Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Goal of Being Unseen

Being a stay-at-home mom is unglamorous by just about any standard.  Being a homeschooling stay-at-home mom is often perceived as just plain nuts.  There are no lunches at fine restaurants as a mid-day respite, no paycheck to deposit in the bank, and no gold watch presented at the and of your "career".  There are days you wonder if anyone in the world really "sees" you at all, and you often feel as if your own worth has diminished because you have no real "claim to fame" to point toward.  You lack regular adult contact and conversation, and the walls can close in quite quickly if you don't push back against them with great vigor.

So why do it?  Why stay home and teach, do laundry, and juggle the bills in the hope that you can stretch that paycheck a bit further?  Why not go to work, send the kids to school like a NORMAL person would, and stride firmly back into the adult word where, presumably, the conversational level would rise a bit above discussing which latest celebrity is a "hunk" and when the latest Marvel movie will arrive in town?

Because you'd miss the moments, the ones that make your heart squeeze in your chest and your eyes well with tears.  You'd miss the day to day quantity of time that eventually leads to the quality of relationship you desire.  And, in our case, we would have all missed being present for the emotional work that has led to gradual healing that was far more important and necessary than a bigger paycheck so the kids could have the latest and greatest next big "thing".

This week, the kids were given a writing assignment to share about one of the earliest strong childhood memories they had.  Each was a surprise and we enjoyed hearing about orphanage life and caretakers who were special, first days home, and more.  Finally, I got to Josh's, and began to read it aloud as I had the others.  Here is what he wrote:

I was probably around age four of five when this event happened.  This is one of the only memories I have that I can only remember in a first person point of view unlike my later memories.  It was the beginning of summer, I was following my Mom around the house as she cleaned and we goofed around, but then she had to go outside and told me to stay inside.  I immediately started freaking out, even though I subconsciously knew she would come back, when I couldn't see her outside the window.  The adrenaline rose in my body and I searched frantically with my eyes through the window.  At that point I walked outside and yelled out, "Mom".  No response.  Running to the edge of the concrete porch, Mom appeared around the corner with a frightened look on her face in response to my scared demeanor.  She walked to me and hugged me as tight as she could and told me, "I am never going to leave you, understand that.  I love you, Josh."  The pain slipped away and that feeling of security came flowing back.  I was safe even though there was nothing to be afraid of.  This is my earliest memory I can recall vividly.  I know my Mom would have never left me then, and she would never leave me know.

As I got to the end, I simply couldn't finish.  I choked up, leaned over and hugged Josh with all my might.  This tall, strong fourteen year old young man before me whose abandonment in infancy on that cold winter night has left an eternal imprint on his soul sees me.  He needed me to leave my ego at the door many years ago, and be as present as possible so that at fourteen he could write this with complete confidence in the fact that his forever mom would never, ever leave him.

You know what I realized from this revealing piece written by Josh?  My ultimate job, my most "realest" job as our kids' mom has been to help them heal, but also to get them to the point where I am, indeed, invisible.

What do I mean by that?  It may be hard for a parent of biological children to understand, but the hyper vigilance that comes from losing ones original parents, and the associated emotional trauma requires years and years of work to help mend, and necessitates a parent is always, always aware and within reach.  You are needed in an entirely different way to reassure, to remind of your commitment, and to restore a sense of safety.  You need to be touchstone, always present.

You need to die to self in many ways, so that your child can have new life through your care.

The goal is to have a child who is secure enough that they do NOT desperately need to see you, or to know you are present!  Counter-intuitive, right?  But so very true.

Josh has spent years going through moments of intense anxiety as he moved through Reactive Attachment Disorder, to Disordered and Insecure Attachment, to Secure Attachment.  Many's the time he has anxiously wandered through the house fearful that we have disappeared, that our dog has wandered away, that he is alone.  It was only a few months ago that he revealed to us with great honesty and courage that almost every morning he awakens and for those first brief few moments he is terrified and his heart races because he is afraid his family won't be here.

My "paycheck" comes in non-monetary form, and it requires an entirely different skill set than was necessary for jobs I performed in my "pre-mom" days.  My worth? Well, that is not for me to judge anyway.  But I wouldn't trade the ego feeding I might get from a career for the ability to be Unseen in this particular and unusual way one day by my kids.  For only then will I know it was a job well done.

1 comment:

Dianne Miller said...

Beautiful Cindy, as usual. Your "paycheck" is the best kind to get. Don't ever forget it! Josh too, is inheriting your writing skills. You all amaze me. Love you all dear friends!.....Dianne