When I was little I tried desperately to not be noticed because if I was noticed I might get in trouble, or even worse I might get pointed out as an example of how to be the “perfect” child making me an enemy to all. So I made a career out of being invisible thinking this would bring me happiness, or at least peace. As I hit the wonderful adolescent years the normal fear of looking like an idiot was added to my list of pros to being invisible. Part of being invisible was the ability to morph into what ever the current circumstance called for, like a professional chameleon I proceeded into marriage. Nine months into our marriage I found out I was pregnant, very much a surprise. Through pregnancy I tried desperately to figure out what I was supposed to morph into now and none of my friends were having kids yet so I was alone. My sister-in-law had a toddler and got pregnant three months after me with her second. She’s always been the picture perfect mom, loves pregnancy and everything thing that goes with it. I didn’t feel that way and didn’t know what to do so I began to flounder. I was 20 years old and started feeling like I was loosing control.
As I have stated before this was a critical time in my marriage as well, my husband was unknowingly laying the ground work for me to realize that his love for me was unconditional. I carried on through pregnancy feeling lost and alone because I knew from watching my sister-in-law that my feelings weren’t “normal” and was embarrassed by them. On December 28th my little surprise package was delivered and I got to hold my beautiful baby boy, Justice, in my arms. I remember they laid him on my stomach I watched him whimpering and was unsure of what I was supposed to do. The nurse finally said, “you know you can hold him?” Right, that’s what a mom is supposed to do hold and snuggle her baby. I lifted him up and held him against my chest and he instantly settled and fell asleep. I was transfixed. Completely unaware of everything else going on and trying to figure out what I was feeling. I don’t know how much time passed before my husband tapped my shoulder. I will never forget the words that came out of his mouth, “Can I please hold my son?” When you constantly are changing your reality to fit what you think others want some times reality is hard to grasp. I had spent so much time focused on my marriage during my pregnancy and the way I was supposed to be feeling that I hadn’t actually spent anytime processing the fact that we were going to be parents. I know that sounds bizarre but it’s where I was. The day after we brought him home from the hospital Daniel got up with him in the morning so I could go back to sleep and try to get some rest. I couldn’t fall back to sleep so I got up and started to go downstairs. I heard Daniel talking and slowed my pace to try to figure out who he was talking to. As I crept down the stairs the image that I saw is forever frozen in my mind. He was sitting in the rocker basking in the sunshine that was streaming through the window with Justice in his arms wrapped in a blanket. He was completely engrossed in his conversation with our sleeping son. He was telling him about everything he was going to teach him and everything they would do together. My heart melted. Then something strange happened, I became extremely jealous. Those motherly feelings still hadn’t appeared for me and here was my husband already in full daddy mode and loving every minute of it. Justice had been struggling with nursing and I felt like it was because I wasn’t a good mom. My fears of being a failure as a mom were already becoming reality. And yet my husband was already in the runnings for father of the year. I felt broken.
For the first couple of months I struggled with what I later came to realize was postpartum depression. The warm fuzzy feelings were no where to be found. People would go to hand my son back to “his mom” and I felt like I was playing house. There was no sentiment involved with the word mom. I would cry in the middle of the night as I fed him because I wanted to feel that connection with my child but didn’t. Then during the day I’d plaster the smile on and pretend everything was amazing. I was afraid all those years of silencing my emotions and trying to be unseen had damaged me to the point where I couldn’t truly feel or give love. Then something crazy happened. I had him laying on the changing table and the song “How Did You Get To Me” came on and I started singing and dancing and just being goofy. He laid there and watched me and started smiling and giggling. I felt these words whispered as I watched him “he loves you for you, not what you can do for him or who you were but who you are.” At that moment God broke the barrier and I felt love. I picked my son up and held him to me and started crying tears of joy. The depression was gone and I realized I could be healed.
God has used my son as an intricate part of my learning to be visible. I realized that to be loved and to love you have to be transparent. The anonymity I had so desperately been trying to obtain to protect myself was doing more damage then good. As I sit here I’m struggling again with feelings of loneliness. We’ve moved away from everyone and my son stayed behind. Even though we are making new friends it takes years for them to get to “know” me. I still struggle with hiding behind masks and letting people see the real me so that slows the process down. I’m trying but it’s scary and exhausting.
My husband and daughter know me but they process life very differently than my son and I do. I miss having my son here. I miss having some one who knows what I’m feeling without having to use words and knows how to respond with out me having to tell them. You see not only did God give me my son to help me start healing and being able to feel love but he gave me a best friend who experiences life in a very similar fashion. My “surprise” gift has continued to surprise and bless me my whole life. He’s brought me some of my greatest joys and greatest heartaches. I’ve realized I’ve been lazy and used my son as a crutch and now I need to learn how to communicate better how I’m feeling and what I need to my husband. It’s so hard to try to decipher my feelings and then figure out what I need from those around me. I feel like as a mom I have gained more from my son than he has from me and I’m so blessed that God knows what He’s doing. In the moment I thought God had messed up by giving me a child because I was sure I was going to be a horrible mom and do irreversible damage to him. The jury is still out on that but I can say that God used my son in my life to show me another aspect of His love for us. The love that a parent has for a child. The ability to be seen and loved. The ability to not let our past define who loves us.