Can there be room in your heart to love me even if I am not the smartest woman in the world? Or if I never earn a degree? Or if I find high school math harder to figure out thirty years later than when I first learned it?
Can there be room in your heart to love me and space to get to know me?
Did I fail you by not showing you that love is not earned? Did I fail to tell you that love is best when there are no conditions tied to it. A mother's love is for all time, no matter what.
There is so much you don't remember, so much you were too young to understand. I fear you have heard way too much from someone who is hurt and angry to see me for who I really am.
As an insult last night, you stated that I don't love science, since I don't love graphing like you do. You implied you like science, like your dad. No room for me to love science too. I sometimes forget how very narrowly you view the world. I wish you would apply your fact based knowledge and scientific methodology to really examine your perceptions of who I am.
I love science and have been your science buddy since you were a toddler. I set up experiments for you all day. My favorite times were watching you explore music and sounds and water and dirt. Every day I tried to have something new for you to see and touch and feel, all while you sat in the safety of my lap twirling my hair or holding my hand as we took our walks.
I am the woman who bought you all of those huge science books and read them to you. The first time you heard the scientific names of animals, dinosaurs or plants was from my mouth. I sounded them out for you and then later we sounded them out together.
I am the woman who sat with you for four years trying to get you to read and then would give up and pull you up close to me and read you stories meant for older children to fill your imagination until you could read on your own. I am the body you curled up on while I tried to read books to fill my own brain.
Not once did I tell you that you were not smart. Not once ever, did I yell at you or belittle you for having no interest in something. I fostered your love of science into every day and lesson we had.
I had hoped that I had taught you that everyone is special and everyone is smart and that everyone has something very important to teach you. Some days, for all of your "smarts", I am not sure you get how much you break my heart. You say mean things and then laugh and explain you were just kidding. Your dad did this to me too. I shared with him many times that words spoken can never be taken back and that I believed he meant what he said, he just knew it was mean so he tried to take it back by saying he was just joking.
I grow tired of playing stupid to your father's genius. I am quite certain that even if I do earn a degree, it will not be in an area of any perceived worth.
I grow weary of hearing his derogatory remarks come out of your mouth at me.
I wish you could remember all of the years when he barely noticed you. You don't remember that I had to force him to do science with you and it never turned out well and you didn't really get to enjoy his brilliance because he would be a college instructor droning on in front of an audience. He was incapable of explaining the steps and then stepping back to let you attempt the experiment on your own. It was just easier and faster if he did everything and showed you. That my dear child is not how you learn. You are a toucher, a feeler, a tinkerer, an engineer.
Can there be room in your heart to love me if the only purpose I was put on this earth to fulfill was to be your mom?
Can there be room in your heart to love me if my greatest achievement ever was only to raise you and your sister?
Of all of the things I have done, places I have visited, jobs I have held, the two of you are what I put every ounce of my soul into. I may never have a piece of paper that declares I am smart. I may never make $6,000.00 a month. I may never have a fancy title on my business card, but all that I am and all that makes me so very special is inside you.
I have brought you places where I knew you could experience new ways of thinking and force you to wonder and imagine. I have brought you to the door of every bit of knowledge, even when I could not enter the room with you. I have carried you to the smartest people I could find and watched as you walked off with them talking their ears off. I have never let my lack of knowledge hold you back.
Your love of reading, music, science, art and science were built from my love of you and me wanting to share this whole big ole' world with you.
Each time you think of just the right song for what you are doing, you are pulling from a part of me. I have always known the right music to create a feeling.
Each time you read or hear a phrase that makes you sit back and taste the sweetness or eloquence of the wording, you are pulling from a part of me. I love finding work by an author that really knows how to express themselves.
Each time you lose yourself in book for an afternoon, it is because you grew up making forts from all of the books I was currently reading and that sat on every flat surface in our house.
Each time you push for the independence you so rightly feel is yours for the taking, I salute you and remember when you did this as an infant, a toddler and again as you left preschool. I am not a stranger to your need to do it on your own. I have sat off to the side and watched this behavior since you were born. I was always within hearing distance and my full attention was always on where you were and what your next step was. I never wanted you having to find me to be an additional irritant when you were in the middle of your next breakthrough. I have always been right on hand. All you had to do was look up and your eyes would tell me you were about to give up.
You weren't mean back then to me. You didn't feel you had to be smarter than me to make yourself feel better. Back then you just wanted to accomplish it on your own with as little assistance from me as possible. You didn't feel the need to be superior to me back then. You didn't feel the need to hurt me back then.
I am not certain if you will ever be able to forgive me for breaking up your happy home. You will probably never know that the best thing I ever did was leave your dad. It forced him to become a dad to you.
I am not certain you will ever be able to stand back and acknowledge that you and I are on similar paths with the same family of demons. I had to break free because all I heard was that I was not enough, not as good, not right, too this and not enough that. Living life being made to feel that you are not right is painful. I wonder if you feel the same way?
Oh my sweet child, I need you to know that you are very worthy. The best of everything I am and everything I have learned is inside you.
I pray you will meet friends along your way that help you to understand that all that matters is you, not what you own, not where you live, not where you went to college, not how much money you make. I pray that your life is filled with strong feminist women and emotional men who show you that you are flawed and fabulous and that you can put down your need to judge everyone around you because you are enough, just as you are, you are worthy of achieving every dream you have ever whispered up to the full moon or on a birthday candle.
I can tell you that I am so happy to be free. I have found my own group of friends who know my worth and help me on my weak days to remember I have so much to offer to the world. I have friends who remind me that I am worthy. That I am smart. That I am able to do anything I choose with ease. They remind me that I have already accomplished so much to get to this point. I hope that you get to know the feeling of having people understand you.
My old life was full of explaining myself and then looking into dead, judgmental eyes that could not understand any bit of what I had said or felt. That is a very rare experience for me now. When I speak and connect with people out here in the real world, they are nodding their heads and agreeing and letting me know that the connection has been made. They have felt what I am feeling or can imagine what I am describing.
There is more than one path to success. I need for you to know this because as my child, you are not going to pick the easy road. I imagine you and I will be on this bumpy path for a long while as you figure out that you have to embrace the whole you, to find true happiness. I wish being smart was the way to great success, but it is not. No one likes being with a know-it-all. My only source of comfort is that I am certain you have in you enough of me, to help people see that you are so much more. I imagine you will find your clarity and purpose once you accept and utilize both your head and your heart.
Can you reach back and remember when your feelings of me were your own, before the divorce, before the dark ugliness was allowed to go unchecked. Before you felt you had to choose. Before I had to be wrong to his right?
I am far from perfect and have not hid my mistakes from you. As your mother, I know you need to see that life is not fair and that people are not fair. While I wish it didn't happen so often, I need for you to see me cry. I need for you to know that crying is not weakness, it is being present in a moment. You my son, are a big feeler, and my job is to be the voice in your head that reminds you that life is better when you feel the full spectrum of feelings. Feel the bad feelings with as much attention as riding through the highs of joy! Don't cheat yourself out of being present in each moment. This is what will draw people to you and make them fall in love with you. You have in you the greatness of a leader, not because of your perceived intelligence, but because of your ability to connect with people.
Can you start taking the small steps to be your own man and can you choose to be a good man, a kind man?
Can you make room for me in your heart and learn to draw strength from my love and belief in you? I promise I am strong enough to love you through these very difficult times.
I hope you can find a place for me in your heart, where it is alright for me to just be me.