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Challenge: Stretched Too Thin

The Tired Eyes of a Mother

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https://eleanorhoward.com/f/the-tired-eyes-of-a-mother

These eyes are tired.

Do you see your reflection in them? I ask this rhetorically because you probably recognize the worry, the stress. You see it in your own eyes while you brush your teeth or when you catch a glimpse of your eyes in the mirror as you back out of your driveway. You’ve noticed tired eyes like mine in your own.

I don’t know about you, but even if I sleep, my rest isn’t restful. I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed. Ugh, those commercials showing a woman bathed in sunlight arising from the bed stretching her arms above her head – and smiling. Actually smiling when she wakes up. I can’t. I stare at the fan as it makes circles above me and count the rotations. It’s a temporary distraction from my worry and stress. My brain never sleeps anymore. Not really.

Oh what I would give for the exhaustion of walking a baby up and down the hallway in the middle of the night. Half whispering, half singing, ‘you are my sunshine, my only sunshine.’ Instead of spending the night doing absolutely nothing except praying for the safety of my teenagers. When I say ‘nothing except praying’ I only mean that I can’t *DO* anything like soothe a fussy baby by walking up and down the hall. It’s God’s will. It’s my teenagers free will. There’s no amount of singing and whispering and shushing that’s going to make it better.

By this time in my parenting career, I’m facing the test of whether or not I’ve said the right thing, set the best example or raised them with deep roots and strong wings. I feel the whoosh of them trying out those new wings as they leave the house and it’s almost cruel that I can still see the soft down, the protective coating given to them at birth, just beneath those new wings. I see those delicate feathers when they giggle like they used to or say mama in just a particular way. I can’t help but cling to the image of that soft vulnerability of a juvenile’s wing, but knowing I must let go. It reminds me that I’ll love them forever because I feel like I’ve been loving them since I had feathery down too.

With teenagers, you remember your own mistakes. Your own near misses. Your own experiences that changed you – sometimes for the good, but more often than not, left a scar. Sure, time fades it and love heals but when you have kids the wound snags open and warns you of all the things -- all the many things that can go wrong. Time tricks you into forgetting, until you have teenagers. You discover things about you that never really healed – resurfaces, as your heart – going about its business walking around outside of you, reminds you can do nothing to prevent the pain your teenager will feel. They will get hurt. They will get bruised and there is absolutely zero you can do about it.

You are my sunshine. My only sunshine.

But here’s what I am going to do. I’m going to try very hard to stay soft. Stay available. Stay where they can find me and be a soft place to land. A place where they can rest their wings and find comfort and safety in the nest of home.

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