A Story About Marbles and Deep Breaths and the Love We're Born With
Ah, if we could only love like children do....
Lia, our 7 year old, has these marbles she carries with her quite a bit (Side note: before I get to the point, I think it's pretty funny hearing her run around saying she's lost her marbles and has anyone seen them when she can't find them). They either came from a random spot at my parent's house, or she found them in a random geocache somewhere. Doesn't really matter. All that matters is they are special to her.
Lia, more than either of our other 2 kids, is a feeler. She has the biggest heart of any kid I've ever met. She's also extremely passionate. She soaks up the energy from all of us, feeds off of it. If there's sadness or anger in the air, she'll feel it. If she's surrounded by love and happiness, she feels that, too. She's so young, she doesn't quite know how to handle all the emotions coming her way. I've been working with her on meditation, and how conscious, deep breaths can put the fires out when we're upset and calm us down. She's pretty reluctant to do the breathing, as she's normally caught up in the moment, but with patience, we get there. Max and Ava, on the other hand, are the quiet types. They're not as open about their feelings as Lia is, which isn't bad, just different.
This is where the marbles come into play. I'm pretty open about the state of affairs in our house. It's been a rough go as we all try and love each other well through all the hardships and challenges we're currently facing as a family. We're trying to meet Jenny where she is and offer our love and support through all of the grief and trauma she's battling. But it's hard. Really hard. Especially for our kids who've been wrapped in nothing but love their whole lives. I can't imagine what it must be like to watch their mom go through all of this.
Which brings me to Monday evening. Mom is on the ground crying. I'm telling her all the things she does so well for us, yet again. You see, Jenny doesn't think she's a good mom. She feels she's failing as a wife. She tells me all the time she doesn't deserve the love she receives...that she's a failure and letting everyone down. While I don't agree with any of those negative statements, Jenny believes them, and that's where the kids come in...
Max, our sweet 11 year old, struggles to find the words to say when he sees his mom hurting and crying. But he knows his hugs make a difference. So he comes in to just wrap his arms around his mother. He doesn't say anything, but he does keep his arms wrapped around her as tight as he can and snuggles his head right into hers.
Lia then comes in, carrying her marbles. "Mom, when I'm upset, I hold these marbles in my hands and do my breathing. It always calms me down. I want you to have them." Lia gets so sad seeing her mom like this. She wanted to give Jenny her special marbles and teach her the things she does when she gets upset. She followed it up with a snuggle as well before "fart bombing" me and leaving the room.
Ava came in and proceeded to keep saying to Jenny, over and over and over in her baby voice, "You're the best mommy ever. You're the best mommy ever. I love my mommy."
I didn't ask the kids to come in and love her like that. They knew mom was hurting and wanted to let her know they loved her. The thing about kids and love is this. They're born with a whole bunch of love in their hearts. They learn how to express that love from their parents and the way the people in their world treat them. If they're surrounded by encouragement and support and love and asked to dream big...the natural love they're born with will grow and they'll have the confidence to spread that love where they see fit. If they're told they're not good enough, ignored, abused, the love they're born with will be locked away deep inside in the only place where it's safe. And when that happens, it takes an awful long time to re-program the brain to think otherwise.
Jenny held on tight to those marbles. I asked her how she could be a bad mom if her kids willingly came up to love on her like that. Our kids learned to love from their mom and I. They learned from my parents, Papa + EE. They learned from all the amazing families we've had the pleasure of going on adventures with. Our kids don't know it yet, but they're pretty darn lucky.
Now this wasn't the first time I've seen this situation play out, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last. Jenny's fighting a war inside herself. I have faith the more we pull through for her and show her she's ok...that every time she feels like she's messed up, we'll meet her with grace and love...that she's not letting us down...that she's not failing...that she's worth every ounce of love we pour into her...I know, without a doubt, love is what will ultimately help Jenny see the beautiful soul she is.
I don't know how long it'll be until this situation comes to a close, but I do know this. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I can see it. As long as Jenny holds on to those marbles, she can't possibly resist love forever. With such an innocent and beautiful love from her kids, how could she?
I share this story because I know there are moments in all our lives where we hurt...where we give in to the negativity...where we believe crap about ourselves that's just flat out not true. I don't know where you are on your journey. Maybe you're out of the tunnel and in the light, or maybe you aren't. Maybe you're halfway up the mountain, and you can see the summit but you just don't know how much longer it'll be before you're at the top. Wherever you are on your life's journey, I hope you know this...if you're struggling, if you're angry and frustrated. If you're battling depression or grieving or hurting in any way, know you're not alone. Know your life isn't perfect, and might not ever be, but that's ok. It's ok because you're still alive. You're alive and you're breathing...and sometimes that's all you got. And that's ok. You're alive and you matter. You're alive and there are people who love you so so SO much. You're alive and at some point there will be a tiny moment in your day today that's just so beautiful. Pay attention to that moment. Hold onto it. It might come in the form of a hug or a smile. It might come in the form of a text message or maybe you'll catch a beautiful sunset. Or it might come in the form of a little blue marble from a 7 year old asking you to take deep breaths and hugging you as tight as they can. Just hold on. Keep holding on...