There are hard things you do as a mother–watch your little ones get hurt, seeing them learn painful life lessons, ground them when they do wrong so they learn what’s right—and they are hard.
It’s hard to have them let go of your hand and toddle off the big kid school.
It’s hard to watch them drive away.
It’s hard to dry their tears when their heart gets broken for the first time.
Those are hard.
Today I had to do the impossible.
My little one is socially awkward and painfully shy. When she find someone she likes we jokingly (although it’s not in jest) the stalker. She immediately bounds. She loves that person fiercely. She clings to them. She gives out squishy hugs often. When she loves she loves hard.
My bug goes to the rec department for after school. It’s not ideal. It’s k-5th on a loud, noisy gym. You find your own playmates. For someone timid and nervous about making friends this is hard. But it was our only option. So we made the most of it.
Her tales of after school were of not glowing. It was loud. The big kids were mean. No one would play with her. They called her fat. They made fun of her when she did handstands and her belly showed. I teared up more than once on the way home.
But then things changed. She got in the care one day and announced she had a new best friend. She had someone play that played with her. She was happy. She was connected.
Brittany was a counselor who took time with my girl. They made friends. They played and hugged and did all the things that made Sadie feel safe, content and happy.
And today I had to tell my sensitive, big hearted little girl that her beloved Miss Brittany wouldn’t be coming back.
About 1p I got an email.
At 1:45 I got a personal call because the other counselors knew how close Sadie and Brittany were.
At 3p I was sitting in a cold, sterile room when they told all the kindergarteners-third graders very efficiently and matter of factly explained that their beloved miss Brittany was in a car accident and died and that she was in heaven and wouldn’t be coming back.
My 7 year old was sitting in a counselors lap. She saw me but wouldn’t make eye contact. I saw her face after the news was told.
As planned they delivered the news and then hustled the kids to activities. Those that were visibly upset were encouraged to stay behind and talk to one of the counselors they brought in to help.
My girl got in the parchute game line. She wouldn’t look at me. One they way out the door I heard her say,”where is miss Brittany?” The line paused. A counselor leaned down and said,”did you not hear Ms. Lisa?” Sadie shook her head no indicating she had no idea what was said. I knew she’d heard. I was watching her face when she heard it. She’d heard but not understood. I rushed to her and gathered her on my arms and repeated the news. Her eyes big, she listened and then said,”I have to go to the gym for parachute games.” I let her go.
A few minutes later, boundaries be damned, I marched into the gym and peeked around the corner. There was my bug lifting and pulling the paprchute whiles kids chased balls and played tag under it. She saw me and gave the the saddest smile I’ve ever seen. I sat on the bleachers where she could see me.
It wasn’t long before she came running to me with tears in her eyes. She laid her head down in my lap. “Want to go home baby?” She shook her head no. “What to play with your friends?” She shook her head no. “Want me to sit here with you?” She shook her head yes. So we sat there. Me rubbing her back and her fighting tears.
And so went the afternoon. She’d sit a bit and then run and join in the games. Then she’s run back to me. I told her I wouldn’t leave. Several times I had to tell her. “Momma will sit here as long as you want,” she nodded and ran off again.
It wasn’t long before she was back. “I wish she was alive,” she said. I solemnly nodded. She crawled up for a hug. “I miss her.”
Then off the went.
The next visit,”will I see her again?” No. I told her. Not here. She walked away this time.
Back and forth we went. Sometimes she wanted very specific details about where and why and how. I have her what a 7 year old could handle. But, as hard as it was, I answered every question.
“Momma her dog!!!! She will miss her dog. She has a doggy!” This time tears did spill over. I wrapped her in my arms and told her that her dog would miss her but that someone in her family would take good care of the dog. After that she was ready to leave.
We did homework. In between quarters and dome counting she would suddenly remember and ask a question. Her little mind seemed to need details. What road? Where was she sitting? Was it her fault for speeding? Did she ride in a ambulance? Did she go to a hospital? Was her mom sad? And on and on it went. “I wish she were alive.” Was how it ended.
In the bathtub she asked if she was going to die. My grandmother died after her 100th birthday. My little one must have picked up on that somewhere along the way because she very pointedly asked how old her grandpa was, how old was gramsey, how old was I, how long until she was 100. I knew she was looking for assurances that those she lived wouldn’t leave her too.
Just before bed she sat came beside me and said,”I need help spelling some words.” Okay. She plopped up beside me in the couch, snuggled in close in her too big t-shirt, giant notebook and blue marker. She looked so innocent, so sweet and so sad.
With her blue marker, her favorite color poised over the notebook paper she said, “I need to know how to spell Brittany.” With my heart in my throat I watched her painstakingly sound out the words she wanted to use.
My girl had a full family one day and a split family the next. She had her own room in the house we brought her home to one day and was uprooted just a few weeks later. She went from 2 parents who doted on her to blue days and blue weekends. For someone so insecure she’s lost a lot at a young age.
“Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry,” I heard her quietly chanting to herself at one point. I hugged her close and told her it was okay to be sad and to cry. So she did. And my heart broke with every tear.
She dried her eyes and reached back for her notebook and markers.
This time she diligently drew a picture. “This is my mommy on the swing. My daddy has a swing too. Colton and Kinsley are her on the slide with me,” she explained. “We are pink and my daddy is blue.” She said. I listened and then asked if she wanted to call her daddy. She did.
My girl lost someone important to her today. She doesn’t really grasp it fully yet but the hurt reminded her of losing other people and things. It seemed to resonate with her-this feeling of loving and then that person going away.
She’s in my bed. On my side. Her thumb in her mouth. I told her sometimes you needed your mommy when you were sad. Truth me told I need her close tonight. I can’t fix it. Can’t make it hurt less. I can’t explain it. I can just love her and hold her and tell her it’s okay to be sad and to cry. I can be there.
As a mom you have to do hard and horrible things. My heart and prayers are with the moms of the 2 killed this weekend. They are enduring the worst thing a mother will ever have to do.