She sees a family. She sees a family with Mom, Dad, her brother, and herself. She sees the family that I had dreamed would always surround her, but has since taken a different shape.
She was in creative mode spilling her soul into a new masterpiece when she asked me how to spell family. F? Yes, F. A? Yes, A. M?...what’s an M again…up down up down? Yes. Shortly after, her work was complete.
She pranced up to me beaming as she held the picture in the hands of her outstretched arms for me to see. She proudly shared that it was her family. “It’s Daddy, Mommy, brother and me!”
I was immediately hit with the ‘feelings flash flood’ that has become quite familiar to me over the past year of life as I process things through an entirely new lens. My initial response while looking at the picture, as my thoughts darted from place to place, was…'my heart is breaking—this is what she should have…this is what her life should have been..why is this not her life…’
My eyes began to sting as the tears pooled, my nose began to tickle, and my throat to tighten. As I’m sure many can relate, you briefly consider jumping on that default ever-lurking mental and emotional hamster wheel that likes to throw you back to day one—to exhaust every single experience, regret, heartache, loss, and fear that lead you to this point, along with every unnecessarily anxious anticipation of your future through at least the age of 95. After what is most likely seconds, but feels like hours, you have to jump off the wheel. You arrive at the spot where you must choose grounding, and clarity, and reassurance that the formula is indeed ‘one day at a time’ and that someone may have a bigger plan.
That hamster wheel also houses the many thoughts that keep a single parent up at night—do they feel enough love, do they feel slighted or betrayed, do they see themselves differently now, do they feel an unidentifiable absence…will they be ok?
After a secretive, deep, balancing breath, and after praising her for her beautiful work, I chose a different perspective. I chose to see her drawing as a really healthy thing. I was not going to define it as loss. I chose to recognize that despite what I have had to learn to reprogram in my own heart and mind about what family looks like, family to her is still essentially in tact. Whether or not others may come into the picture and, as I instinctually perceive, threaten my bond with my children, the time that I have with them, or my confidence in being the best mom they could ever have—she still sees us as her core. She feels connection and security. She feels support. She feels love.
She sees a family.