Sunday, April 24, 2011

Loving Unconditionally

I saw the doc at my preferred urgent care yesterday and she helped treat my symptoms, so I'm finally able to think halfway clearly today--a wonderful Easter gift.  Thank you, Lord, for every blessing in my life.

My son has started back on a medication regimen.  He is almost fourteen years old--celebrating a birthday this coming week--and has strong feelings about his medication.  He complains it keeps him from sleeping and makes him feel depressed.  It's a difficult situation to explain to him that he had these same problems before the medication, when he's convinced the medication is causing them.

The medication has slowed down his motor for sure.  It makes for a huge difference in his ability to cooperate with other people.  He's less jumpy, less irritable, more attuned to others.  The downside is that the slower movement gives him time to think about things that make him sad.

The other night was a difficult one (hey, a pill doesn't cure everything) and resulted in me sending him to his room for bed early.  I saw my mother enter his room and realized a moment later that he was sobbing; real sobs from deep down inside.  The lack of anger in it was what caught my attention.  It was the first time in months I've heard him cry out of sadness instead of frustration or anger.  My mother left his room a minute later.  I was alone in the den and called to him, assuring him I was alone, and my child--the one who's taller than me, who has feet the size of a grown man and his own opinions and thoughts and beliefs--came to me, sitting next to me on the couch and allowing me to hold him like I did when he was a little boy.

And he cried.

As I held him, I thought about how hard this road is for him.  How it sucks to know that the people who conceived you don't want to take responsibility for you.  How alone and isolating it must feel, despite others wanting in through that wall.

When I was three, my grandfather died of a heart attack.  He was fifty-eight.  For years afterward, I would have a dream that I was reaching up to a door handle and I could see a skeleton costume in the doorway.  Only later, when I  was a teen, was I told that my grandfather's last visit was around October and he had brought me something kept in that closet.  I also have a vivid memory of the night he died, of waking up and finding a family friend there instead of my parents.  My grandfather, in a short three years, had connected with me in a way that left strong impressions on me.  When my grandmother remarried three years later, I had great difficulty accepting her husband.  In fact, I didn't like him at all for several years.  I refused to accept him, much as children sometimes reject a stepparent.  It took most of my adult years to come to understand that a bond with my grandmother's second husband did not negate my love for my grandfather.  In the end, this man was the only grandfather I really ever knew.  My other grandfathers died when I was a young child.  This man went to my graduations, took care of me when I visited with my grandmother, and even attended my wedding just three months after my grandmother died.  Shortly afterward, I bought him a book that I knew he would appreciate and wrote a letter to him, letting him know that I loved him and he was a wonderful grandfather.  He thanked me repeatedly for that book over several visits, but we both knew what he was thanking me for--the acknowledgement of his love and care for a child who rejected him.

Sometimes I wonder if my son will one day understand how much I love him, how much I have willingly given and sacrificed for him, or if he will always stay so focused on wanting his birth mother that he won't be able to see the forest for the trees.  I know he loves me and I love him.  But it's painful for him not to be loved by the one who should love him the most.  And despite the nearly eleven years we have been together, I don't know how reasonable it is to expect him to understand how I feel, how much I want to be loved by him.  So I trudge along, like my grandfather did, attempting to give unconditionally and love unconditionally, and praying that somehow my efforts make a positive difference for my son.

I adored my grandmother but she didn't live long enough to meet my children.  My grandfather, however, did, and he loved both of my children the same way he loved me; with an unconditional acceptance and joy.  There was always a dollar in his pocket for each of them and a hug in his arms.  My son remembers him fondly as well, with an unconditional acceptance of him being part of the family.

I am a strong believer that God places certain people in our lives to teach us lessons.  My grandfather modeled the importance of unconditional love to me.  I hope my son feels that somewhere inside, that I love him no matter what.  That his pain, his tears aren't being ignored; that I love him and will always be here to help him as much as he needs.

As he let me comfort him the other night, I was reminded of the fact that I am his mother and the frustration and anger I feel toward this boy-man should always take a second seat to love.  And in that moment, we were blessed with the opportunity to connect again without the teenage anger and frustration that so often accompanies us these days.  And I hope he walked away from that moment with an even stronger understanding of how much he is loved.

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