I don't know what went through her head at that moment, but it was like a knife to my heart. I'm sitting in the front seat of the minivan thinking, 'oh, I wish he wouldn't have said that. How do I get him out of this particular section of conversation?" It's painful. It's painful for her. It's painful for me.
I've been finding such joy in my children lately in spite of the end-of-the-year crazies which have now set in, but every moment I take pleasure in just who they are comes at with a little pang. My joy is at the expense of another's pain. There's no way around that truth. Inevitability and safety concerns and all of that aside, our family came to be because another family was broken. So our family is broken too. The older I get, the more I find myself more willing to sit in the tension of messiness like that. It's ok if we're broken. I don't have to fix it. I don't have to fix it for myself, and as much as I want to, I can't fix it for my children either. They might have to learn this lesson younger than I'd prefer, but learn it they must.
Later that week, I logged on to facebook to find a message that I was sent on Mother's Day from one of my children's moms. Sent after that painfully awkward phone conversation. It was one of those Hallmark-y memes with the sappy words and pictures of roses along with a personal wish for a Happy Mother's Day. Followed by a thank you. Thank you for being such a good mom to my kids. This from the woman who gave birth to our children. The one who doesn't get to spend these holidays with them anymore. That's pain I can't imagine, and yet she thanks me, their everyday mama. There is no mother's day wish that I have ever received that meant more to me than this one this year. To be validated by the woman who loved and parented my kids first? To have her think that I'm doing a good job? We're partners of sorts, she and I. Untraditional, sure, and right now it looks more like a relay than a side-by-side partnership, but our mamas' hearts are knit together for we love the same children with everything we have. I want her to like me. I want her to think I'm doing a good job. I long for her approval. I want to honor her with how I care for our children. I want to build a strong foundation for redemption. Redemption is coming. I believe it will be so. These dry bones of broken families will come alive, by the very breath of God. He has spoken, and He will do it. (Ezekiel 37)
This might be a resurrection song long delayed, but it is one I plan yet to sing.
photo credit: Noelridge Tamron_033 via photopin (license)