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River and Valley

I’m sitting here, watching my kids play in the sandbox in the backyard. They have the hose on and are making rivers and mountains and valleys and streams. Plus a “bakery.” Can’t have mud without a bakery. I watch them a lot lately, closely. They’ve been through much more than I had by that age, and I watch them to see how they are coping. I try to see if there is any way I can help them through this any more than what I’m doing thus far. They don’t need me as often as I would expect, because they have each other.

My kids have a beautiful, unique connection. They fight like maniacs all the time, of course. But each and every time they have to deal with something bigger than themselves, they bond together so closely. Yesterday, they spent the afternoon and evening in a storage closet in our basement, bundled up together in blankets, watching movies and eating snacks while I answered phone calls, reassured neighbors, and filled out a protective order against their dad because of his atrocious behavior earlier that day.  He tried to take them from me without my knowledge or consent. He should not have done that.

They were traumatized, of course, and came to me as soon as they got away from him, but then turned to each other. It makes sense, that they would be there for each other. They had experienced the situation together, and comforted each other. It also makes sense that they would trust each other more than they would trust me. I have failed to protect them before and I failed again. For ten years, I fought so hard to protect them, and failed day after day. I don’t berate myself for it or even necessarily regret what has happened in the past, for it was part of our journey, but it makes sense and is good that they turn to each other. I’m so glad they do. They strengthen and uplift each other. Their personalities are so different that they complement one another. She makes him more courageous; he makes her more calm. He comes up with the ideas, and she fine tunes them to perfection. They teach other patience. They teach each other trust. They teach each other love.

Oh, how I love them. How my heart swells to bursting as I watch them play, bicker, compromise, and play some more. How I hurt, hurt, hurt that they must have their childhood tainted by mental illness and fear, and how frustrated I am that I cannot keep them safe, always safe, forever safe. I can only do my best to teach them that the opposite of fear is love, that their Heavenly Father is the greatest source of safety, and His son, Jesus Christ, is the only way to peace. I will teach them these things to the best of my ability and then watch them as they make their own choices, cope their own way, live their own lives. I know I cannot always keep them safe, and I know that doing so would deprive them of essential life experiences they need to transform into their best versions of themselves. It’s a good thing I cannot always keep them safe, because I would if I could.

At least, fear is not in charge of me anymore. At least I have the courage to protect us to the best of my ability and let God do the rest. At least I do not hate him. I feel determined, resigned, and kind of sad. But not hateful or even afraid. Worry and anxiety and hatred don’t get to have me today.

Today, the sun is shining, the earth is waking up from its winter sleep, and I’m going to go play in the mud with my babies.

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