I Choose You



I ran into a friend from work in the parking lot after a staff meeting.  We work in different departments, so we don’t see each other often, but we have a tradition of hugging each other after these monthly meetings, then going about our business until the next time with the occasional email in between.  It is a little ray of sunshine.

She asked how I had been and without thinking, or editing myself, I offered that I had been stressed lately.  Jack has been going through a particularly persnickety phase, having to do mostly with his adjustment to the rigors of first grade.  We only had a moment to chat before bustling back to our respective buildings and work days.

I felt like a jerk pouring out my heart in a parking lot.  Sometimes I wish I could just smile and say everything is great, but if ya’ ask me how I’m doing, more than likely, I’m going to tell ya’.

The next day, I came into work and found a lovely email from her.  She told me she had worried about me, so she checked out my blog (I mean how else do we find anything out about each other these days, right?) and read a few of my recent posts about my struggles in mommy-land.  She shared with me that when she was a young mom (her children are now grown adults, and she is a grandmother herself) she struggled with many themes similar to mine.

She resonated with the post about Jack’s potential past life, and shared her belief that our children chose us, that somehow their little soul comes to grow in and with us for a reason.  She wrote of her grand daughter who died from a rare and vicious cancer at five months old.  The baby, she said, was an old soul, and while everyone wondered why this sadness fell on the family, my friend remained convinced that the baby picked her parents for a reason.

“I’ve told my mother, ‘I chose you,’ and I could tell that it gave her joy to think it,” she wrote to me.  “I like to think that my children chose me.  Somehow, it makes all those years when I didn’t live up to the ideal Mom okay, because they chose me regardless.”

I mused on these thoughts, rolling them over in my head like a pebble in the ocean, until they became my own.  When that pebble came to rest, I was filled with a warmth as though on a sundrenched shore.

Here is what I came up with:

1.  Sometimes honest sharing is good (even in a parking lot), and increases the potential of getting a need met.

2.  Perspective is everything.  It is  a blessing to have friends of all ages, in all phases of life to lend me their views.

3.  In mindfulness, part of the work is recognizing our thoughts and being aware of how they influence our emotions.  As a mom, I have many thoughts that work against me.  When Jack has a tantrum and I think to myself, “This is hopeless!  I don’t know what to do.  I can’t do anything to help and so nothing will ever change,” I feel despair course though every cell of my being.  When I think, “I am a child therapist for goodness sake, and even with all my experience, I am clueless!” I become possessed with deep insecurity and a sense of failure as both a mom and a therapist.

I looked at a picture of Jack on my desk and thought, “You chose me.  There must be some reason that I am your mom.  I can hold you and all your feelings.  I can do this.  We will figure it out and get through it together because you chose me to be your mom.”

The feeling was remarkable.  I felt strong and confident, infinite and open.

Whether or not I can tap these thoughts when I am in the middle of a five-alarm Jack attack remains to be seen.  But I guess if I tell myself that I can use it and do it and be it, then I have a better chance of being successful with it, and keeping my cool in the middle of the chaos (which is the NUMBER ONE rule when dealing with a strong-willed chicklet, by the way).

4.  Accepting my thoughts, feelings, and urges for what they are, as they are is an important step towards self acceptance.  It reminded me of how Pema Chodron speaks about compassion towards the self as being crucial to compassion for the rest of the world.

5.  It is pretty and comforting to think my children chose me, that there is some kind of ripening of karma in the fact that we are together making our way through life as a family.  But I also chose my children when I decided to become a mom.  True, our children come hard wired with some interesting temperaments over which we have less control than we might have thought before bearing children, but when we decide to become parents, we decide to love and nurture whatever karma throws our way.

I have bucked karma on this point many a time.  I’ve questioned why I got Jack– the ornery, intense, picky eater as opposed to a peaceful, kale and quinoa eating yogi.  But at the end of the day, he is the child I am kissing goodnight, see ya’ in the morning light, love ya’, sweet dreams.

We chose each other.

We chose our thoughts.

We chose our happiness.

They are powerful thoughts and I think they will serve me well, thanks to the caring kindness of my friend.

What thoughts do you have that help you get through the day with your child?  Are there any thoughts you have that don’t serve you well?  


15 responses »

  1. I absolutely believe we choose our parents and children before incarnating. You are his mama for a reason (or reasons) and you are damn good at it!

    That conversation happened exactly when it needed to for you!

    • Thank you. Yes, it is sometimes amazing how the universe brings us just what we need, when we need it. My friend’s kindness really helped me to think of things in a whole new light!

  2. I really should stop reading your posts at work, because I tear up and then I have to do distracty-things like shuffle papers around. Because seriously, this was epic. I love it when you said:

    “I looked at a picture of Jack on my desk and thought, “You chose me. There must be some reason that I am your mom. I can hold you and all your feelings. I can do this. We will figure it out and get through it together because you chose me to be your mom.”

    The feeling was remarkable. I felt strong and confident, infinite and open.”

    I sometimes struggle with the chosen-parent idea, though I do believe in re-incarnation, because why on Earth would I choose to be relinquished and have two families to deal with? I wonder, am I trying to get lots of karma chips this go around or was this the hard path for some punishing reason from an easy previous life?

    But as far as my son. Oh man, I feel like he did choose me. That I couldn’t be a mom to anyone but him right now. And maybe, in him choosing me, he’ll teach me how to love another child (who will have also chosen me, too).

    • When you said you had to shuffle papers around and get distracted, I instantly flashed to the scene in Ferris Bueller when the secretary is fielding Mr. Rooney’s calls and is all bumbling around at her desk making funny noises and shuffling paper. . . makes me smile. I can see how you would struggle with the choosing parent thing. I hadn’t thought of it from an adoptee’s point of view. But if you think about it, if you hadn’t been adopted, would you have been in a timeline where you met your hubs and created Potamus? I don’t know, it is kind of weird to think about all that butterfly effect-ish stuff. Anyway, your comment touched my heart and made my day. xoxoxoxoxo.

      OH, and PS, I have a friend that says “you grow another heart when you have a child.” I always took this as figurative, and hadn’t even thought that yeah, logically you are physically GROWING another heart in another person. But anyway, my point is that your love stretches to expanses you can never imagine. It is a logistic nightmare for me having more than one kid, but both of my children have grown huge, huge hearts in me. . . just a thought.

  3. What a perfect time for me to stumble onto your blog. This post is exactly what I needed to hear today.

    I can tell I’m really going to enjoy following your story. thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks for your post! I quite struggle with this idea sometimes because seriously, I then chose a horrible mom (like toxic dangerous horrible, not funny horrible). But well, I miscarried twice before having my daughter and I am totally convinced that in a way, the soul that could not reach us the 1st time went back for my 3rd pregnancy. I cannot really explain it, I just feel it. It helps me through the not-so fun days. I learn to accept that I can be sad or tired, and then let those feeling pass like clouds in the sky. What helps me as well is to remember that the time when you have your children for yourself is very short: my daughter is already going at daycare 3 days/a week but in less than 2 years it will be the kindergarden and she’ll belong more and more to the society. So I try to cherish every good moment and remember that the shitty nights, ongoing colds and other tantrums will pass too… (But well, sometimes I end up crying under the shower nonetheless!)

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