A Little Left (of center)

To the other mother sitting across from me, hugging your purse to your body, as you sit scared and cold and alone.

You’re not having a good day. Your hair is neatly tucked behind your ears, and your clothes look a little too big. Have you lost your appetite? Are you sick inside and terrified?

Did you look around, and ask yourself, “How did we get here?” Do you see parents you wouldn’t allow within 10 feet of your kid, sitting around you, brashly complaining and smelling of smoke? This feels like a good mothers’ cruel joke.

I know you’re thinking of all the ways you have been derelict in your motherly duty. That we teach women today mom’s must be ALL things, ALL the time. Don’t skip dress rehearsals, join the PTA, keep your home spotless, and drive all the kids to soccer and ballet. A meal should be warmly waiting, and the job you have must allow you to attend the monthly mommy & muffins, and camp outs, dance parties, play time, homework, and endless perfect patience, and unconditional love.

You’re only Human Warrior Mamma.

I remember my first parent visiting hour in a place like this one, and I sat tightly across from women and I remember thinking, as only a mother can, ” where Angels Fear to Tread” . If an Angel had been beside me, I would have heard a chorus of other Angel Mothers, saying to me, singing a prayer like a choir.

It’s going to be okay. It’s all going to be okay.

Your child, like mine, is in a safe place. Maybe you don’t realize how lucky you are, today you can breathe a little easier than yesterday. Admit to yourself, Warrior Mamma, you don’t remember the last time you knew your child was safe from themselves. For me it was 2003, she was 4 and I still held her hand before she exited any door.

Stop with the harmful shame. Mom, we are in this together for the next few minutes, stop looking for the thing to blame. Accept that this will pass. Yes, its going to be bumpy, this mom stuff may even kick your ass.

Say it with me slowly, your child is unwell. Your child can be well again. She is still your baby. She is hurting, perhaps, pretty badly. She needs to see you be authentic, but this is a visit. This is not the time or place to parent. Just be with your child, hold their hands and smile. Remind your child what it felt like to hold you. This isn’t the place for therapy, this is a place for play. Kiss your baby, make it last, it may be all they have to hold on to for a few more weeks, months, or just til the next day.

If you dared to make eye contact my eyes would plead to you warmly, it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do enough of. What matters now is, you can both move forward.

I think you can tell I’ve been here before, watched my beautiful, fragile daughter from beyond the window, on her “unit” behind a locked door.

I haven’t slept much lately, and I cant concentrate on conversations, and when people ask me how she is, I stare blankly sometimes, too. I wish I could tell them I knew.

But, mom, how are you? How is the book you aren’t reading? The quilt you’ve stopped sewing, the husband you can’t kiss? How much have you lost while letting your heart drop into ¬†your child’s abyss?

It’s okay Warrior Momma, put one foot in front of the other, you can do this.