It happens all the time. But this particular time I could feel it coming true….cracking, breaking, somewhere deep inside.
There used to be enough of me to go around. I used to have two arms, two legs, and a brain that somehow worked together to make all the right things happen.
Then came Covid-19 and the governor’s orders to stay home.
I became the constant go-to person for each of the people in my house.
It’s not that I mind. I love them after all. It’s great that they ask me for help with what they need. Isn’t it nice of them to show me all the new flips and turns they learned to do on the couch? Why wouldn’t I be impressed with their moves in the 82nd game of “The Floor is Lava” or their 45th win of “Settlers of Catan”?
Then George Floyd was killed…and a spark ignited across the country. I know my side. I’ve known it for a long time. But is knowing enough? Probably not.
Now I’m standing here watching my family, friends, community, and country as they draw dividing lines in the sand. Each one taking a stance and shouting their perspective as if anyone who does not agree will be cut off and forgotten if they do not immediately agree.
I find myself going through the motions…feeding, clothing, playing…with my kids. My two arms, and two legs, and a brain somehow pulling everyone along.
But my heart is broken.
I can’t focus.
I realized this particular time was different. My children and I were sitting on the couch, cuddling as we watched something on television. They were fighting, again. I didn’t notice what the source of their fighting was about for a few minutes. (I’ve been tuning them out more than usual lately). When I started listening to their words so I could step in and mediate the situation or reprimand them as needed, I was astonished to find what they were fighting over.
They each wanted a piece of me.
My youngest said, “Just imagine mom’s nose being a line of noses all the way down her body and THIS SIDE is MINE. You have to stay on the other side.”
Am I the back seat of the car? The last brownie? Can they split me down the middle to ensure that everyone gets a part? Apparently they think I can just be divided up and everyone can take a piece of me…like it’s my sole role in life to ensure everyone feels safe, secure, and loved? Is there enough of me to go around? Will their dividing lines work?
I’ve tried to pull myself together. I’m still working on it. It’s hard these days. When the kids are fighting and everyone wants their way, my normal plan is to find a way to make it all happen…to make everyone happy. I’m the peacemaker, the mediator.
But sometimes there is no sharing. Sometimes there is a clear and obvious right that cannot be twisted or watered down. Sometimes there is no peacemaking or mediation.
There are times when we must turn off the fun and games even if we haven’t reached the Boss level or found the true winner of the game.
This is one of those times.
Things are not normal, not even a NEW-Normal. There’s no such thing as normal these days. I’ll never tell my children that it’s normal that they can’t see their friends or go to school for months on end. I refuse to tell my children that it’s normal for a hundred thousand people to die over the course of just a few months.
And I absolutely refuse to claim that it’s normal for people to be treated differently, negatively, even inhumanely, because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair.
I think it’s okay that my brain is fuzzy and my heart is sad. It’s okay to not have all the answers or be ready to play at the drop of a hat. I’m hanging on tight to keep the important parts together.
How much can a Mom take before she breaks into a million pieces along all those dividing lines? Those lines are cracks in the sand, ready to blow away in the fierce New Mexico wind.
So pardon me while I pull myself together. My silence in some areas is not a sign that I don’t care. It’s a sign that I care so deeply I don’t have words. Sometimes it’s a sign that I love you too much to push you away when you try to draw your lines on me, biting my tongue to keep from becoming the very thing I’m trying to prevent.
For myself, it’s time I choose one of my two legs and put my foot down. Maybe I’ll raise my two arms in my best defensive pose. It’s definitely time to let my brain take over again. Enough is enough. I’m not the last cookie to be split in pieces and divided among fighting pillagers. My life is mine and I must live it in a way that makes ME proud.
I refuse to allow dividing lines to be drawn for me by my demanding five-year-old, by my plantation-owning forefathers, or by anyone in between!
I will not become so divided that I blow away in the desert wind.
For my children, I must realize they do not need a mother who works at their whim, and my life is not theirs to command. These children of mine better learn to get by without mom holding everything together.
If we have learned nothing else in the last (very long and sad) few months, we have learned that life is short and nothing is promised us.
I will seek to help them understand that when you love someone, you don’t divide them. You don’t force them to choose you over someone else or choose your way as the only right way. There is plenty of love to share. And the more we share love, the more there is to share again.