Mother fear…

20 Jul

As I lay in bed in my typical early morning sleepless state, a thought came across my mind.  In all likelihood, I will not be hit for the remainder of my life.  Perhaps this is silliness, and most adult women live with this confidence – especially folks, like me, who have not ever faced abuse at the hand of their husband or their parents.  For me, this morning though was profound, and something that should have been obvious for a while. 

Violence and abuse, in my mind, was a norm and something that a person could and probably should anticipate.  While I had never taken a poll, every person – friend, family, church ladies, neighbors – I had the chance to know well enough had eventually disclosed that they had been abused in some manner or another.  Some abuse had been at the hand of family, and others had been abused by people in the periphery – neighbors, teachers, extended family, babysitters, boyfriends.  The point was, everyone – absolutely everyone, had been a victim.  While it was a given, in my mind, that a female should anticipate being victimized by at least one person, as I grew older I came to realize that many, many males had faced the same situations.  This is a crummy reality to parent in.

From the day my children were born, I have worked vigorously to protect them from harm.  I expect most of us do.  As a new mother, I would hesitate to pass my bitty baby into the hands of those i did not know well, and often even hesitated to share him with those I was close to.  He was, and is, the world to me.  As each child got older and eventually reached a point where they began to step outside of my radius of protection, my anxiety increased.  It was important to me not to be an obsessive and smothering mother, but I viewed the world as dangerous and many of the people as dangerous.  I looked suspiciously at kindly elderly neighbors, overly loving Sunday school teachers, eager extended family, men with dogs, friendly strangers – most everyone was a potential offender.

Each time a child’s behavior or mood seems to swing or there’s behavior that doesn’t make sense to me, my mind immediately look for clues of abuse.  I consider each of the places they have been and what opportunities there have been for someone to hurt them.  Everything from wet beds, poor grades or general sullen moods would cause me to consider the possibility that someone had harmed my person, my gift from God.

There have been days where I would cry at the abuse I knew would eventually come to my beautiful babies.  I knew that their psyche would forever be damaged and their child joy would not return – eventually.  This was a fate that I accepted almost as a certainty for my girls.  If they survived childhood, they would in all likelihood be abused in some manner as a young adult.  I think this hurts most when I consider the joy that would be stolen – a joy that cannot be healed back.

This general state of helplessness remained solid up until about a year ago when one friend told me that she had never been hit, raped, molested, assaulted, cut or punched.  What was a casual conversation while waiting for children, was a life changing, reality altering moment for me.  For the first time it occurred to me that there is such thing as body never being touched by hurting hands.

Today I still get teary at the possibility that someone would take a part of my child away forever, but now I anchor myself to the reality, that it doesn’t have to be that way.

And this mornings epiphany?  What a blessing to know, no matter what road we have traveled on, we don’t forever have to be tied to the things or days of the past.  That there is always hope.  That there is such thing as real love that doesn’t hurt.  This not only makes my own day (and future) sun-shinier, but assures me that there is kindness and gentleness waiting for my kids too.

While we do swing through the air – completely vulnerable – with our hands firmly grasping our little ones (even if they may be physically quite large) – each moment we know we are soon to release their little hands in the hopes that the hands that will reach back for them are firm, steady and ready to receive them.  I think this has been the hardest part of being a mom (and probably a dad) is knowing eventually you have to let go.

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