promise

This post was meant to go up a week and a half ago and then the flu found us. I’m sorry I haven’t been around, my friends. I’ve missed reading your words. Now that I’ve returned to the land of the living, I’ll visit your places. Here is my belated post…

“I have to back off.” I reached this conclusion after having a long conversation with Scott about our daughter. Annie and I have been busy reacting.

As parents we comfort each other with, “Do what you think is best. You know what’s best for your kids.” Sometimes I don’t know what’s best.

I listen to other mothers and I mentally scribble, sway, scream as I race to keep up. When did parenting get complicated? Was it always this hard? I’m pretty sure I’m giving this too much thought. Maybe I’m pushing too hard. Clearly, I need a vacation and a martini. I long to soften life’s bumps and blows for my kids and, at the same time, I want to teach them to cope. My instinct is to hang on when I should take down the fences. Let them be. After 9 years of knowing my daughter I’m still unsure, I still second-guess. Who is she?

A week ago, perspective found me as I told my story. I heard my breath, the beat of my heart. For one hour my worries lay at the back of the room behind a small group of kind people as I answered questions. I saw my mangled car, the hospital. I saw me. I saw Scott. My family. My friends. Someone asked, “When you were in the hospital, what did you want from people? What did you need? What worked for you and what didn’t?”

I explained what drove me crazy. Self-help books with a heavy religious hand. People with plans to fix. I was broken and I had to be broken for a while. And what helped. People who were there with love and no agenda.

Later that night, on my way home, belief was on my mind. When I was jerked from a coma and confronted with a question, “Heidi, do you want to live?” and I answered, “Yes,” I knew I could get through. When my conviction wavered, the belief of my family and friends carried me. I rested in their hope.  Trust heals and strengthens. Belief is often what holds Scott and me together. We’ll get lost and then find our way, each other’s anchors.

I parked the car and hurried inside to tell Scott about my great evening. Annie stood just inside the door waiting, “I wanted to say goodnight.” I squeezed her hard; buried my face in her hair.

“Mommy, that’s too tight.”

I sighed, “I know. It’s because I love you so much.” I released her with a kiss, “Have a good sleep.”

I watched her shuffle to the stairs, tripping over pajama pants that puddle at her feet. And I ached. I didn’t know I could hurt this much, feel this guilty, get this angry and love this much.

I don’t always know what’s best and I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I’m her promise. To love and believe.

26 thoughts on “promise

  1. julie gardner

    Yes. You love and you believe.
    That’s all you can do.
    (Well, the occasional vacation and/or martini doesn’t hurt, either.)

    Still, I know exactly what you’re talking about here. The holding on too tightly. The thinking too much. How can we do anything less than that when we care THIS DEEPLY?

    And yet.

    Sometimes the best thing we can do is let go. For them. For us.
    Love. Believe.
    Yes.

    Reply
    1. heidi Post author

      Julie!! I’ve missed you. Thank you for this. For your words and your heart. For understanding ‘this deeply’, the source of all the angst.
      So happy to see you. xo

      Reply
  2. Margaret

    Although I don’t have children so I can’t relate to the subject specifically, your words create such a story that I can feel both your frustration and your desire to be the best parent. Your intentions are obviously in the best interest of your daughter, so I think things will be just fine. Have a great day 🙂 Don’t be too hard on yourself! Margaret

    Reply
  3. Kerstin

    My friend! I have been to your blog so often in the last few weeks and finally you’re back 😉
    And of course you wrote exactly what I needed to hear.
    About loving, feeling guilty, being angry and loving even more.
    My son wrote a letter to Santa yesterday that pretty much broke my heart. He writes one every year and every year he gets back the standard letter from Canada Post and he’s happy with that. Before he handed it to me to send it off he said that he wrote in there that he did not want anything this year, except for us to get along better as a family.
    After he went to bed I opened the letter and read it. He wrote that he thinks he’s the problem and that he feels he does not deserve what he already has – which is so much – left alone anything new…
    He went on to say that he just wants to be together as a family and be happy and that’s all he wanted…
    Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves and on our children. Like you said, the constant wanting to protect and keep in line and at the same time wanting to teach them to cope.
    I went to the post office this morning and sweet-talked the lady there into giving me a Santa Clause envelope and letter they use, so I can add a personal touch to it and mail it to him.

