I never really understood where that term “lump in your throat” came from.  Now I know – it’s all the words you want to say, but know you shouldn’t – trapped like a knot just below your mouth and slightly above your adam’s apple.  They are words dying to come out, but wise enough to stay inside.   These words often dissolve into silent prayer – a simple wish for their happiness.  That’s how I try to send my “living arrows” forth – with a quick hug and a kiss, an “I love you” and a silent prayer.  As I drop my little girls off to school every morning, I kiss them goodbye and watch them as they are swallowed up inside the double doors of their institution of learning.  Every morning, I drive away with that damn lump in my throat.  I’m afraid it’s here to stay.

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Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 5:33 am  Comments (3)  
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Spring Fever Has Got Me Sprung

What is it about the sweet sound of a bird chirping outside my window that gives me an unexpected lift?  Why do I feel the sudden urge to take off my shoes and run through the grass at the first sign of green poking up through the yellowed Bermuda?  For what possible reason do I feel the need – year after year – to completely gut and redesign the interior of my home from the moment I take down all the Christmas decorations?  What could explain the sudden onset of the seemingly incontestable desire to take perfectly good shoulder-length hair and chop it off?  Two words – Spring Fever.

Spring Fever is a restlessness that starts somewhere in your brain and travels to the tips of your toes. It happens every year – as surely as the change of seasons.  I long to don flip flops, Capri pants and a tank top, and take my girls to the park for the afternoon.  I want to paint the walls of my bedroom a refreshing shade of blue and buy all new furniture.  I can hardly wait to stick my feet in the sand and hear water lapping at the shoreline of a beach somewhere – anywhere.   I yearn to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, while a light breeze plays in my hair.  But that’s the problem – the first casualty to my Spring-fevered frenzy is my hair. 

I’ve already destroyed a perfectly acceptable bob – with every good intention of achieving a hip and edgy look – resulting instead in something that more resembles a she-mullet.  I’m a little nervous to venture ahead – what I envision in my mind may go horribly wrong in reality.  I’ve already purchased the sky blue paint for my bedroom walls, but after the disastrous results of my first Spring endeavor, I’m a tad nervous to commit to so much BLUE.  As for the beach and any hope of acquiring new furniture – in light of the current state of our economy – the new focus is to stash away as much cash as possible.  So, no new furniture and no feet in the sand – at least not this year.  To top it all off, the winter has been unkind – and I find myself in the worst shape of my life.  My dad’s mom died when I was very young, but I still remember viewing her through the car window, dressed in a sleeveless house dress waving bye-bye – arm flesh violently flapping as she did.  I recently inherited my own set of arm flaps – which fairly well does in my great love affair with the tank top.  For some strange reason, I feel like this year is oddly different.  Spring isn’t even here, and yet I’m completely sprung. 

Perhaps that’s the mark of a turning point – the moment when you realize it’s time to trade in the old ways and start anew – much like the transition from Winter to Spring.

I need to come at it from a different angle – through a new pair of shades, perhaps.  Hair grows quickly – but so do children.  My little girls are growing up so fast – right before my eyes.  Since I haven’t invented that freeze ray, yet and no amount of wishing will slow their growth – I need to soak up as much time with them as possible (especially while they still believe in fairy tales and think I’m the best mom ever).  I envision countless trips to the playground and pool – freckles popping on the cheeks of their sun-kissed faces, Popsicle juice running in streams down their arms.  This is their Spring, too – and I need to find new (and cost-effective) ways of making it special.  Picnics in the grass, kites carried on the breeze, weaving tales while rocking on our front porch – simple things that equate to memories as warm as the springtime sun.  These simple things are far more important than the recollection of Mommy crying over another bad hair style choice or home décor mishap.

And as another dreaded birthday approaches, I need to stop attributing the new muffin top and widening thighs to age, and start taking responsibility for what I put in my mouth and the amount of exercise I get every day.  Instead of riding that wave of Spring Fever-fueled energy to paint all the walls of my house and rearrange the furniture (again), I need to take my dog for a jog on the trails down by the Chattahoochee and teach the girls to play tennis.  I need to grab a hold of my Spring Fever and twist it slightly for more positive long-lasting results.  Rather than focusing on hairstyles and home décor, I need to focus on family and fitness.  With more than a month and a half to go – and with a large collection of tank tops waiting to be worn – there’s still plenty of time to turn my Spring Fever into Spring Fit.  With so many adventures to be had – right in our own backyard – there’s still plenty of time to turn my Spring Fever into Spring Fun.  Meanwhile, I need to enjoy these last precious days of winter – and never stop believing in the miracle of snow in the Deep South.  My faithful flip-flops will wait patiently on the floor of my closet until Spring has truly sprung.

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”             – Mark Twain

Published in: on February 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment