Yesterday Thomas and I made the hour or so car ride over to Holiday Shores, IL so we could spend the day with his Godparents and family on a Fourth of July celebration. As we made the journey, I had Thomas take “quite time” (aka nap time because momma needs a break and wants to listen to the lyrics of her new Jason Aldean CD …) before we arrived at our destination. About half way into the trip he awakes crying … one of those cries that you consider pulling the car over to address. I won’t go into detail behind his tears as its hard for me to express without becoming quite upset myself, but I will tell you that after a long talk I became conscious that his thoughts must have been weighing heavily on his little mind. What caused him to be upset is out of my control, and it broke my heart yesterday trying to explain to him the reasons why. But he listened, attentively, as I explained thoroughly that I was very pleased that he knows he can talk to me, openly and unreservedly – and that if he ever has any more questions or thoughts, to feel free to discuss them with me always. I also made sure that no matter how much I express it, he can never know how much I love him – all the way to the moon and back is our saying, but that still is not enough for the love that I hold. Our talk calmed him – he went back to slumber land and I spent the rest of the trip in awe of the conversation.
When we arrived I was instantly compelled to speak to his Godparents about the exchange. I needed another perspective. As a single parent you feel the pressure to be three steps ahead of the game at all times, and feel there is never room for error. Once I poured out my heart, surrounded by the sounds of waves crashing on the beach, and the assurance from his godparents that I had addressed the issue well, I felt solace that the little boy I am raising came to me with his questions … how hard it must have been, how long they must have been bouncing in his thoughts … at the end of the day I take comfort that I am doing my job as a parent – I am making sure he knows beyond a doubt, he can find refuge in our relationship and placate whenever he needs … for whatever questions, or thoughts, or debriefings his mind holds.
The lesson here grasshoppers is one that I myself must constantly keep in the forefront of my mind. When the questions of today weigh on us – both emotionally and physically – we have those around us that we can turn to in our moments of distress. They welcome our questions, no matter how hard they are to ask or hear, with an open mind, and an open heart. Through the power of conversation we are given new insight – new wisdom – to understand, and to move forward. I struggle with reaching out for help; I tend to pile on the responsibilities and stress until I crack and break. In the moment of capsize is when I use my “phone a friend” card and vent/ cry / hash out. These discussions give me clarity and new found thoughts of the greatest importance.
Isn’t that one of the true foundations in the meaning of friendship? You extend your hand in your moment of need … and you are met with a hand in yours. Granted, I won’t be as foolish to say that I extend more than I meet – but as I drive it into Thomas head, I am quite fortunate to have the opportunity to drive it into my own, and hopefully yours:
Reaching out, seeking console is not a moment of weakness – it’s a moment of strength. It’s not erasing the questions at hand, it’s providing a stepping stone to understanding, and working through. Sure we have our days, weeks, and sometimes longer, that we hold it in – maybe thinking no one will understand, maybe thinking we will be judged, maybe thinking it’s not worth the effort – but I cannot tell you one conversation with a true friend where I did not leave the dialogue feeling relief.
Life does have room for error. Us “overachievers” (that would be me, and in all likelihood yourselves in some retrospect) tend to be hard on ourselves; our bodies, our minds. We don’t truly reach out until we are at the end of our rope. We don’t view failure as an option, or conform well outside of the way we plan. Coming back to the Jason Aldean lyrics (oh you knew I would eventually, I love what music can incorporate!), track five is entitled – Don’t Give Up on Me. He speaks of not being exactly as he thinks he should – he is hard on himself in every sense of the word. But at the end of the day – his mind racing, clouded with thoughts – harvesting questions and lacking answers – he knows there is that one person who can always lift him from his doubt in himself, and the world around him.
Look around you: there is a person, or persons, that you have a comfort level with that allows you to not only be yourself – completely, truly, and honestly – but they give you the belief in yourself. A belief that you don’t question being able to turn to – again and again. A belief that allows you to surrender your thoughts. A belief that answers one very important question that I cannot formulate for you, but in this case will provide you with the answer:
“When life is not exactly as I have planned; when I question, when I struggle, when I need the zone of comfort <- Insert Name or Names ->was placed in my life."
The true gift of any relationship is commutation; and being able to tap that resource when you need it the most.