The best advice I ever received was from my lifelong friend, Jane.
“Whatever you do, do it out of love,” was what she told me.
She gave me these words when Cole was newly born and by newly, I mean my epidural hadn’t even worn off, but Jane had found the hospital we were in and called me. She asked me how I was doing and I told her I was scared. Babies came with soft spots, umbilical nubs and stuff. They seemed like extremely fragile merchandise.
“Whatever you do, do it out of love,” she said, her warm familiar voice soothing my heart. “And you will do fine, my friend.”
I know I am far from perfect when it comes to being a parent but I have used those words as my compass the last nine years. If anything, I think I probably fail daily, saying things I shouldn’t, I am snappish at times when I am tired or stressed, but my child knows that I love him. I am still my worst critic in every area of my life, but this is one area in particular I really want to get right. Even when I mess up, I am still trying to do everything from a place of love.
Mama had too when I was younger. Even when she tried to sabotage her own child, she was doing it from a place of love. It was 10th grade, and two of my friends on the cheerleading team wanted me to try out – why, you may ask would they want a chubby, clumsy girl to try out? Was it a cruel joke? No, they knew I am extremely loud and could add some volume to the cheers. They worked with me tirelessly for weeks before the try-outs. I had no idea Mama had gone to the school behind my back and told them not to let me make the team – she was worried I would get hurt and she didn’t want me going to away games.
When I didn’t make it, her lack of surprise startled me.
“You knew I was so clumsy I wouldn’t make it, didn’t you?” I asked. If anyone is supposed to believe in you, even when you know you tank, it’s your mother.
Mama slowly weighed her words. “No, Kitten. I knew you wouldn’t … because I had kind of told the school not to let you on the squad.”
“Did you not think I could take care of that on my own? You know I can’t do my arms and legs in different directions at the same time without poking myself in the eye!”
That was the truth, and I did it a couple of times during the try outs. I also froze when I was supposed to do my cartwheel. I did, however, smile like a briar eating possum throughout the whole ordeal. Despite my humiliating attempt, I was more mortified that my mother would go to the school and tell the administrators her Kitten was too precious and fragile to be on a Gwinnett bound bus in a cheerleader uniform.
“Why would you do such a thing?” I asked.
“I did it out of love …” Was her weak reply.
I look at my own child now, all full of boy-energy, wanting to do the things all little boys want to do and understand her fears. He wants a skate board. I told him absolutely not, under no circumstances, over my dead body, no.
“Why don’t you ever let me have any fun?” he wailed, running to his father.
That safe-keeping, that worry, that protective mama cat … it’s all coming from a place of love.