I have often heard it said that being a mother is having a piece of your heart walking around outside of your body.
I find that as a mother of multiple children, I can say that while this statement is fairly accurate, the feeling with each child is unique in itself.
The love that we hold for each of them is equal, but not the same.
One child may embody confidence and a surety that leaves us breathless at their courage, while their sibling may be wrapped in insecurities that make our hearts break as they play out. Each child is loved fully and wholly, though the effect on mom’s heart is different for each.
I have three children who will experience birthdays in the month of October. I don’t know what it is about birthdays that always make me a sappy mess. I will spend even more time than usual pondering what makes each one of these kids tick. As their mom, I have the privilege of both watching them shine at their very best, and coming alongside them when they crumble at their worst.
As all moms do, I see them in a way that others do not. I have one child that externally presents as sass and confidence. To many, this child appears to be a bit much, a bit too confident, a tad too mouthy, oozing confidence to the side of cockiness. To the mom eye, I see the insecurity underneath. I see the heart that cries out to fit in above all else. I see the tender soul that is bursting to break out, to accomplish greatness. I love this child in a way that is not present for the others. The heart that is walking around outside of my body aches for this child in a way that I did not know was possible until they were born.
This child, this is the one I long to protect from this harshness of the world.
I have another child who from appearances could not care less what the world has to say, or what others think. This child appears to walk the line of complete confidence. The mom eye sees more. The mom eye sees the worry over the future, the agonizing over each and every decision. The need for support from family. I see the greatness, steadfastness, and loyalty that are woven into this child’s character. I long to be able to hold this one’s hand, to be the voice in their head each day, encouraging, comforting, supporting.
This child, this is the one I desire to transfer my unwavering support and confidence in their abilities to.
There is one child in my house who is walking compassion. Quite possibly the most affectionate person that I know. Hugs, love, and support flow from this child for me and every member of the family. The constant cheerleader for every member of the household. Underneath, there is a fear of losing family. This child has lasting fingerprints of divorce on them. The need for reassurance that the family is intact, in whatever form it is, follows this child. On a regular basis, no matter how tired we are, time is spent pouring into this child how loved they are, how special they are, and most importantly how we, as the mom and step-dad, will do everything in our power to make life safe for this one.
This is the child my hearts breaks to be able to protect from the inevitable changes in their world and the sense of lack of control it creates within them.
The final child is a mix of all of these and more. They appear confident to the world, surrounded by friends, loved by many, always laughing. There is an unrest that can be seen behind those eyes. There is a turmoil behind the smile. There is insecurity in that funny story being told. The mom eye sees it. The mom heart feels for it, always there when a hand is needed when assurance is required.
This child needs to know they are fully accepted and will be loved no matter what they choose to say or think.
Portions of these personalities are just that, their individual personalities. Other portions are the lasting fingerprints of a divorce, that shook their world when they had no control over it.
Divorce, like any other traumatic experience, changes us, down to our very core. Many people acknowledge the change in the parents, the adults, but we need to remember the marks left on the children as well. When we decided to divorce, our kids were 4, 6, 8, and 10. While there is not a single person who knows us that would say we should still be together, the impact on the kids must be acknowledged.
My husband is fabulous with all of them and stepped into loving them with an abandon that I could never have imagined to ask for. That does not change their history. That does not remove the experience from them. All we can do now is continue to support, love, and build further security moving forward.
Recognizing the needs as they arise, and breaking apart each potential discipline and emotional issue to determine what the actual cause is, what the child is really needing, and supporting in the best way we can.