You find yourself at the center of a huge debate. You’re the new black, the hot topic, part of a growing epidemic, an oft-cited statistic that grows at alarming rates or not at all, depending on who is doing the reporting. You’re living the thing most families fear. You’re the brave one, the resilient one, the courageous one, the one doing something she or he (but mostly she) says she can’t imagine herself doing, performing some super feat of parenting, loving with super patience or super understanding or super tolerance while she races home to a child that skips up the path of maturation and competence and independence and connection with nary a nudge from anyone.
You find that the black box of the brain has been tossed on your lap. It’s hot and silent and seemingly impenetrable but that doesn’t stop you. It burns there on your legs as your husband casts worried or guilty or even heartbroken looks before he runs out the door or up the stairs to take care of other business like buying insurance and shopping home insulation. You pick it up (you can take the heat) and turn it over and hold it up to the light and shake it and knead it and knock on it, looking for the secret spot that will slide open a panel. You whisper to it, sing, cajole, beseech, berate, and then smash it against the wall over and over.
And still. You learn things, things about social emotional development, more than you ever imagined. You notice moments of connection. You recognize the astonishing complexity of the human being. You hold it in the soft cup of your hand like the exquisite mystery it is. You take nothing for granted. You celebrate victories where others see only a blur. You acquire second sight, the ability to slow down time. This is your super power. Now you’re like your son. This portion of your brain bulges.
You feel superior.
You’re in a graduate course on the human condition. You’re getting a PhD in the soul, in the stuff that really matters. You watch your ambition float down the river hoping it takes along your pride, your ego, your superficiality, your competitive streak, the one that taunts you with fantasies of how you will show them all one day when your best-selling book becomes an academy-award winning movie.
You’re constant companions with your shortcomings, your fear, your fury, your futility, your ineptitude, your impatience, your envy, your boredom, and Oh, your guilt. Your perfectionism drives you like a slave master, lashing you to the rock of all that you can’t escape. You let go. You hold on. You let go. You hold on. You, all the yous inside you, become a family, siblings, bound by blood and a deep loyalty though you often fight like cats, like orphans.
You fail every day. You hope to become a friend of failure but what you notice is that you slowly become a friend of forgiveness. It expands in you like a small balloon in your chest, rising with every intake of air, suspending with every exhalation, holding you up, moving you forward from that place that says, I love. I’m afraid. I love. I’m afraid.