My Mama Heart

17 year old son of the author standing at a green chalkboard (in a lecture hall) with a piece of white chalk

Where We’re At…

My 17 year old son is in his senior year of high school.

He holds one of the biggest pieces of my heart.

It has been a lot for both of us.

Last Saturday, we went to a family lunch to celebrate my birthday where we think we both ate bad oysters. His symptoms were worse than mine and while I was feeling better by Tuesday, he woke up on Wednesday morning with new symptoms, a fever and aches which we now think are part of a stomach flu virus, which took another turn for the worse in the wee hours of this morning. Food poisoning –> Stomach flu in one week, for a foodie and a senior (or anyone for that matter), is a lot.

He ended up missing three days of school, including his community college class and an after school project he was supposed to support. Tomorrow, he was supposed to retake the SAT, but we canceled it because his health (and the health of others in the room) are more important than the 50-80 points we estimated he might improve his score. This is the last SAT session that he can make before he needs to submit his college applications (he will be testing for his 3rd degree Tae Kwon Do blackbelt during the November test date).

All of this has been a thing, but mostly it hasn’t, except that I wish he felt better.

How We’ve Been

Both of us have been stressed lately.

At the beginning of this week when I was feeling extremely ill and not able to sit up for long periods of time, the 11 projects I’m working on (several of which have looming deadlines) felt completely overwhelming. In addition to these projects, conferences that I’m helping to facilitate are coming up in less than two weeks and I felt completely unprepared. The multiple transitions in our lives have been weighing on my heart.

My son was upset about his science class where, for the first time ever in his secondary school career (in a STEM subject), he felt that his grade didn’t reflect his knowledge at all. He was stressed about the SAT. He recently failed his first attempt at his drive test. He’s been struggling with injuries that aren’t allowing him to do the final demonstration/ testing that he wants to.

It has been a lot for both of us.

What We’ve Learned

Somewhere in this week, we let go. We (independently) came to the realization that we couldn’t do more than our bodies would allow us to. We remembered that our worth (to those who truly care) is more than a set of numbers, is more than our productivity, is more than getting everything right. We recognized that we both are privileged enough to be in places where the consequences of missing a few days will not be dire (when we have family members who don’t share this same privilege). We came to understand that we had to trust the process, the universe, God, ourselves, that we would get to exactly where we needed to go even if it didn’t look the way we thought it should.

[We also realized that a school that could not see past 50-80 points of difference on a standardized test (which is truly not a measure of skills needed to succeed in college) into who he is isn’t a school he should be at anyways.]

The stress can blind us from seeing one another, from seeing ourselves, and from listening to our embodied wisdom. Our bodies could not go on. They forced us to listen. It’s been a hard lesson to learn in some ways, but so important.

Seeing Ourselves and One Another

One of my 11 projects involves interviews with teachers. I interviewed three this week and at each of these interviews, my mama heart felt a deep tenderness (this has been happening A LOT in these interviews). What has struck me about these educators is that they seek to see their students, to create a place of belonging for them. They want students to feel like they have someone who cares for them on campus.

Next month, my 17 year old and I will present together on a panel with other friends (of mine, at least) about his high school experience, which has largely not been this. Hearing these teachers reminds me so much of what my mama heart yearns for, that this quietly extraordinary young person that I’ve known for 18 years (before he was even born) is seen, is affirmed in his unique form of amazingness, that he is loved and held by more than his family, for the entirety of who he is.

This week, as hard as it has been, reminds me that we’re going to be okay, even if this journey for him hasn’t been all that I wish it was and even if it still isn’t exactly what I imagined.

Sometimes, we have to let go of these visions to see one another; sometimes we have to let go of what is hard to embrace what is in front of us.

In all of it, we have to trust.

My tender mama heart is learning and leaning into this, even as one of its biggest parts is aching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *