Wanted: A Brave Heart

Not long after I discovered that I was pregnant with my first son, I went out and bought one of those Pregnancy books/journals that provides a 'comprehensive' list of the gazillion items you 'need' to have before your little bundle arrives. But amongst all of the other baby items that start with the letter B, like Boppy, Bassinet, Bumbo, Bottle, etc...I'm pretty sure they forgot to include one very important 'B' item that is absolutely necessary for motherhood, a Brave heart.  Being a mom requires bravery. I sometimes have it, and often times I don't. This fact was flushed out recently during our "New Years Eve Adventure." I call it an adventure because it was neither planned nor predicted and through it, a new reality unfolded for me in a smack-you-in-the-face kind of way.

On the last day of the year, it really hit me that my kids are a gift. Yeah, yeah, I know every parent says that. But what I mean is that they are a gift in the sense that they are not mine, they have been gifted to me, on loan to me for an uncertain amount of time. They are not my possessions in the same way that my favorite shirt is my possession. I knew when and where I would buy my shirt. And now I decide when I'll wear it and with what I'll wear it. And I decide what that shirt will do each day, usually one of 3 options: hang in my closet, adorn my body, or hang out in the wash. Or the occasional fourth option, chill on my floor. And I choose when I will stop wearing the shirt and pass it on to its next home, aka Goodwill, where someone else will make it their own. A shirt can be considered "mine," but my kids, no, they are not mine. I did not choose when they would come into my life (although I of course had something to do with it). Had I had total control over that, the first would have come sooner, and the second, perhaps not so soon. And ultimately, I don't have control over what my kids do on a daily basis despite my deepest desires for said control. Of course I set parameters, model behaviors, and discipline for "bad choices," but if I could really control exactly what my children do, this:

aka our New Years Eve Adventure, would not have happened. And I certainly cannot control when my children will no longer be on this earth. This point, if I stop to dwell on it for any length of time, reduces me to tears and leaves me with a deeper ache than I know what to do with. No, my children are not mine to control. I can love them. I can guide them. I can teach them. I can discipline them. I can try to protect them. I can empower them. But they will make their own choices. They will fall. They will get up. They will be hurt and they will hurt. They will laugh and they will cry. They will try. They will fail. They will succeed. They will love. They will lose. They will celebrate and they will grieve. More than anything I want for them to love and love deeply with their hearts wide open, but this is a strong and courageous act. And that's not something that I can force them to do, only something that I can model for them. But that is of course, easier said than done. When the cruelties of this world aim their assaults in the direction of my kids, more than a brave face is needed, a brave heart is required.