just love

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{Image is a photo of Super Brooke walking down the sidewalk wearing the hot pink satin cape with green “S” that I made her for superhero day at camp, July, 2010}

A story was going around online the other night, popping up on friends’ Facebook feeds here and there as though it were breaking news. We’ve all heard some version of it by now — two kids meet one day, one shy and awkward, bullied by his peers; the other social and popular, a football star. Years later, the latter finds out that the former was planning to kill himself on the day that they met and it was his kindness to him that saved him.

It wasn’t the story itself that bothered me, nor even the fact that it was being presented as true (fake photo and all) when it was merely allegorical. What really got to me was the way in which it was written. In the first person, our unnamed hero tells the story about how he saved Kyle. It felt profoundly wrong. The story, bogus or not, should at least have been written from Kyle’s perspective. Or at least been about Kyle. It wasn’t. It isn’t. It’s clear who the hero of the story is. The one telling us the story.

After digging around a bit online, and satisfying my need to verify that it was all crap, I came back to Diary’s Facebook page to check on comments, ever vigilant about keeping the space safe and drama free. I’d written earlier in the evening about Brooke having had a hard time after bedtime. About running into her room to find her sobbing, and taking her into my arms. About her asking me to stay with her. And how sometimes, when it feels like there’s nothing left to do for those we love, being is doing.

As I read through the comments on that and a couple of earlier posts,  I realized just how many of them were about me. She’s lucky to have me. I’m a wonderful mom. I appreciate the kind words. I get it. I wrote the story.  But I was profoundly uncomfortable with what felt like an inescapable parallel.

Please don’t mistake me for the hero in the tales that I share. After all, there is no hero in the story of a family, of life at the intersection of individuality, community and love.

Many other comments talked about inspiration. I get that too, but, still, it feels misplaced.

If you are to be inspired by our story, let the inspiration be this – to slow down. To see beauty in what you might have thought mundane. To peel back the layers, not only of what can someday be, but of what is now.

But, please, don’t be inspired by who we are. That’s an illusion. We are you.

If you need to find lessons here, I beseech you to find these –

The best way to encourage others to be who they are is to be who you are. When we honor our individual truths we validate one other’s right to do the same.

Learning the language of those you care about is a gift to you both. If yours is not instinctive to them nor vice versa, keep at it. Create a third. Call it Love.

Recognize and respect humanity – in all of its gloriously messy manifestations. No way of existing is more right nor wrong, no more or less valid than another. We are all human beings. We simply are.

Breathe.

Believe that anything is possible. Know that there is no deadline on development. That progress never stops.

Laugh. Laugh at your friends, laugh at bad jokes, laugh at yourself. Just laugh.

Know that there is no formula for connection. If all else fails, stop moving. Stop talking. Start watching. Wait.

When there’s nothing left to do, be. Because at the end of all that there is to be done, being is doing.

And remember, there are no heroes in the story of a family.

Just love.

Thank you for being here.

22 thoughts on “just love

  1. “We are you”….and that is why I come back every day to read your posts. I relate so well with your stories and message. Thank you 🙂

  2. I’d like to gently suggest that when you put yourself out there with the posts about Brooke’s rough times people want to say something – anything to help you. This may be because, right or wrong, they feel in that moment you are the one who needs encouragement – well, cause *you* are the one posting serious, emotional stuff. When they feel you need encourgement they focus on you. Perhaps that’s why they say she’s lucky to have you. They’re focusing on the person in front of them who is reaching out.

    • …..and (really, in the gentlest and warmest of tones) I don’t think the football star/Kyle analogy is the same at all and it’s a wee bit (like a twinge) hurtful. Football guy is taking all the credit without having any other connection to Kyle. He didn’t give birth to Kyle, love Kyle, advocate for Kyle, encourage Kyle, go-to-the-end-of-the-earth-and-wear-his-heart-on-the-outside-of-his-body-because-Kyle-is-his-baby. He is nothing to Kyle. People focus on you because you are “standing” before them sharing. And they feel the need to do “something”. What do you do when you have a mama in front of you (having coffee a the local place) sharing similar things? If it’s not the right thing – it’s good that you are telling them what you need (or don’t need). But don’t misinterpret the motivations for their kind words.

      • Oh gosh, I don’t at all and I’m so grateful for the kindness. I just worried when I read that Kyle post that I was, in some way, any way, making myself out to be “that guy.” Something I never want to do. Please believe me when I tell you how grateful I am for the love. Always.

