If the floor wasn’t a constant lego battle zone and the room was big enough for us to have regular chats, then I might have taken more time to step into his world. He use to invite me in on occasion. To see his creations and to show me the solar system display on his wall.
He is a dreamer, this boy.
My other sons had one other growing up. Different in almost every way, but they had one another.
And this boy? Well, he has all of us girls, and his best friend, his dog. And his legos.
But, he loves his dad. With an all encompassing, sacrificial, deep down love.
And I love this.
Many days he would run along the wooded edge to wave goodbye as his dad drove the truck down our country road. He would wave until my builder was out of sight and would trudge his boots into the house, kicking them off with resolve to be at the end of the drive when his dad returned.
He repeats everything. “I love you dad. You’re my buddy dad.”
And the builder always answers, with long suffering love, patience and a smile.
“I love you too buddy.”
Every single day.
And when Christmas rolled in from the depths of a very long year, we purposed to focus on the hearts and unwrapping the very best gift ever. Love.
But the under current was strong in weeks leading up to the opening of gifts for this boy and I. I could feel his pull and resistance to listen or obey and his heart was in turmoil about something.
It was breaking my heart, but there was a wall there.
My boy bought one gift with his money this year.
He had $20 to his name, with which he bought one gift. A set of black socks for his dad. And this was the only gift he wrapped with a lot of tape, and wrote with a permanent black marker. I love you dad.
There was no room in his heart for any one else. And this too… was a lie that I could have easily believed.
When two hearts sync, it is easier to let things be. I could have allowed myself to believe this.
I was learning the love this child needed. He just wanted me present. To be there. No fanfare, or special treatment.
That child. The one that you have to work to talk to. That saves all of their money to spend on one person in the home for Christmas.
It isn’t their love that you don’t have, it is their attention.
Shouldn’t all mothers sync well with their children? Children need their mom’s. Right?
And when I finally realize there is a problem. A little wall has been erected between that child and myself. Will I add another layer of bricks to it? Tear it down with anger?
That wall? It is there for a reason, and it is my job to walk around it.
I don’t need to plow through it, or tear it down. And I am not willing to ignore it.
It was late and I could here soft cries from upstairs. They were muffled and hidden, on purpose.
But, a mother cannot ignore the cries of her child, even when they are trying to hide.
That point of exhaustion, where it would have been easy to say good night and hope you sleep well, wasn’t even an option.
Do I dare make the trek across the lego battlefield in my barefeet?
Would it be worth it? Were the tears coming from the huddled form under his fleece throw?
The tears were real and they broke my heart into two.
Sitting on the edge of the bed was a victory. He didn’t tell me to leave. So, I was staying.
I began to rub his hair away from his forehead, and speak in low, hushed tones about his solar system.
One word replies and the tears were still there.
I asked him if he minded if I stayed.
“It’s okay.” All boy. But, he didn’t ask me to stop.
And in the minutes that follow, my heart breaks into two.
Because, when was the last time I stepped into his world? To see what he lives every day. To experience or talk about what is heavy on his heart.
We talked about his inventions, and his future. His walls are covered in drawings, and posters of birds. All kinds of birds and their habitats.
And then in one little corner of the room, was his flashlight.
I turned it on and let it illumine the details that I miss in my little boy every day. Deep eyes. Wondering who to talk to, who to trust, and who to cry to.
I had lost touch with this boy. Who he was, what he needed and where he was coming from.
All of the conflict had become about how hard it was for me to work with him, or deal with him.
The tears are gone now. His eyes are sleepy and he is breathing with such peace.
I could feel his joy.
And I whisper, I love you.
“I love you too mom. You’re my buddy.”
This had been mine all along. Love looks different at every corner, but in the end, it will show you the way.
It wasn’t even about me. Such a lofty wall it could have been if I had added my own height and pompous to it.
Motherhood is a lifetime of learning and sacrifice. The gift that never stops giving.
My very best Christmas gift this year? The walls came tumbling down.
It’s hard to love when you don’t always feel it in return. But, it is so worth it.
Have you been on the other side of the wall?