In May FDW is hosting a new series on stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Click here for more on the series and a list of the contributors. This post was written by Grace Green, a writer who crafts stories with such fierce courage and a rawness that leaves me breathless – it’s always cathartic. She’s allowed me to post one of her blogs here.
I was editing a few beach pictures the other day. We’d taken a mini staycation for Labor Day weekend to South Haven, MI. We live about 45 minutes away from one of the most beautiful shorelines in the States: Lake Michigan on the Michigan side. The beauty of this particular giant body of water is that the sand is always soft, the water is always blue and absolutely NO SHARKS or precarious creatures that live in salt water. The biggest fresh water lakes in the world don’t lie. They really are fabulous. I digress.
As I was editing these pictures my heart numbed over a little bit. I’d taken several hundred and I’d whittled it down to just a few to edit when I noticed there was only one mostly acceptable picture of my sons & I. Neither were looking, my husband hadn’t done much to procure a look over at him and definitely not big smiles. The picture was forced, stuffed in the middle of “c’mon Mama, another picture?!” and “we should get going now,” and various huffing and puffing.
I thought, in part, that’s why this particular group of shots made me sad, but it was something else all together.
It was the one of my oldest son & I. I’d been trying to tell Dave how to take the picture, “hold it half way down until it focuses,” & “you can pull the view finder out,” & “it’s okay if it’s a little dark, I can edit it later,” & “are we both looking?” He took about 4 pained images each one fuzzier than the last, each one with it’s own set of significant problems. He looks sad & unengaged.
This out-of-focus catastrophe of a picture (bottom below) felt like the image to express the 1,000 words of grief and anguish I feel over my children. The longings I feel to be near them while holding in tension my need to let them grow up. The rage that burns in my heart when I hear another child has pushed my own yet knowing the wisest move is to teach him to learn to respond appropriately.
But the biggest of all is the fear of losing them. Not just to a car accident or a freak fall though those fears are always present, but the fear of them one day noticing I have abandonment issues.
Will they see how scared I am? Will they wonder why I didn’t do better more often?
As babies, I had no doubt of their love and absolute adoration. I had no doubt of my ability and willingness to cross the 7 seas for any need they had.
But now, here I am with all of these fears and feelings of inadequacy.
Now, here I am wanting to be nearer, yet wanting to be farther.
Here, I am holding my breath at each little jump, each little risk.
Here, I am being ruined by parenting. Here, I am smushed all over the proverbial rocks like a capsized ship.
Here, I am scared-to-death of these two little people who could die or choose their father or decide not to stick around or find me un-respectable or un-worthy of their love.
Here, where the fear is so stifling, so suffocating the only logical option is to jump ship first.
Just like the image, my heart and emotions become so out of focus, so rooted in fear its hard to see reality clearly.
All I know is this: I love my children yet I never meant to be here.
Here, where the weight of my mistakes over the years weigh so heavily & the ramifications on my children are so uncertain.
I’m unsure whether to blame myself or congratulate myself for pulling my shit together.
It’s heartbreaking, this out-of-focus image here.
Here, where my weary heart tells me this picture is a true reflection of my relationship to my boys but where my soul & spirit begs me not to believe it.