  3. I think a lot of commenters reach out to your momminess because they are moms themselves and are so desperately looking for positive examples. Or they just want to tell you nice things because they want you to feel good. People often do that, I’ve noticed. 😛

    But you’re absolutely right. You have your story to tell. Brooke has her own story. And there is such beauty when those stories intersect. But it takes work and time and patience and love.

    We are all heroes for carrying on that work. You too. 🙂

  4. Eh, I don’t know. You’re raising a teenager who likes to hang out with you and requested kale salad for part of her birthday dinner (which you all found time to eat together.) In my book, that’s nothing short of inspirational 🙂

  5. Jess, I didn’t take away from your earlier post that it was in the first person. I saw what you intended that we all see; that like many other kids Brooke is afraid of the dark – perhaps more afraid because her world-view runs to extremes – and prior to yesterday she was unable to express that in words, and perhaps umable to grasp what it was that frightened her. That’s not about you, Jess. You are just her loving mom. You don’t make yourself out to be her hero; indeed, you cannot do that. Only Brooke can make you her hero.

    … and she does!

  6. “Believe that anything is possible. Know there is no deadline on development. That progress never stops…”
    This is fantastic and so very true. What I would add if that is ok is that is important the environment and the people involved is right. They encourage, assist and find ways to promote progress..
    Sometimes it about finding ways to help yourself, as the parent. Sometimes help comes out the traditional system( but be incredibly aware that are charlatans and those out to make money from all this).
    For us it has been around several issues but especially motor skills. I know now with that great thing called hindsight that preschool was wrong for my school. He gained very little there due to many reasons.
    Yet over the last year he has made huge progress in this area. Thanks to some wonderful people and me!!!
    Also sometimes it takes gentle coaxing to help…today I said to him I think cause you find things tricky you think learning is to…and the answer was Yes…So we talked about that learning for everyone is hard that is why you learn….It made a difference.

  7. I’ve read your posts for some months now. ALWAYS appreciate the insights about people, life in general, and your loved ones in particular. Never have I thought you were “glorifying” yourself, just sharing very personal, raw emotions, and giggles at times! Thank you!

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with this.. It seems to always rub me the wrong way when people praise me or tell me how wonderful I am doing being Hunter’s mom.. Really?! I mean, REALLY?! I am a mom, no better or less than any mom who has to deal with raising a child. Your child may have peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, hanging with the wrong people, etc… My child just has other issues he has to deal with. In many respects, he is just a boy growing up like yours is.. in many ways my son is just a typical kid and I make sure to treat him that way, but please don’t make me out to be some type of hero for doing what I do, what I need to do, what I LOVE to do for my child.

  9. I love how you “get it”. How slowing down, breathing, stopping, waiting, being there, all come to together and has been your formula for the aha moments, the I’m going to soak her up moments, the success you are seeing moments. I have loved following your blog as an educator in the field of special. Thank you for sharing and thank Brooke for sharing, too.

    Since I rarely read the comments, I am wondering if anyone has ever told you how “RDI” you sound. I’ve been through the training and love the philosophy of how they help parents to slow down, be aware of early development and what it looks like, and how to give their child a “do-over.” Parents slowing down and stopping helps the child to process information and learn referencing, which opens more doors for more perspective taking. Your discoveries on this journey are priceless to the parents who are longing for the glimpse of what is possible. You are a blessing.

  10. Love this. I often feel uncomfortable when people compliment my ‘mothering’ excessively after a post (even though I know they mean well). I cringe at those comments because that wasn’t the point of the post. It’s not my ‘mothering’ that makes my boys awesome. The point of my posts is: here are some ideas and approaches, experiences and understandings that I want to share with you because they might be useful to you.

    All of us within the family are overcoming our own challenges, applying our own strengths and adapting to one another. At this stage, I just happen to be the only one from my family writing about it (therefore mostly from my perspective) but that doesn’t make me the ‘hero’.

  11. I hear you completely. When I am told, “I don’t know how you do it. I could never do it. You are so good with him”, it hurts me. I know they mean well, but what do I do but love my son? What do I do that’s special? What do I do but try to understand the world from his perspective? It also makes me feel that others think he is so challenging that it’s hard to love him. It’s not. He’s taught me more than all my years of school and all the experts. I’m just his mom and lucky to be that! And you are simply Katie and Brooke’s mom….just a good one!

  12. I appreciate you so much, Jess, but this time, I wished that you wouldn’t tell me what to get from your post. You had me at “there is no hero in the story of a family”. Today, I’m just glad I don’t have to be a hero for anybody when it’s really just me, no cape, no wand, just a deep abiding need for a solid nap. Maybe I can try for that other stuff another day. Peace.

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