“I feel your pain more than you know, sweetie. Probably more than you do.” I said in a soft but sturdy tone, trying not to fall apart in front of her.
My daughter was in tears sitting next to me on the couch, crumbling under the weight of an awful situation that had split her heart open into shattered painful pieces.
“I know mom.” She whispered through her tears.
But she won’t truly know until she has children of her own. She couldn’t possibly understand the depths of emotions that comes from the millions of moments filling days upon days spent raising a child. She doesn’t see the expanse of the years spent watching the baby you held in your arms begin to walk and talk and grow into this person they have become.
From the moment we become a mom, we begin building new grooves in our hearts that deepen and lengthen and widen with time as they carry every delicate detail of the life we have lived with our kids. Their rugged ridges are paved with the intimate story of parenting through the years, creating an intricate map full of every road traveled through the landscape of their lives. The journey has been long, arduous, worrisome and wonderful.
I feel my daughter’s pain more deeply than she does
I was sure that although my daughter was deep in the throes of anguish, the intensity of my own feelings went far beyond hers. They come from the history we have created together, much of which she doesn’t remember. They come from all the years I’ve spent tending to and caring for this heart of hers that is now broken.
And as I sat in this pit of pain with her, completely immersed in this agonizing moment and the suffering of my child, my stomach turned and my body trembled. My eyes welled up in tears and my chest tightened so hard I could barely breathe. Then the rage flooded in with a fury that comes with the pain of seeing your child hurt by someone.
I stood up and began pacing the house with slamming steps as my hands turned into fists and every muscle in my body tightened. I began thinking of all the things I simply must do to fight for her, defend her, protect her from this terrible injustice. I wanted to let out a guttural scream that with its strength would shake the very foundation of the earth, forcing everything to fall into place in order to heal my child. I wanted to save her from this suffering. I felt this frantic urgency to pull her from this pain.
There’s a profound protective passion that swells in a mother’s heart when her child is wounded. Its strength lifts cars and runs into burning buildings. Its fortitude thrives in staying bedside in hospital rooms for weeks on end. It has a will of its own that travels 1200 miles to be there when the call comes. Its deep ache is felt during sleepless nights filled with desperate prayers and tearful pleas when we are helpless to do more.
There is nothing we wouldn’t do for our kids when they are hurting. There’s no greater pain we feel.
The power of my love for my daughter guts me
The power of this kind of love guts me every time. It can consume every fiber of my being. It has its own supernatural strength and breathes a fierce life of its own. All I can do is try to manage the burning sparks as best I can. Once that fire is lit, its flames burn ferociously and the wildfire of rage or sadness or anguish can spiral out of control. In order to protect my kids from feeling the scorching heat, I try as best I can to hide it. I know it’s too much for them to witness and too foreign for them to understand.
Even though I would do anything to take this agony away from my girl, my mind knows this can’t be done. My hard-earned life experience understands that pain and sadness, disappointment and anger, are all layers of life that must be experienced. We come into this world naked, innocent, and vulnerable. And every new experience we go through adds more emotional fabric to our frame, some silky and smooth, some harsh and heavy. These are her clothes. I know this to be true and I understand the significance of it all, but in the heat of this love, the fit of this furry, I long to rip them off of her and put them on myself.
When our kids are hurting, we’d do anything to take their pain away…
I hated that my precious child was drowning in the dark sea of it all and I couldn’t dive in to save her. There is nothing more difficult than watching our children flail and fight to survive in the tormenting water, engulfing them and pulling them under. You know you can’t control the sea’s unpredictable surfs, but you pray to stop the storm. You throw bits of rafters for them to hold onto to stay afloat, hoping that they are enough to help our kids endure this on their own.
Our kids’ struggles strengthen them, but we hate to seem them suffer
You try to trust the truth that their struggles will slowly strengthen their swimming skills and train them for the next storm that will eventually come. You cling to the hope that when this one subsides; they will make it back to safe and solid ground, weary and worn, battered and bruised, but filled with the wisdom and strength that only experience brings.
And as the storm subsides and the feelings fade, we stand guard on the shore, a little bit wiser and stronger too. But always waiting and worrying and wondering when the next waves will roll in and take our babies out to sea again.
We’ll spend our lives with these simmering sparks that go up in flames when our kids are in pain. There’s no stopping this fierce kind of fire. It’s born with our child and grows in the grooves. It will always be with us; this relentless, sometimes reckless, often irrational, protective, always passionate love for our child.
You’ll Also Love Reading:
Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults – best-selling guide for parents of teens!
Christine Carter writes at TheMomCafe.com, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration, and faith. You can also find her work on Your Teen for Parents, Moms of Tweens and Teens, Parenting Teens and Tweens, Scary Mommy, Motherly, For Every Mom, Grown and Flown, and Her View from Home. She is the author of “Help and Hope While You’re Healing: A woman’s guide toward wellness while recovering from injury, surgery, or illness.” And “Follow Jesus: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Navigating the Online World.” Both sold on Amazon.