Wednesday, May 23, 2012

mothering and the importance of hearing, friends, and the odd cupcake

The good news, my friend's son who went missing for 5 days after consuming 1beer the day after he came home from rehab was found. Was found unresponsive, barely breathing in a dangerous part Chicago after what would appear to be a heroin binge. This is good news, because he is found, and he is not dead. He is not well either. There is damage to several organs, pneumonia and serious cognizant defects. He remembers coming home from rehab, going to a movie with his girlfriend, and then he woke up in the hospital. He does remember drinking the beer, the conflict with his parents, where he's been, who's he's been with, or what he's been doing. Five days of his life are gone. He is going through heroin withdrawal and doesn't have the capacity to understand why or how this could have happened to him.

His mom and I talked on the phone, rather she talked and I mostly listened. What else do you do then provide a safe place for someone to voice the fears and sadness that they cannot openly share? Sometimes simply to be heard without judgement is the greatest gift you can give another person; to say I hear you, I understand, I am here for you.

 “But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

We are mothers of chronically ill children, and yet we cannot openly ask for comfort (for my full rant on this see my "what? no lasagna?" blog). We could be judged, seen as bad mothers, because where else do addicts come from? There are no cards for children in Rehab, no balloons, no catchy ribbon shaped magnetic bumper stickers, no one shaving their heads for addiction awareness, I could go on, obviously.

Society has judged us as bad mothers. This judgement comes from fear, fear for themselves, their own children and the ability for them to escape suffering.

The irony is, we mothers are the ones who carry our children, our families through these difficult times. We bear the brunt of the anger, hurt, and pain our children suffer.

We also carry, and are carried by each other.

We have our meeting tonight, and I feel extra useless, so I will bring food, because that's what I do when someone is hurting and I can't think what else to do, I feed people. Perhaps it's the act of feeding people that give me a tangible feeling that I am helping, whether it's at the homeless shelter kitchen, or a bag of cookies for a friend. They say you shouldn't use food as a coping mechanism, and I agree, somewhat, but I remember the person who brought me cookies and books when my son was in residential rehab, and how loved that made me feel. I remember the tea with milk someone brought to me as I was sitting up all night with my hospitalized child. So tonight I bring cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla bean (Trader Joe's, I was a little rushed, and to be honest they make better cupcakes than I do). People were thrilled, it felt nice.

It's amazing how sharing a little bit of cake and icing can bring smiles to tired faces, can provide a conversational starter when no one knows how to start talking.

We also listen to each other, or, more accurately, we hear each other. Tonight it's all mothers, which is usually the case. Men can be physically stronger which can be handy for moving furniture and tree branches, but it's women, mothers in this case, who are stronger, for their family, their children, and for each other. After a night full of worry, of drama and of little sleep, mothers get up and do again what is necessary to feed and care for the children. I don't mean to belittle fathers, but in my experience, it's mothers that do what needs to be done. It's mothers that hold families together, manage doctors, therapists, meetings, teachers, social workers and wait up for their children to arrive home safely. Mothers who wait up even when their children don't return home, mothers who are the ones to lock the door and leave a backpack, pillow and blanket out for an intoxicated child, and mothers who stand firm for the sake of their child outside and their children inside. Mothers who go to hospitals after phone calls from the police.

This gets heavy, we carry on, very often forgetting to take care of ourselves.

That's where we need each other. I once, in a moment of less than Zen like parenting told my, at the time, belligerent son that I was the one who held our family together, and that my mental health was in all of our best interests, and that he might consider giving me just the tiniest bit of a break. Like I said, it was not my best parenting, but it was true. He did give me a break, slightly bigger than tiny, and it's in these moments where my son and I actually hear each other, that give me hope.

A little hope, a little help from my friends, and the odd cupcake just might see us though this, at least for today.

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