I was shuffling through my bedroom drawer last night, looking for a brand new lipstick that I just know I bought a couple months ago. It was almost three in the morning which means my mind was rabbit-holing a million other things besides the perfect shade of 90’s brown. Instead, I found a crumpled index card with my daughter’s child-like handwriting on it, no doubt one of her love notes to me over the years.
Hi, mom. You are sweet. I love you. You make cakes and they are good just like you. You play with me and it is fun. I try on high heels and you laugh. You are funny just like me. You made a good family.
I love you, Miss Maya
All the feelings came swiftly — a sensation much like being punched in the gut, a tight throat and a steady stream of tears overcame me as I sat on the edge of my bed in my quiet home (I’ve noticed that my tears flow freely in the middle of the night when there are no children around to witness them).
You made a good family.
Her words, simple and innocent, pierced my heart. A good family. I haven’t felt good for a really long time and I certainly haven’t felt very successful in the family building department lately, so those five words stung. The same way it stings when I see a family together, cheering for their child on the soccer field. The same sting I feel when I see a man with his arm protectively around a woman like she is the most important thing to him. The sting of a happy family Facebook memory that pops up on my feed. They’re all stings and they all hurt.
The good family I made is looking a little bit different lately, and it’s in a way I never thought it was going to look: just me and my six babies. Of course, they’re not babies anymore they are *takes a deep breath* 20, 18, 17, 15, 13 and 12. Sometimes you just have to step back and wonder how you got here.
Starting a family is glorious. It feels like the universe is open to you and everything is limitless. I remember the feeling well.
You will not make the same mistakes as your parents.
You will not let your children feel the same hurt you felt as a child.
You will love your partner in life forever.
Your marriage will be different.
You will hang on.
Yet somehow, you end up in that same place and yes you do make the same mistakes as your parents and your children will feel the same hurts and your partner won’t be in your life forever. Sigh.
But does this take away from my family’s inherent goodness? That’s the thought I’ve been struggling with lately. We still love each other. We still hug each other, look out for each other, pray for each other, laugh with each other, support each other, go on vacation together, go to church together, sit around the dinner table and talk together. I’ve just been doing it without a husband and my kids have been doing it without a dad. This is both heartbreaking (for all of us) and liberating (for me), to be honest.
Still, the question lingers….did I make a good family? And the answer is yes, always yes.