Back story: I originally wrote this in early 2010 after an incident with my daughter. Like a number of blogs I start and don’t finish, it was buried in a file that I just re-discovered and I decided to finish and publish it mostly because I have had many more of these moments since this one and many others before it. Life can be fleeting and it seems more so lately. So, I want to give my mother her roses now. Purple ones of course!
First I have to thank you. There are a number of things to thank you for obviously, but this is specifically for yesterday (and several others days like it) when I have called you in a panic about the baby Giant (BG) or “kaiahead” like you call her.
As you know, I am not prone to hysteria. You raised me to be rational in most situations and to take a moment to think things through before I fly off the handle (mostly). As such, when I had not heard from my child – your granddaughter in two and a half hours, I didn’t panic – i pondered. I started thinking about all of the reasons the BG could be late, like sitting in the library (where she was supposed to be) having a conversation with the librarian about the fine line between young adult and adolescent literature or maybe there was, you know, a puppet show. You never know with this kid. I thought about these things as I called the local library branch where she was supposed to go after school today and was told that she hadn’t been there – at all. That shook me up a little because I knew she should have made it to the library and been on her way home by that time, but I didn’t worry – too much. An hour later when she still wasn’t home, I decided to take a walk up to the library and see for myself; because, like you always were with me, I am proactive in my approach to raising my child. I thought, like you taught me, about what the reasonable explanation could be for not hearing from her for now three and a half hours. I still didn’t completely panic – but I prayed. Maybe they had made a mistake at the library and she was holed up in a corner reading as she always is at home. Maybe she was on a bus that was re-routed and it was taking considerably longer to get home. Maybe this was another of her hair-brained schemes to have a little “free time” and she was out gallivanting at the mall. I prayed: “Lord, whatever she’s doing – wherever she’s at, please bring her home safely.”
Mommy, I have to say as I walked up the hill to the library with my prayers in tow, my heart began to sink lower and lower. I foolishly allowed thoughts of the “worst case scenario” to creep in and I started to become unnerved. I took a brief moment to sit and collect myself and then I called you. You said to me “calm down” “Take a deep breath” “Think,” you said. “This is Kaia we’re talking about.” And I thought “what would I be thinking at 12?” And that’s when I remembered.
I remembered the time when I decided to “run away from home” in the seventh grade. I had been deeply embarrassed that day at school because I laughed during my public reading at church. In my pre-teen mind, the pressure of that and the other problems I was dealing with at the time were simply too much – and I bolted. I know now, or at least I believe, that what I really wanted was another reality. I wanted just for a little while not to have “those” problems, even if it meant creating new ones. I didn’t think for even a moment about how my sudden disappearance would affect you. I didn’t think about how panicked you must have been when I didn’t call you like clockwork by 4:00PM to say I was in the house and safe. I didn’t think about what your worst fears might have been about what had happened to your only child. I didn’t think of these things because I was selfish – as children often are. Not a mean, malicious kind of selfish, just a self-absorbed, naive kind. The kind that thinks that their problems are larger than life and the only ones that exist. The kind that thinks that no one can help them because no on understands. And the kind that thinks that they have the answers at the tender age of 12.
I’m sorry. Or rather, I apologize because, like you always taught me, “anyone can be sorry, it takes a big person to apologize.”
I know now. I understand the gripping fear that takes hold of you when you allow yourself for just a moment to imagine your life without your child. I understand the deeply sad and vastly empty feeling that creeps up from the pit of your stomach and anchors in the depths of your soul. Even if you don’t wallow in those feelings, just a glimpse of them is nightmarish. I understand.
The BG and I are different and the same. She is dealing with some similar, but many more dissimilar issues than i was at her age. But I’m sure her 12-year-old mind processes many things the same way that i did. She didn’t run away yesterday, she simply got her wires crossed and was at the wrong library branch. I thank God for that. She is mostly a good kid and I never have too much trouble from her, but you never know.
One thing for sure about your “kaiahead” she’s courageous where i wasn’t. I wish i had the courage to talk to you then. I wish i realized that you were my ally and your purpose was to protect me, not mine to protect you. I foolishly wanted to shield you from my hurt and anger and embarrassment and pain. I didn’t get that God put you in my life because you had the space and strength to handle whatever my tender years had to offer.
So this is an open letter to say thank you and I apologize. Thank you for being here now, always supportive, always objective, always a rock. And thank you for being there then with your worries and your fears and your heartache and your patience and your calm and your insight. I know it’s all love.
I can’t turn back the clock, but i can pay it forward. And that’s exactly what I try to do everyday. I hope I can be even half the mother that you aspired to be.
With all my love,