Monday, January 24, 2011

The Unforgivable Choice

Choices, we make them every day with immense ease. How do you take your coffee? What will you wear? Which kid will you wake first to start the day? What will you make for dinner? These are the easy ones. Then there are the hard ones. How and when do you explain death to your child? Do you tell a friend her husband is a jerk and is disrespectful of her? College fund for kids or retirement? But even these seem like cake when you are confronted with what feels like a lose-lose, simply unforgivable choice.

Choosing between your children. Maybe choice is the wrong word. Prioritizing among your children’s needs certainly may be more accurate (and definitely feels better to say it this way) but in the end if you are the kid who didn’t have the priority need than you simply were the one who wasn’t chosen.
To look into the little, needy face of one of your children who is pleading for your time and attention and turn away to another is so wrong, so unnatural, so painful and despicable feeling. It is just simply unforgivable.

Yet, in the face of this seemingly unforgivable choice what can we do? I spent months choosing between my kids. I was in the hospital, away from two of my kids caring for my third (both while in my body and out) for over two months. I was choosing to care for the one who it seemed needed me the most. I would talk on the phone daily to my other two and listen to their requests for me to come home, to hug me, to have me tuck them in. Over and over again I had to tell them no because I was keeping their baby sister safe. Sometimes that was an acceptable answer for them, they had other things to distract them and they said “okay mama” and went on about their day, other times they didn’t give a rats ass about this supposed baby they saw nothing of; they wanted needed their mother and mama was choosing another over them. 

I like to think that my children each being one of three will in time learn from occasionally being set aside for one another to be empathic, compassionate, generous and will grow a servants heart. I also want them to know they matter and even their smallest need is indeed important, because after all when you are five and need help finding the green hotweel with the red flames not getting it really could cause one to have “the worst life ever.” I like many a mothers have resorted to sharing the real tragedies of the world, the reality that some kids don’t have parents, food, homes, and terminal illness in an attempt to give them a little perspective. But is that really fair? Is it fair to say to a two year old who is asking to be rocked while the baby simultaneously needs to be nursed with some peace and quiet surrounding her, “Listen honey, I know you want mommy right know but you can’t have me. But take joy in the fact I will be with you in 20-30 minutes unlike some children in Africa whose mommies have died of AIDS”  Ok, an over-reaction perhaps, but “just a couple minutes honey” feels the same because even in this small moment I am choosing between my kids.

Enter emotionally overextended Mama. Because I tell one to wait at any given time, I ensure I make up for it later, so needless to say I spend my days running the circle of children attending to physical and emotional needs. Trying in vain to make each feel as important as they truly are to me; to make up for any lost moments we may have had. To remind each one of their uniqueness, their own special place in my heart and that yes, no matter what I have time and space for each of them.  But do I? On whose scale are we measuring, mine or the kids? Because I am sure they are different. Am I overestimating my own importance in their day to day life? Is having the need of a PB&J (NOW!) really about needing mom to care for them or just about getting something in their stomach and would sending them on their own to the fridge for a pre-packaged lunchable suffice?

Mi Prima often tells me I over-analyze, and that all these worries are mine, not the kids. I suppose she is right. To some degree I am creating my own worries and issues.

But when they are grown, will they know? Will they know that every day I CHOSE them, each of them?  Will they know that it is their spirits that keeps my heart beating? Will they know that every day I look deeply into their faces and see every glimmer, every question, every worry and I bury it in my own heart? Will they know that even when I had to choose one of their siblings that they still mattered more than they will ever know?

Perhaps not…until they are a parent themselves that is.
And it is I, not them I suppose, who has to learn to be okay with this.

1 comment:

Woman Laughing said...

If only we could be supermamas all the time, and give as much of ourselves as our children (and others even) demand of us ... but we only have so much to give, and so what we do give, it should give wisely ... we have to give with absolute kindness and compassion and love. As long as we do this, we are okay. Like my shaman said, as long as you do EVERYTHING with kindness and gentleness, everything will work out in the end.

You ARE a supermama though ... taking care of three little ones the way you are, and being so loving and thoughtful of all of them.

Believe in this and you will be fine :). Promise.

Much love to you during this time (and all time, really, Lol!).


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