My first major disillusionment came on the second day of Kindergarten. We had done a couple of papers in class, and I had been disappointed with less than perfect scores. (Virgo much?) But I’d finally gotten one with 100%! My first perfect paper. Absolutely giddy, I couldn’t wait to get home to show it to my mom.
Except somewhere between school and home, I realized, I couldn’t find the paper–I lost it. Oh no! I’d wanted to keep it forever! I’d wanted to show everybody and display it on the refrigerator, for God’s sakes. That’s what you do with perfection.
Sobbing and utterly devastated at my misfortune, I did what I always did whenever I had a problem I didn’t know how to fix: I asked Mom. She tried to comfort me, sure, and said maybe I’d find it later (I didn’t). But when push came to shove, she did not produce a miracle for retrieving the lost paper.
What?! Uh oh. Mom wasn’t magic. There were some things she could not do. And one of them was bring my paper back.
I don’t care if you think I was dense; I had cause. Up to that point, she’d had a perfect record. What was I supposed to think?I had empirical evidence, damn it! My world shifted as I had to make room in it for her imperfection as well as my own.
Hell. If she had her flaws, who was going to make sure nothing ever went wrong?!
Yeah. I know. You can laugh at me now if you want, but I’ll just mutter something about Karma if you do.
That shift was nothing, though, compared to being on the Momma side of the fence. The first time you see your child hurting–really hurting, not just lost-paper hurting, but the real, life-can-suck-and-I-hope-to-Hell-they-get-over-it-hurting–and you cannot fix, erase it, or make it all go away…well, there are just barely words, you know? A weight on your chest, sheer heaviness. It calls to a primal place, deep down in the belly of your soul.
Which would be bad enough, but it’s impossible to be a mother without the failure to protect your child from pain. I don’t care how good you are. You can help them dodge a lot of bullets but not every one. So this is a guaranteed visit for every mother, no passing go.
You cannot live and love and be a fully present human being without loss. It’s as predictable as breathing. Some do amazing things with the skills build through pain, developing compassion, insight, or appreciation. Others get edgey and hard, and nobody can decide for you which you’ll be. The hard stuff chisels us. But it’s all part of the whole. So we work with the marble we’ve got.
But you know, even if you can’t prevent pain, love sure smooths out a lot of the rough edges. And that’s something Momma can always do. Nobody can love you better than your Momma. It’s her true superpower!
Do you believe in Momma Superpowers?