    Good to have you back, Heidi – I missed you!

    Reply
    1. heidi

      I read this and responded to it in my head long ago already. 🙂
      Your son just melts my heart. Because he has such a GOOD heart.
      Oh, the pressure! I’m always looking for that balance and trying, trying to stay in the middle. You know?
      I like you, Kerstin. So much.

      Reply
  4. Galit Breen

    Wow.

    I’m right there with with you – holding on too tight, hoping I’m one of the ones saying/doing/being the right things, and again wit the holding on.

    You’re stunning, and you’re back.

    I’ve missed you.

    xo

    Reply
    1. heidi

      Hi, you. I know I’m so late to respond. But, I’m here. And I’m with you. In the holding on and letting go all at once. I really didn’t know parenting would be this tough and this awesome…all at once. I think it’s the best thing and the hardest thing I’ll ever do.
      Much, much love to you, friend.

      Reply
  5. Katie

    thank-you Heidi for blessing our community with your story, your presence. A truly memorable evening.
    Sorry to hear you had the flu but glad that you’re back and feeling better. I can so completely relate to your intense emotions with parenting your daughter, and just reading this post helps me to take a deep breath and relax a little.

    Reply
    1. heidi

      Katie! I think every time I see your name here I end your name with an exclamation point. You just bring that out in me. I think it’s called happiness. 🙂
      I loved being with you and your community. You were all so kind and good to me. Thank you!!!

      Reply
  6. Alexandra

    I love this metaphor. Great visual.

    I just had this conversation with my niece. She confessed to me about feeling like she does it all wrong, too much, too tough; too high with expectations. She wanted to cry.

    I told her about a time, ten years ago, with my 17 yr old, the very same feelings on my end.

    She thought she was the only one.

    It’s not for wimps and i think it’s only hard if you’re doing it right.

    we may not love the labor but oh how we love the fruit.

    Reply
  7. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    So sorry you all have been down with the flu. That will make parenting exponentially harder.

    Alexandra said exactly what I was going to say, “It’s not for wimps and I think it’s only hard if you’re doing it right.” And you have already demonstrated what will prevent you from grasping too tight: self-realization. You are too reflective to do the “wrong” thing for too long. Of course “wrong” changes from minute to minute. 🙂 Ellen

    Reply
    1. heidi

      Yes, absolutely. Self-realization. I keep thinking if I’m aware, then it can only help me. I hope. 😉
      I so appreciate your comment and you and your loveliness. Thank you!

      Reply
  8. stephanie

    I have to tell you I shed a few tears reading this. Even though I don’t have any children I have a niece with whom I’m extremely close. She loves me as much as I love her. Well, maybe I love her more. I want to hold her tight and never let go. I want to clear a path for her so she never stumbles. But that’s not realistic nor appropriate. I watch my sister struggle with exactly what you describe: the guilt, the questions, the complications. We, as parents and extended family, are their promise. I love that. I know I would never give up on my niece no matter what might assail her in the future. It’s the love that makes it so painful sometimes to step back, and let them find their own way.

    Reply
    1. heidi

      This…your words…your heart here…are just gorgeous. It’s something I will come back to. You never fail to move me.
      I hope the holidays have been good to you, my friend. Much love and peace to you.

      Reply
  9. Emily

    Sometimes I think about myself as a parent and I know I’m messing it all up. I can imagine a future where my girls reflect back and wonder how I could’ve made such obvious mistakes, but then I think — all I am is full of love. All I have are good intentions. We do our best. In real time. And that matters, I think.

    Reply
    1. heidi

      “all I am is full of love”..YES. Just yes. You’re right – we can’t go wrong if there is love and good intentions and our best. Thank you, Emily.

      Reply
  10. John

    Heidi, when you said yes to life you were saying yes to all of this and more. Thanks for putting life into perspective again as you so eloquently always do. Whether we are feeling life’s greatest joys or it’s deepest sorrows or experiencing the uncertainty of whether we are doing it right or not it’s all about being alive and living and that is amazingly wonderful.

    Reply

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