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Side by Side

You didn't ask me to be born, and yet here you are.

Each day, by no choice of your own you see all of me, for better or for worse. And you try to make sense of all my contradictions. Sometimes you tell me I am the worst mother ever, sometimes you tell me I am the best.

And either way, you are right.

Each day I try to catch up to my fears and see you whole. Some days I am able, others I am left unsettled by my fears of a world that would swallow you up whole.

Sometimes I slow down enough to see the gift of you in my life. Other moments I am swept up in a current of my own journey, and I barely sense you chasing behind.

I know you wonder why it is that sometimes you have to ask me over and over to get you a glass of milk, or to come and look at what you've created--after all, I'm always pointing out the magic of you in my life, and encouraging you to create, and to feel the pure joy in it--so why is it that I can't take a moment to revel in your experience of it? Why can't I always put you first?

It is often when you are in your beds sleeping, or absent, resting your tiny heads at Papa's-- in those quiet moments when there is a hush to the house, that I understand how I've militantly destroyed your worlds in the name of tidiness; the worlds you'd so wanted to show me, spread around the borders of your bedrooms, that look like piles of clutter and garbage, that to no fault of your own, automatically weigh me down.

Yes, it is in the quiet moments when I am finally ready to see what you've made, when I realize it is too late, and that if only I'd looked close enough at what you'd strewn about, I would have seen a map of your world in it.

Sometimes when you are cleaning up your messes, resisting my every request, painfully struggling to find any rhyme or reason to my torturing you, when you are bartering and pleading, I realize you've long given up on showing me what you've created, lost in a futile fight to save yourself, your creations the least of your worries. Still I can't stop the demon thoughts that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Not even my love for you can transcend this, most of the time.

You told me this morning before school that you both wanted to go to Never Never Land, and never grow up. You didn't want to eat your vegetables, because you didn't want to grow up big and strong.

And I couldn't argue with you. I imagine that the adult world I've shown you must look a little intimidating.

I want to tell you that this world was never meant for such beauty as yours. Even I, your mother, who loves you beyond anything I could have ever imagined, will never see you in your full splendor all the time.

My vision of you is confined to the only tiny precious moments of space between my fearful thoughts and my need for control.

And this will be your experience. This will be how you experience others.

I want you to know that in every moment, all of us are suffering for our sanity, and it is a process to learn to see beauty.

I want you to know that this is okay--for you to remember the day when you find yourself in that place.

The magic I do notice is that much more precious, because I don't always see it. When I am able to let go, I am awestruck by the beauty. I couldn't stay there too long, because I might not be able to stand the beauty that would eventually become too much to bear, when it would eventually turn to pain.

I want to tell you what I love. I love the tender moments when we are snuggled up on the couch reading stories, when we are all overflowing with hugs and kisses, and each of you nuzzles up to one side of me, sometimes hanging on every word of the story, sometimes desiring less to listen, and more to giggle with one another.

I love the end of the day, because it is easier for me to feel free from the demands of my mind.

I love when we sing together just before you go to bed. I love when you are in your jammies, soft and tender, and open.

We meet somewhere in the middle here, and I feel what it is to settle, to experience, to give and to receive, all at once.

In those precious moments when we are both receptive to the other, I am unhindered by the knowledge that soon you or I will require our own space.

I want you to understand that there will always be times that you will be ready to be grown up, and times when you will want to stay a baby.

I hope you get to visit Never Never Land, always when you need it, and feel the release of giving yourself permission to be nothing more in this life, than what you are already.

And upon your return from this magical place, I will do my best to watch you move into what is next for you, and when I can, I will follow you by the hand, and witness the magic you've made.

I hope that you will always create, even when no one comes to see what you've made, even when others destroy it, and even when you, yourself, can see but a faint glimmer of joy in it.


  1. I love the picture, sooooooo darling.

    I love this piece! So real and tender! Your children are blessed to have you as their mom.

    What a gift for your children... to be able to "see" their Mother through her beautiful words.

    What makes me the see you SOAR, strong and beautiful, taking everything in, seeing the beauty, no matter what form it takes, finding that beautiful balance. Lastly, seeing that the disfunction of childhood did not clip your wings!

  2. This is beautiful, Brooke, and so very honest and wise.

    I admire your courage to look closely, to see the gifts in it all.

    And the much sweetness there.


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