Tough, love.


Toward the end of last October, I thought to myself, This is the hardest month I have ever had. In November it became the hardest two months, December three. Where are we now? Month seven?

I was making sandwiches this morning for the kids’ lunches — pb&j because I read someplace that’s what nutritionists put in their kids’ lunchboxes (haha, sure they do) — and I thought about that some more. Has this really been the hardest time I’ve been through, ever? Is parenting a child who is struggling emotionally (to put it mildly) and having far too many difficult and scary moments and days worse than being the mother of a tiny four pound baby, born too soon? Is it shittier to not be able to help my child right now than it was to not be able to help my father when he was so frail and dying and in constant pain? It’s just busywork to distract myself, this comparing and ranking. I know it doesn’t matter. I am here right now.

I am so tired. Dramatic but true: It feels like my skin is made of glass and I’m hollow. My eyes hurt. Sometimes I walk through the grocery store and my legs are so heavy I feel like I can’t possibly take another step, that I should just puddle onto the floor and sleep until everything is better again. But I don’t, because I’m stubborn and sort of practical. And because Scuba calls me on his way home and says, Don’t worry about dinner. I’ll get it. You relax some, okay? He texts me, I’ll pick up the carpool on my way home tonight. He is holding my hand when I wake up in the morning, and he booked a beach house for a week for us this summer.

I don’t think things happen for a reason. I don’t think the universe puts challenges in my path over and over until I am freed of them by learning their lessons. But I do know the feeling of having my heart crack open and break. Horrible, yes, but at the same time, what comes rushing in to fix it is so tender and surprising. I’m completely worn out and wrung out right now. Sometimes all that’s left of me is the part that loves, and it takes my breath away, the strength of that piece and how it’s inverse to how awful I feel.

Last night for an excruciating hour I stood hovering in my child’s bedroom doorway, unwanted. At one point I thought about my heart, how it’s pumping blood, still, even though I am sure it’s broken. You know that thing you learn in science class about how if all your veins and arteries and capillaries were stretched out end to end, they’d wrap around the earth four times? I thought about that, and about how someone sitting in the same room can actually be farther than 60,000 miles away from you sometimes. Even if they live in your heart.

2 thoughts on “Tough, love.

  1. marian

    I haven’t commented in ages, Jen, but this one tugged at my heart for so many reasons. Just wanted you to know that I’m out here, reading, listening, and knowing that things will get better, eventually.


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