I realized a few weeks ago while sitting at the kitchen table, watching our Bear text her father – that she has her mom’s hands. They are shaped exactly the same. I’m sure I have noticed it before but for some reason last night it struck me. She also has her mom’s laugh. One that comes from the belly, way down deep that I’ve noticed more lately as well.
Isn’t it funny how we work to assign traits to a family member? Sometimes the resemblance, whether physical or in mannerisms, is so striking that it can stop you dead in your tracks. At least for me it’s that way. There are times when Dozer looks at me in a certain way and his eyes look just like my ex-husband’s and that most certainly stops me dead in my tracks. Mercy. It can be unsettling.
We have spent the summer, and a lot of the past year, offering different activities to the kids so that they have a positive outlet for some energy and can claim something as their own. The Bear has done gymnastics, dance, karate, horse riding, soccer, cheerleading, and tumbling. Because Dozer is younger, he’s been limited in his pursuits, but he has tried karate and horse riding as well. We have explored these activities one at a time. It is challenging enough to be raising two grands who are in elementary school, so we really have tried to limit their activities. We honor our commitment until each term is up and then if the kids want to continue we do and if not, we move on. Although it is good for them to be kids and have down time, I think it’s vitally important that they each are involved in at least one positive activity where they can learn team work, build self confidence and self esteem and let off a little steam and energy in the process.
The one activity each has stayed with is their horse riding. They attend a therapeutic horse riding academy and it is a true God-send. The kids are not only learning how to care for and manage horses, they are learning what hard work is and having fun while building their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Lately, however, the Bear has fallen in love with cheerleading. Her mom was also a cheerleader for a few years. Paige knew she’d look cute in the cheerleading uniform but had no idea how physically demanding it could be LOL. Our Bear has taken to it with a passion only those who truly know and love her can understand. When she came out of her bedroom in her full cheerleading outfit, with her hair up, it took my breath away. She looked just like her mom. Memories came flooding back. Those were good years. I told the Bear that she looked 10 years old! She smiled, sighed and said, “I know. I always wanted to be 10”. When we got to the high school football field and she took the field with her squad and did her performance, she could not contain the joy on her face! As tiny as she is she got to be a flyer and she owned it. It was one of those bittersweet moments for me as a mom and a grandmother. I was witnessing this child discover her love for something, while remembering her mom’s love for the same sport, and yet realizing that her mom will never get to experience these moments.
I had the same thought a week or so ago. I had printed several photos – cheerleading, first day of school, tooth pulled to send to my daughter. As I was looking through them I realized again that all of the milestones her children will experience up until their teen years, she will only witness through photographs and the occasional video visit. That saddens me beyond words. Sometimes the grief that I feel for the loss that all have suffered and continue to suffer because of drug addictions washes over me and honestly, some days it’s difficult to process and remember to breathe.
Make no mistake, I know that my daughter is paying the penalty for the choices she made. I know all three of her children have paid a price for those decisions. I know all three of her children, however, are learning to live happily and thrive in homes that weren’t originally created to be theirs, but by the grace of God are theirs. After the grief washes through me, at times, I can feel the anger simmering. I still have moments when I want to rage from the rooftops at the wrong-doers and ask them WHY?!!! But that won’t help at all. No one has answers for drug addiction or evil … as to why they engage in those to begin with. No one says that they want to be a drug addict when they grow up. Evil … well, that’s a different blog post entirely but I am completely aware that evil exists in this world, for there is often no other explanation for some horrors that occur.
Yet, as the parent of this troubled grown young woman, I never ever want to bring her harm. I still want to protect her and her feelings. But I can’t. I can have bad days and be overwhelmed and still call on my small, yet fierce army of supporters. Who does she have in that prison? I keep praying that while she is literally a captive audience, that God will be allowed to move in her heart. My fear is she has learned to harden her heart and immediately assumes the worst in my motives. Truthfully, I’m sure she’s felt the same way about me.
Relationships between mothers and daughters can be complicated. I had a conversation today with my child I never wanted to have. I opened wounds that will likely take years to heal, and I did it in defense of these children that we have been given the responsibility for. Yet in doing so, my child feels as if I’ve turned on her and want her removed from our life story. I hope one day when my daughter reads these posts she will understand. She will come to see that this mom tried her very best, made lots of mistakes, loved fiercely and always, always wanted the best in the world for her. God tells us not all lived to see the fruition of their prayers and hopes and dreams … maybe I will be able to see my children come home, but maybe I will not. Either way, I’m going to continue moving forward one step at a time, and I am going to lean on those around me when I don’t feel I can take the next step.
And I will always, no matter what, as long as I draw a breath, love my children more fiercely with every passing day. But in this moment, I’m going to wipe my tears, go wash my face, and snuggle with the Bear while we have movie night and watch The Greatest Showman … because she has wanted to see that movie her whole life! And I will pray fervently for her mom, even when I can’t form the words.
God is good always. He loves my kids more than I do.