This post is inspired by a memory that surfaced from elementary school;
Sometime during 4th grade, after the death of my Nana, Mom and I had a hard morning.
We were running late getting me to school. I do not know if my Mom was working at the time, so I am unsure if this feeling of rush and force was bigger than just me not getting to school on time, maybe there was more at stake than I knew.
Let me set the scene for you;
None of the clothes I want to wear are clean so Mom has forced me into a pair of jean shorts I am mortified to be seen in and some dumb shirt I do not like.
Here is the thing about these shorts; first you should know when I was kid money was tight so Mom got resourceful at times. She had a talent for sewing, she made both mine and my cousin’s first communion dresses and you would never have known they were not some expensive store bought dresses like the other girls. What my Mom created for me did not always line up with what 9-year-old fashion was at the time.
These shorts had been jeans that I ripped the knees out of while playing outside the prior summer. We could not afford to throw away clothes that still fit so Mom attempted to transform them into shorts and the end product fell short. I gave it little thought because I had another pair of jeans and a pair of shorts I could wear and re-wear so no one at school ever had to see my Mom’s creation anyway.
This particular morning my Mom had decided I would not re-wear my jeans for what was probably the 11th time in a row, with no other clean bottoms to wear she told me to put on the hacked up shorts.
So I was already sitting in dread of what the day would hold for me, I would surely be a target in these awful shorts, while I frantically tore up my closet floor looking for my sneakers as my Mom yelled we have to leave now!
My sneakers were no where to be found! How was I going to go to school shoe-less? Guess I would just have to stay home.
My Mom was having none of it. She shoved my fancy white church shoes (which were covered in scuff marks from climbing on everything in sight) over my colorful tube socks and told me to head for the car.
I was stupefied. What was she doing?! My protests were fierce and immediate; Mom I can’t wear my church shoes, I have to wear sneakers for PE or they won’t let me participate and I will get in trouble!
She did not budge and with that I was off to school in my rag tag jean shorts, dumb shirt, colorful tube socks and fancy white scuffed up church shoes.
My Mom dropped me off and left. I was so ashamed my eyes were burning before I got out of the car. I did not know how I was going to face the fourth grade, I did not know how I was going to survive the day.
This was my first walk of shame. I was late, the car ramp was empty. Alone I walked through the vacant halls, the little heels on my fancy white scuffed up shoes clacking an echo all the way to the brown metal door of my classroom. I peeked in the slatted window on the door, everyone was in their seats, class had started. I knew the moment I opened that door all eyes would be on me.
It must have been bad because I lose my memory here.
I pick back up maybe 30 minutes later; I am at my teacher’s desk, I am crying, I am asking to go see the guidance counselor. I have become close with our guidance counselor this year, I have spent some time talking with her between Nana dying and my cousin and first best friend being removed from the family and living in a group home.
In the counselor’s office she listens as I cry. She knows my Mother and thinks fondly of her, she tries to balance my feelings for me. There is no balance to be struck, I am wounded and I have no room for whatever my Mother’s truth might be. In my mind she made me prey and then abandoned me in the lion’s den that was the 4th grade.
The counselor has a pair of sneakers from the lost and found she offers me so I can participate in PE. They are only a small step up from my fancy white scuffed up church shoes. I see another pair, some black Keds with cool mesh sides, I ask for those ones instead – Maybe I can survive the day in those, maybe the kids won’t notice my Mom-sewn-shorts and instead they will just see my cool sneakers. The guidance counselor explains that those shoes are too small for me. I know she is right but I am desperate, I plead and she concedes. I wedge my tube socked foot into the too small shoe and blissfully ignore my cramped toes as I walk back to class.
I know that I do not know this story in full. I know what my scraps of memory tell me, I know what my feelings tell me, but I do not know what I am missing due to dissociation and I do not know what my Mother’s truth is. I can make conjectures and try to fill in blanks based on what I knew of my life at that time but to what end?
This was not one of my big traumas in childhood, it was a hard day. I think the reason this memory has stayed with me is to serve as a reminder now.
I am the adult, he is the child. What will moments like these look like for us?
There are so many times when I have a plan in my head for how the day will go, every minute for the next three hours planned out, then he wakes up from nap and takes an extra long time eating his yogurt because he really wants to work on holding the spoon today. Or we are going to the playground but a few feet outside the door he decides he would rather sit in the driveway and play with sticks.
Here are some things I know;
The first is that I have something now that my Mother did not have when I was 9, security.
Financial security that allows me to be home right now and not working on someone else’s schedule where our mornings would be rushed and potentially stressful.
Security in who I am as a Mother. I am so connected to my truth of infinite enoughness, his and my own, that no part of me can be shaken into believing we are less. Even when I get it wrong I know I am enough. When it is hard, we are enough, this is enough, all of it is enough. This truth goes beyond my role as Mother, it is woven into every part of my being. This level of security within myself keeps me from falling into places of scarcity where I would value being on time over him or our connection in a moment. It keeps me from valuing “doing” over “being”. It keeps me right here where I am meant to be, in the moment with him.
Of course there are times where we make plans and try to keep a schedule and of course I balance what is going on with him with that schedule. I would not dishonor someone else’s time because he wants to continue playing blocks. What I am very clear on is this; if one day my nine year old child is having a hard morning because we are running late and the clothes he wants to wear are not clean, and he cannot find his sneakers, and maybe I am even running late for work or another important adult commitment… I will pause.
I will be with him, as long as it takes for us to find our way through and out the other side. We will take the time to find the shoes and we will talk about his feelings of anxiety or disappointment, if any, around not being able to wear what he wanted to wear to school. I will put everything else down if that is what it takes to hold space for him.
The way I, together with my husband, love him is the way he will learn to love himself. And if I am willing to do this for him, I have to be willing to do it for me too. That is the other thing I know, my Mother has never fully known how to hold space for me because she does not hold herself sacred.
We, all of us, you, me, our babies, our parents – we are ALL worthy of time. The world will continue to tick away while we exist inside of our pause taking care of ourselves and each other.
I am grateful that my inner nine-year-old has been sitting here next to me riding shot gun and guiding my heart as I parent this sweet soul who chose me.
I am grateful for all the ways my Mother failed me, therein giving me so much opportunity to build the resilience needed to become the human I am meant to be.
I am grateful for my ability to hold space for myself, it creates capacity for me to hold sacred space for those I love most, which is sometimes the stranger walking next to me and sometimes my sweet little boy.
Holding space for myself tonight meant writing this story down because this is the moment it was ready to be shared. Holding space for myself tonight meant asking my husband if he would be willing to hold a little space for me tomorrow by getting up with little bubby so I could catch up on the sleep I will miss to be here with myself and share this story.
As I close I am holding the energy of deep gratitude is for my husband, who holds space for me with so much love, and for every other person in my life who holds space for me and allows me to feel what it is like to be held sacred.