I have seen a lot of deer since arriving in Montana. Everyone keeps telling me that it is impossible not to hit one. This conjures up a horrific image in my mind. I pray every time I get in the car that I do not hit one.
So far, they have been roadside attractions, them safely to one side, me slowing down to take them in and ensure that there are no others seeking safe passage to the other side of the road. So far so good.
The thought of injuring or killing one makes my stomach lurch and buckle. Please God, please do not let me be someone who crashes into one. Or even witness someone else doing that.
I have this major protective instinct. It is mostly activated with animals and children. It also extends to adults which is a newer thing for me. I guess I feel very protective over anyone who is vulnerable. This is to include people whose vulnerabilities present in strange ways. Bullies, angry people, people who are judgy and mean. I used to give them back what they gave me, but now I just feel so badly for them that they are in the awful state they are in. Why would I ever join their foul mood?
Which brings me to today...today my children are going to see each other for the first time in four months. My son’s behavior has wreaked havoc on our family but most especially on my daughter. She has refused to talk to him, write him or see him. Today, that changes. She has agreed to spend the day with him and I am in charge of leading this visit.
Let me start off by saying that I do not feel competent. I feel like I am out of my depth and I am terrified that I will do a poor job. That feels like such a relief to admit. So often as mother I feel like I am supposed to know shit that I just don’t. It isn’t because I haven’t tried to learn it or even command it, it is just elusive and beyond my grasp, well, that is how it feels.
I can keep them both physically safe...I think. I do worry about hitting a deer on our trek around Montana. But other than that, I feel like I am mostly qualified for the task.
But providing emotional safety for both of them has always been a very hard task. They both seem to need the polar opposite of each other. This is a life long struggle and I have felt caught in the middle for a very long time. I love them both with such ferocity that I feel almost impotent when I find myself actually in the middle. But impotence is not what I need today. Today I need next level mothering. Today I need to be cool and chill. Today I need to lead by example with my own anxiety in check. Pray for me.
And that leads me to how I feel today. I feel like a mother deer being asked to navigate the crossing and recrossing of Montana highways, both my babies in tow. Our journey will be one with a lot of darting and running at high speeds across roads that are traveled by speeding cars. I might not see the one that does us in until way too late.
I want so desperately to just stay on one side of the road, lie in a thicket and do nothing all day. But that is not life, life is not stationary and safe. Life is a series of dangerous forays into new frontiers. And today will be just like that.
I guess I have to allow myself to feel a security that I do not really possess. To lead by example when I haven’t always done a stellar job at that. To trust that I can and will provide my children safe passage today: physically, mentally and spiritually. I pray that I am up for this massive task. I have no real plan other than to ensure that my own emotional needs are met, that I have not had too much caffeine. That I am not overly tired. That I have eaten and stay well caloried so that I do not emotionally fall out due to low blood sugar.
I can be easy going, light, not make such a big deal, not try to fill every silence. My job is not to gap fill, because I know that I myself have found some pretty amazing things in the gaps. I guess my job today is to love. To love with all that I am the two most important people in my life. To show them both that I love them and am trying to lead them away from danger and toward a life well lived. It won’t be long now before my own little deer are navigating highway crossings on their own, and I have a little time left to impart what I have learned this far in my own life. I pray they listen. I pray they get what they need from me. I pray that I have sufficiently dealt with my own stuff so that I can just be a transmitter of love to both equally and in a form they can feel and hear and see and trust.
I am sure today will be filled with lots of sideways glances and unspoken thoughts that are only communicated through body language and breaths held and expelled. I pray that I am able to keep my own self in check so that I can better show up for them today. Today, I just want to frolic and love and enjoy. I do not want to spend the day bounding across freeways and highways to all our peril. Can’t I just leave those for another day? Perhaps...But the day will bring what it is supposed to. And I just need to stay flexible, my own expectations and needs in check so that I may be of service to my own not so tiny deer. Because at the end of it all, I just want them to go forward in their lives, safe, loved and protected. I want them to grow up to be parents themselves. To love and parent and endure all the most amazing things I have survived and loved in parenting them.
As my teens grow into adults, I find myself more and more in awe of the journey that I myself traveled but now get to revisit from the parenting side. It is amazing how much work it is over here. I had no idea. I had no idea how hard it is to let go. To keep your mouth shut. To set and hold boundaries. Parenting teens is very, very hard work. Such a fine line between holding on and letting go...never being exactly sure what you are doing is what is best for them or you. It really does feel like darting across country roads with speeding cars aiming for your hindquarter.
But all I can do is that which I started off this blog, pray. Pray that I am enough in my current form to continue to navigate the path for my children to safety. And I will endeavor to do that today as we also attempt to avoid hitting the rutting deer that seem to be everywhere. Please God, grant us all safe passage today...for all my dear ones.