The girls start dance tomorrow. Irish Dance, actually, which we opted for over ballet this time around, and I’m really excited. The idea of Celtic music and french braids and jigs has my heart all aflutter.
Well, half of me, anyway.
The other half? Terrified. Nail biting, pacing back and forth, mind racingly scared. It sounds ridiculous, I know. A billion other 5 year olds dance every day, this is not by any means a phenomenon, and I’m sure once we get past that first day everything is going to be beautiful, but right now I’m brown-paper-bag breathing.
It will be the first time that I’ve left my kids out in the real world without me. They will be on their own with other kids and new adults and while I won’t be far (we’re talking a few feet) there will be a door and a wall between us, and so for all intents and purposes they will be without me. This happens, right? Most kids have already gone to preschool at new places, getting ready for Kindergarten, and so I’m sure to anyone reading this, this entire experience is a little pathetic.
How can I explain this… how can I put into words the way living a life with sick children can put such a mark on you?
From the moment they were created, to day one of their already too early lives, to years later still, I have had to fight for my children. In every way I can mean this. I have dug and fought in the trenches for their health and their lives. When my body kept one from growing, I had to fight it. I had to lie still, pumped full of artificial supplement, shots and treatments. I had to fight against my own body to bring my children into this world.
When they were born with flawed hearts, I fought on my knees. I have never prayed so fervently, so desperately. I researched, advocated, and stayed by their sides in those tiny hospital beds. I knew every risk of every procedure they proposed, I armed myself with more knowledge than a new mother should have to endure. Then when two babies both, not even 2 months old, underwent surgeries, I fought one of the toughest spiritual battles of my life – those waiting rooms were my Gethsemane.
A year later I fought again for my daughter, I fought to keep her fed and thriving when her body rejected it all. I fought against skepticism and doubt of my judgement. I took on the role of full time advocate while keeping careful watch over her declining situation, and I made sure she was noticed. And then, when they wanted to cut her apart, to take risks, I fought against it. I researched again, I advocated, I fought against egos who sought to put their pride above her life, and I made sure she got the best care possible. We rallied and we prayed that God would move. And I went into Gethsemane again. I prostrated myself and begged for mercy. I barely breathed for so long.
And then when we struggled to speak and walk and grow, I advocated and fought again.
And it’s only by God’s grace that we’re here now, today. So many miracles, so many answered prayers.
I am well seasoned now in the art of Maternal Warfare.
I am conditioned to fighting for my children’s lives – in a spiritual and physical sense.
And I am struggling with laying down that sword.
How do you let go what you have had to fight for so long to hold on? When you have looked down into the face of your child so many times and promised them you’d never let go? That they were safe with you, that you will fight for them?
To send them into the care of others… to let them wander out from under an ever watchful hedge of protection. Even for an hour once a week… this is proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
To trust someone else with the lives I’ve dedicated my own to protecting.
I didn’t think it would be so hard. I didn’t think this would be something I even noticed, and so this flood of emotion has taken me by surprise. It’s only now that I realized that I’ve never actually let my guard down.
But this is life, and no matter how much I continue to will time to stand still, it won’t. I know that one day they will venture beyond my reach, and I need to begin to teach them how to walk without my hand.
And so tomorrow I start the process of learning how to let go. For an hour anyway.