Love is Always the Answer {I choose to believe}

Post by Tania Stearns-Smith for the Love for Love series.

Love is Always the Answer
{I choose to believe}

A true journaler, i think, would have run to the blank pages the moment the news broke- madly, furiously scribbling down the shock, the disbelief, the grief, the heartbreak but it took me a full two weeks short two days to be able to put pencil to paper. “oh sweet girl, it was not supposed to happen to us…(from my journal)

But it did. Our girl lost her way for a while and we are two years minus 2 months into a journey of restoration. There will not be details here of “what” happened or “why” it happened. Those stories are hers to share, or not. These words I am stringing together are about the mother. Me. Bits of my story. My humble choice to love; without faltering (to the outward eye at least) and how that simple, yet most difficult choice is helping to bring us all home.

It would have been easy to get swallowed up in talking about the problems we were having, to lay blame on others, to heap coals of shame upon myself and my daughter. It would have been easier (but was never ever considered) in the short term, I sometimes think, to wash my hands of her. To let dogma, judgement and consequences rule the day, to bring order and distance to our home.

It was a very deliberate choice to choose LOVE.

We sat together, my husband and I and made one goal…to not break our relationship with her, so that she would always have a family to return to, to feel safe with, and the only way we could do that was to fall head over heals into radical love for her. Every situation we face with her, even to this day, is always prefaced by that one commitment we wrote out.. the commtiment of keeping the reationship unbroken. It is our guiding principle.

We had to add to that goal as the months passed. Our goal became two fold; to remain in relationship and to keep her safe from serious harm. It is heartbreaking to a mama heart to have to write those words. Keeping her safe for a while meant giving her away to friends to care for her, in small towns, far from my arms. That was also LOVE. but that is another story for another time.

Love, as in, dirty, stained, broken, pull you out of ditches, wash you all over, smother you in tenderness and solidarity love. Love that meant putting everyone and everything else on the back burner to do the emergency rescue work that needed to be done. Without complaint, without letting the fear win, without judging or blaming because judging and blaming are smooth, easy, slippery slope ways to shatter love. I banned both from my vocabulary and my head and I worked hard to protect my heart from them.

Every evening, during the darkest days, this broken hearted mother would be found writing gratitude lists… specifically about my beloved girl because no matter how dark it got, how hard it was, how much venom and pain was thrown at me, there was always a slim, fragile, barely discernible glimmer of light. Of the girl that I knew I was fighting, love fighting, to return to me.

So I would write out the list, and I also, because I am oh-so-human and fragile, wrote out an “I Hate” list… because there was lots to be righteously angry about and it could go onto the page or it could remain in me… I chose the page. It was the safer choice.

To love the child that was breaking her own heart and the hearts of those who adored her was a lesson in humility. Suddenly I was “the mother”… you know the one, we see her at the mall, with the surly teenager stomping along ahead or behind her… and we wonder… we sometimes judge… either of them. I became her for a short season and going out in public became very hard to do. To love the girl who no longer wanted to be in the family circle meant to keep the circle going without her, so it would be there for her when she returned. It meant having a birthday dinner for her, even though she had run away just two days before. She agreed to come home for cake. Not gonna lie, that was the hardest dinner ever.

As a mother who has a child who has lost their way, I needed to become the hope keeper for her. I am the one who contiues to believe, wholeheartedly and with fierce commitment that she will be fine. More than fine. She will be great. She will continue to become who she is meant to be. Nothing is wasted in the creation of our lives if we can turn our darkess into light. She will be a very bright light indeed. I need to be the one holding her north star for her until she can return to herself and move towards it. This means I am the one who defends her when necessary, protects her when she lets me, reminds her of who she is when she has forgotten. Practically speaking this looks like full-time parenting, a whole lot of contact, driving her places and picking her up, practicing harm reductions, offering escapes from this world she is in, to other places. (We just returned from Thailand). It means learning to use my voice, when in the past I haven’t had to very much, with teachers and administrators, and counsellors and police officers. This love I have choosen to give her is a full-time investment, and for now, my life’s work.

The love I hold for her, the love I have chosen to offer her is the way home. I believe that with my whole heart, with every exchange I have with her, with every tear I shed for her… love is the way.

This little poem found its way to me and I taped in into my journal that I keep just for heart spilling about the girl. I by no means consider myself to be a “great mother” as the poem says, but I do believe I am a loving mother. One that does see my girl in the future, shining bright.

Mother and Child
(from “the people, yes”)

“I love you,”
said a great mother.
“I love you for what you are
knowing so well what you are.
And I love you more yet, child,
deeper yet than ever, child,
for what you are going to be,
knowing so well you are going far,
knowing your great works are ahead,
ahead and beyond,
yonder and far over yet.”

Hi, I’m Tania, happily married, momma to 4, auntie to many, seeker of beauty, gratitude finder, snail mail sender, photo-taker, tea drinker, messy gardener, barefoot wanderer, friend gatherer, life-lover.

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