Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reaping What We Sow...

So, there's some stuff going on with Matthew - stuff that worries me, makes me fret and has propelled me into the boys' room long after they've fallen asleep, to sit beside him, watching.

Perhaps it's a phase, a dip, a seasonal malady, but whatever it is, it's making Matthew sad. I worry - in that way of parents, mothers in particular -  that it's something I've done/not done, something I've said/not said, seen/not seen, that has dropped the weight of  the world onto his slight shoulders and brought a melancholy look to his eyes.

I worry. I worry....that whatever this is, is my doing. I think this is every mother's plight, at some point or another. That what we've sown is damaged and that our little people will forever bear the burden of our mistakes.

 I would carry this mother's heartache forever though, if it meant that my son might find his smile.

The flip side:

The boys spent the weekend with my parents, being spoiled and loved beyond measure. Their cheerful recollections of the day's adventures made my heart sing, when I called each evening before bed. I was especially relieved to hear Matthew's happy chatter - such a dramatic change from the sad and weeping boy of last week.

Last week, I worried that the depression that's plagued me for the past few months had caught him in its icy grip. I sat, watching him sleep, thinking, "Oh, please don't let him be an emotional wreck, like his mother!"

And then...

Yesterday, my mum relayed two stories, back to back. She prefaced it, coincidentally, with "Here's a great example of reaping what you sow, Liz! First, a story about you and the second, about Matthew and the things you've passed on to him."

The story, summed up:

Many, many years ago, we had a cottage, where I spent hours traipsing through the forest and brush surrounding it, exploring the overgrown trails, on the lookout for snakes and frogs. Typical, 8-year-old stuff, really.

One day, nearing suppertime,  I appeared at the cottage door with an older man in tow. I was holding his hand and grinning broadly:

"Hi Mum! This is my friend. We met in the woods today. Can he stay for supper?"

My friend, according to my parents, was dishevelled and bedraggled, with yesterday's breakfast still clinging to his long, unkempt beard. He was older, confused and admitted that he "sort of lived" in the trees and bushes beyond the dirt road that ran between my world and his.

He was just as uncomfortable as my parents, but gamely joined us for the day's last meal, while I chattered happily away, oblivious.

I never saw my friend again, but my parents have never forgotten. I cannot remember any of this, which both amuses and horrifies me.  Yesterday, I turned wide eyes to my dad, seeing this funny little tale through new-slightly-horrified-Mama lenses.

"Holy crap, Dad! What if..?"

He nodded gravely. "I know. What do you think we felt, that day, in the days that followed?"

We could only blink at one another, our shared fears, as parents, as child, unspoken between us.

"Your son is just like you, Elizabeth," my mum smiled gently, guiding me back to the here and now. "Like mother, like son."

I barked out a laugh. "Did he haul some poor, unsuspecting fellow out of the bush, too?"

"No, but yesterday, while we waited for Luke and Papa to finish in the grocery store, he helped a man carry his groceries."

"He did?" Pleasure and pride bloomed inside me, tumbled out. "Of course he did!"

"He saw that the man was struggling with his bags and insisted that we help him, so we did. The man, obviously down on his luck and struggling with some sort of speech impediment, was so thankful. We learned his whole life in the few minutes it took to haul his things down the street."

"To his house?"

"No, a friend with a car was meant to be picking him up. He was grateful to us, I think."

"Wow. Go, Matthew!" I grinned at thought of his heart - so open, so good, so...vulnerable.

Naturally, this launched a quick and fierce (but friendly) debate about the dangers of talking to strangers vs. basic human kindness. A struggle, always. A conundrum. A worry. A blessing.

A lesson.

As the conversation wound down and we moved onto other things, I sat for a minute, basking in the warmth of my family, my parents' home, my son's kindness.

Perhaps the seeds I've planted - consciously or not - are taking root, took root long before Matthew was even born. Perhaps I needn't worry so much about the mistakes I make as a parent. Not all the time, anyways.

Perhaps I should focus instead on the awesomeness of being his mother and of bringing into the world a child whose heart compels him to reach out, to give, to help. I am proud to know him, this fire-haired boy.

I am prouder still to call him "son."

And you? How have your kids reaped what you've sown?


  1. How I get this post! It made me tear up. At work, thank you very much. ;)

    People who feel deeply are more prone to depression. That's my unclinical diagnosis. And most of the compassionate and intelligent people I've been blessed to know as an adult at some point have struggled with it. These "facts" scare me too, for my children. Depression is so ugly, so horrific, so bleak. But without caring people, the world becomes so ugly, so horrific, so bleak.

    You're giving M unconditional love. And I know from personal experience that this is the best and sometimes only comfort in dark times.

    Hugs, my friend. You do good work.


    1. Thank you, my friend. "But without caring people, the world becomes ugly, horrific and bleak."

      I love that. Thank you. And for what it's worth, I think you do great work. So there.


  2. That made me cry. And I'd just like to ditto everything the first commenter stated, too.

    1. Made me cry, too. Still does. Always will.

      This kid. He is so....just SO everything. Where would I be without him? Or you, for that matter. I miss you.

  3. Overhearing my nearly 12 year old son, Parker talking to his (Little Big Planet) online friend: "Aww, when did your cat pass away?" Online friend: "_______" Parker: "Aww, well I'm really sorry for your loss..."


    Sometimes it pays to eavesdrop on your children--on the rare occasion; you get to hear just what a good job you did raising them....I am so blessed to have been chosen to be his Mummah...♥ ♥

    (this of course, was copied from my "Facebook" status)--but I thought it was important, for you to hear it again...I've been a mum for almost 21 years. Often there have been times where I've watched them sleep, or play, or just sit silently buried in their own thoughts--and wondered to myself, "Have I done okay? Have I done enough, as a parent?"

    And then these moments come along. And I breath a sigh of relief.

    Therapy is a few years off, yet. ; )

    ps: I loved this entry, Liz...You'll have many more moments like this; however, in the moments that they shine--you'll know, "You've done okay." hugs....

    1. Jen, it's you! Yay! These certainly ARE the moments, aren't they? You've done so well, too, muffin. Glad to know you and having met Parker, I'd say the world is a better place because he's in it.

  4. WOW! I'm at a loss of words. I remember helping someone when I was younger and my mom telling me that I shouldn't talk to strangers> And after that, whenever I saw an adult struggling with something, I would just walk past. I honestly wish that my mom was as amazing and awesome as you Liz.

    1. Your mum was worried, J. That, I get. It's unfortunate that she allowed that worry to overshadow YOUR need to help, but I totally get her fear. On the plus side, you know how you'd do things differently - when it's your turn to parent a child, I reckon you'll remember and things will be different for your child. xo

  5. I see bits of me in all four of our kids. I'm thankful that overall they seem to have picked up more of my tolerable traits than the nasty ones. It's helped a lot to have their Mom's influence in there too. She smooths out most of my rough edges!

    1. Oh, something tells me that you're not ALL rough edges, Larry! Though it's lovely to see that you credit your wife for her/their awesomeness! :)

  6. What a beautiful post! And such a beautiful picture of you.

    I see good and bad things in my kids everyday that I recognize as pieces of myself or my husband! As a parent I really try to mark my words carefully. Little ears never miss a thing!

    1. Ain't that the truth - these litte pitchers really DO have big ears, don't they? Thanks for seeing beauty, Annie - I've missed you!

  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and words. I agree with the first reply here. And I will remind myself more that I will reap what I sow. Thanks...

    1. Thank you, Anon! Agreeing with Ironic Mom is always a good thing, around here! Glad to have offered a gentle reminder - as parents, it's something we all - especially I - need every now and again, right?

  8. Omigosh Liz! Why didn't my comment make it here! I posted the day that this went up! *throwing things at my computer* Well, I think I said something like: "Apples don't fall from pear trees," and you should be proud, Momma. And now I'm going to push the button and be sad that my face doesn't show up. I don't understand.

    But seriously, I really did comment. I can't believe you brought home a total stranger, and I think it's AMAZING that your parents let him stay for dinner! That speaks volumes. And you are the product of those people. You are surprised that your Red has a heart of gold?

    The Yiddish word to describe this kind of behavior is menschy. The world is short on mensches right now.

  9. Menschy. Mmm, what a delicious word. I dig it. Thank you, Mama Ren! I *did* read that comment then, in my inbox. I came here to comment and couldn't find it, thought I'd imagined things. Blogger is so weird. Thank you for coming back and saying all these lovely things

    Honestly, I think my parents were too shell-shocked to do much else, plus they were likely trying to suss him out a bit, (read: have you harmed/will you harm our child in any way, shape or form?)

    Oh, and for the record, I consider it my humanly duty to bring strangers home for dinner. I still do it. In fact, there have been many times that I've decided that my marriage remains intact because my husband's just sticking around to see what happens next.