Yesterday I was talking to my support partner about our little ones. He, per usual, listened attentively and then repeated something I had said, asking me to listen to my own words. “Tell me what you hear,” he said:
“I am afraid that I cannot love them enough to fix what is broken in them.”
Hmmm. I said, “Well, it’s not true that they are broken. They don’t need to be “fixed.” They have been terribly hurt, for certain. They have suffered and some of what has happened to them cannot be undone. I can support them and love them and advocate for them. But by the same token, these challenges are what make us who we are, what make us strong, what make us unique.”
“That’s true,” he said, “But if I may make a suggestion, there is something else that I heard.”
I had no idea. (Hint: When I am on the brink of learning something profound, I normally feel utterly confused.)
“Well,” he countered, ” I would propose that you can never love someone enough to give them all of what they need. We each have the responsibility to get that for ourselves. It is not our job to give our kids everything they need, no matter how much we love them.”
These, indeed, are words of wisdom. I had been holding it as my responsibility to love them enough. I can never love them enough.
I can love them as much as I am able. I can work on their behalf to meet their needs, to help them fill the “gaps” of their early life, to be vigilant in noticing their special needs, and advocating on their behalf. In the end though, and more and more as they grow, it has to be up to them. I have a responsibility to them that I do not take lightly, but they have a responsibility for themselves. These things that they suffered as youngsters, these things that were stumbling blocks will become the building blocks of their future. The most love I can give them is to begin teaching them to look on these things as empowering to their futures.
I do love them and it is enough. And that, my friends, is a big relief. I am breathing again.