A few years ago Sara Barielles released a song called “I Choose You” and it’s a beautiful love song. And a community of adoptive parents heard it in a way that the rest of us didn’t.
I’ve never listened to love songs the same way because of this. I challenge all of you. Try it.
When my babes were small I got a chance to love in a way that I had always wanted, but was never able to. With wild abandon. Love off the charts. And I was free to feel that way. It wasn’t weird. I was in heaven. I could finally breathe. This is what I always wanted. I would wake and see their faces and feel gratitude and love and luck. “I get to be the other half of you. Tell the world we finally got it all right.” And they would wake up and look at me like they had won the life lottery. These little people felt joy at seeing me. ME. They cared nothing about my breath or my hair. They cupped my face with their tiny starfish hands and would say “mama. love you.”
In the dead of night. In the morning. In the afternoon. And they were so innocent and had nothing to lose and they loved me unabashedly.
Jesus. Who gave them permission? To love me without reservation? And worst yet? I realized my own mother felt this way about me at one point. How dare I try and self talk myself ever into the lies of never being loved. My mother looked at me this way once (many times.) And these babies. I loved them so hard. I would fight all the dragons. I would protect them all the times. Love is real.
I had never felt so alive.
And I’ve never yelled so much. I wasn’t at all the person I thought I would be.
I was the mother who yelled. I also threw things. Broke things. I “flew off the handle.” I painted murals. I sewed sock monkeys. I read in classrooms. I was a Girl Scout Leader. I did so many things right. I did so many things wrong. I thought they would be Little, always.
That was a while ago. The days pass and it’s becoming an actual while ago.
In the last 10 years I’ve tried to find myself again. I hated that I was the mom that yelled and yet now I have a new perspective. Because now I’m a person who would love to feel something again. I haven’t loved unabashedly because I don’t know where to let that love land. Those kids are people who are going to have their own lives. I know that a generation of people will be reading this and saying “yeah. of course.” I see you. And it’s still really hard to let it happen.
When you have Littles in your house you love them greater than at any other time. Your love and emotions are so big, so raw, all the time.
You would lay down your body for them and you often do.
It also means that all of the emotions are closer to the surface. You’re angry more. You’re dissatisfied more. You yell more.
As your Littles get older they are indoctrinated into every day life, and you are too. Your emotions don’t run quite as hot. You yell less because you let go more and you feel less. They have to figure it out. And you have to let them. You have to let them. Because you are still parenting. And they have to be okay in the world without you.
And that’s OK actually. You need to feel that way for that time.
But it also means that right now, while you have Littles, you may find yourself doing things that you never thought you would do. Like yelling. Or throwing things across the room. And it’s true, you would never normally do this. But you are not your normal self. You’re in a time where you would protect the loves of your life. And that emotion is rich and scary.
And this is a post for the grown ups who are trying to figure things out. Stop trying. Love so hard. Feel so much. You don’t even have to explain it. Just live it. Those babies that are figuring out how to walk don’t stop to apologize. They fall down. They laugh. They cry. And they do it again.
We can too. We have to.