“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” –C.S. Lewis
There’s just no way to predict it.
I expect the tears on Monday, when we’ve had the weekend together, to blend and lean in to each other, each settling into the next one’s edges and curves until we emerge after the weekend, one unit that must be broken for another five days. Monday comes and both boys head into their schools with minimal protests, absent of tears, and I walk away from them pleasantly surprised.
Then Tuesday arrives to bitch slap me in the face and I’m left reeling.
Little Brother was denied entry into a tower-building partnership by a boy with whom I had thought, five minutes earlier, I had established a rapport. Harrumph. I thought for sure that would bring on the waterworks, as he looked at me uncertainly; then his teacher suggested they read a book together and he nodded resolutely, walking off to hold said teacher by the hand, and The Kid and I headed to his school.
We arrived, switched out his reader and hung his bag as usual, and he was all smiles for the whole of it. Then, inexplicably (to me), the tears began: “School is hard. School is boring. Take me home.” From someplace deep within me came the strength and conviction that are not of me, and I took a knee beside him, the ground gravelly and painful on my skin.
“Remember: I’ll share the sad with you.”
“What will happen to it?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“It will get lighter until you don’t even feel it.”
“Where’s God?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“In your heart.”
I went on to tell him other answers he already knows: that his therapist is with him. That he’s stronger than anyone I know–the scar on the back of his neck (and countless other memories he hasn’t even retained but I have) proving it. That he is loved and cared for and kept.
“Walk up the steps with me,” he said, and I pushed against my own weight, against the weight of a thousand heartbreaks, to walk that way, then turn around. He went into the classroom and out of my sight.
Out of my sight, but the weight remains. It remains for the mothers I talk to throughout the day, commiserations longer than the days themselves, stretching out through the years with our worries over these children we’ve carried and still carry, always, one way or another. The seven pounds at birth translating to a weight that grows throughout a lifetime, in and out of moments and never leaving. The weight of love, of responsibility, of obligation, of limited freedom but occasional glory.
The other day I was walking TK home and up ahead, I saw another mother with her son. On the main road, with the six lanes of traffic speeding by. They were skipping.
There are some weights that lift us.
“Many hands make lighter work,” my friend said to me the other night as she helped wash our dinner dishes, quoting her mother half-jokingly, and I thought of all the people who have been added to our life by our struggles, by our move, by the things we never would have chosen. How content I would have been to stay comfortable, protecting myself. How I never knew it before, the way to turn a Transformer robot into a car and back again. How I never would have had scar stories.
Last weekend, The Husband and I went out for Valentine’s Day, celebrating it our favourite way: with a movie. A new world in Africa opened up to us onscreen and afterward, we stepped into the Sydney night, a new world that is now a year old to us, that never would have happened had the boundary lines of our existence–the ones I set–not been scattered. The weight of life fluttering in the breeze all around us, grace with wings, kindly making us feel as though we were the ones who pulled something off.