I had to wait to write this until just now, because if I had tried to write it any sooner, I would have been a sobbing, hysterical mess. I would have just dissolved all over my keyboard and grand, ugly fashion. I mean, I was already on the verge of that, so it was best to avoid the topic all together.
Here's the thing. Last night Madeleine had a bad episode, the worst I've seen in a long time. Things were terrible. I don't want to get into the details, but I want to write this here, as a reminder to myself: be stronger next time.
I am writing that without self-judgment. I am human, I cry, and when my daughter, the little girl who made me a mother, spends a good half hour physically attacking me and snarling incoherently and tearing around the house like a crazy person, it's going to upset me. But I don't have to fall apart in front of her like I did.
You did what you could, my mother said. It's only natural, my husband said. They are right. But here is what I truly believe: as her mother, it's my job to be strong in front of her, no matter what. Whatever happens in her brain when she gets like that -- it makes her weak and scared, even if it doesn't look that way. And mama falling apart doesn't help. It's my job to be stronger than she is, to take her in when she is on a rampage and say, Here. Here is a safe place to land. To be steady, to remind her that she does have a foundation, to remind her that the world isn't actually rocking underneath her feet, even if it feels that way to her.
To remember what feels like an impossibility: I am doing the best I can, and I can always do better. This is really about what happens in the space between those two phrases, what lives in the space after that comma -- it's the growth that bridges what I am doing now to what I can accomplish.
Yesterday I didn't feel ready for the battle, but today I remember how much I love that little girl. I remember that I am stronger than she is. That I am doing just fine and I can do much better.