I stood in the doorway, tears streaming down my face. My oldest son’s eyes, wide with confusion and regret, trying to figure out which of his complaints had caused this awkward, silent, sobbing. I took a deep breath and my voice shook as I kindly explained to him.
“Son, I know this isn’t easy, but everyone has a battle, everyone has a story that keeps them grounded, and this is part of yours. The reason I cry is because you are so frustrated right now by your story, and the inconveniences you have to endure because of it. But you have no idea, and you probably never will, how hard we fought for you. The years of frustration, prayers, determination and tears, on and on … that it took to get you where you are right now. Right now. So (understandably) frustrated that your journey doesn’t always look like the next person’s. Yet I always know how bad it could have been. All I see is how far we have come, and yet it’s still hard for you. And that is why I cry.”
The thing they will never fully understand.
My son had a series of complicated health issues as a baby. He leads a wonderful life, but there are certain medication procedures he has to deal with everyday and sometimes they understandably discourage him. Maybe your journey was with infertility or miscarriage, or something else medical. Maybe it’s a difficult adoption process, a learning disability, a custody battle or a child who has struggled with violence, anxiety, identity or self-worth. Perhaps they will never know just how greatly the odds were stacked against them. Whatever it is; it is the thing they will never fully understand – how much you went through, to get them where they are today.
I don’t need him to say thank you. I don’t even need him to understand.
As parents we don’t want our children to feel pain and difficulty so we prefer they not know all the details. Unfortunately, however, I know that when he has children of his own one day, he will. It may not be a medical issue, it may not look like our situation, but one day he will inevitably feel the depths of great anguish and great victory that make up this emotional journey we call parenting. He will feel the sacrifices that result in both desperate prayers and tremendous pride for our children. He will stumble across that moment that takes his breath away. That humble realization, that as parents, we fight so hard for our children, in ways they will never fully realize. Our parents did it for us. We do it for our children. They will do it for theirs.
So here’s to all the mommas who have cried out in prayer at the bedside of their child. Here’s to the mommas who have stood in court. Who have endured sleepless nights pacing the halls of hospitals. Who have torn through the doors of a school – demanding resources. The mommas who have worked two jobs, the night shift, or the single-mom shift. Here’s to the salt of a mother’s tears. The tears that represent a love that fights gallantly behind the scenes, silently, when no one else is watching.
Because, at the end of the day, there is no greater advocacy than a mother’s love. There is no greater fight to be found and no stronger shield of protection to be had. From generation to generation, the unspoken battle is passed down..