…about tears on the playground.

To A Mother, From a Mother.

I wish you could see the watery look of my boy’s eyes, the effort that it takes him to swallow his not-yet-mature Adam’s apple as he prepares to speak to me during our bedtime routine.

I wish you could hear the way his voice shivers and shakes, the confused, heavy sighs he shares as he tries to find the words to describe his pain.

I wish you could smell the top of his six-year-old head, a mix of fruity shampoo and sweat and promise, for if you could, you’d swear it was the very elixir of all that is good and true in the world.

I wish you could feel his hand in mine, the tight and sometimes desperate squeeze he offers, a sign of his insides not feeling ready, not feeling adequate, not feeling prepared to face your son today.

I wish for your lips never to taste the salt-laden tears of your son as he cries, no longer fighting the feelings that cut so deeply into the confidence, the kindness, the spirit that God and his Daddy and I have tried so hard to build up, day after day after day.

But most of all, even more than I wish for your boy to just be kind, I wish for your mama heart never to ache like mine does.

I wish for you never to feel utterly irate and compassionate and devastated all in the same breath, all for your child, the boy who carries your heart in his body. I wish for you never to fear the end-of-the-day report, the whispered bedtime admittances, the tears expressed only to you, his tender-hearted mama, not his ever-strong Daddy. I wish for you never to experience swells of pride and of heartache as he walks into school, as he blossoms in the classroom, as he is left out or marginalized, time and again, on the harsh blacktop of the playground by another little boy who used to be his friend and now has positioned himself as his competitor.

And despite my protective instincts – despite my very self – I pray for your son. I pray for his heart to soften, for his competitive spirit to be positively channeled, for the circumstances that have led his life to one that’s motivated by desperation, by ego, and by superiority to fade away in favor of sheer, sweet kindness. And just like I pray for your son, I pray for you. I pray that you find the courage to check in – all the way in – with your son’s day, in spite of your circumstances and your pain and your insecurities. I pray that you shed the blindfold concealing your under-eye bags and your truth and witness the way your child – he’s a child – interacts with others.

But before you think I’m selfless, let me say this: I pray for myself, too, and sometimes, my prayers aren’t tender and kind. Sometimes my ferocity and fear are undeniable and relentless in pursuing my heart, and I wish for unkindness, the absence of gentleness, in order to elicit the goodwill that is so sadly missing at times.

Other times, in the beautiful and God-sanctioned moments when my fear gives way to hope, I ask the Lord for patience, for boundless devotion to teaching and to modeling kindness to my son, and to knowing his six-year-old heart well enough to intervene on his behalf at the right time, in the right way.

My words, my heart, my motherly embrace is all I have to offer my son when your son is unkind or abrasive or downright rude and hurtful. My prayer today is that today, mother to mother, that you will locate and fulfill your motherly obligation to protect a child, even if the aggressor is your own.

Author’s Note: I wrote this after an especially hard day in our oldest boy’s life. Thankfully, these moments have subsided as of late, but the message still rings true for all of the kiddos I see on the ball fields, the playground, in the grocery store, and other places where seemingly innocent teasing can, and does, lead to more. My mama heart aches for all.

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