when we can’t protect them from really hard things

I love my kid so much it hurts.

When I think about how much I love her, my lungs get all tight and I feel like all my breath could get sucked out in a single love punch.

We all have a kid, a parent, a sister, a friend, a dog we love with that “rip you apart from the inside out” kind of love.

And when my kid was born, I wanted to build this invisible perma-shield that could protect her from the barbwire fences of the world: the painful, icky, horrible, awful stuff that we’ve all experienced and know how much it can knock you down like a well-thrown basketball to the chest.

First it was protecting her from germs. Then, she threw up a bunch and I realized getting sick was building her immune system.

Next, it was protecting her from the playground. But I realized that a few bumps and bruises came with the process of developing her hand-eye coordination – and that would make her stronger.

In the last few years, it’s been protecting her from other kids. Bullies. Mean kids. Really mean kids. I mean, some of the stories I would hear her tell – not only about herself but about other kids – made this mom want to stomp into that school and read those bullies their Miranda Rights and throw them in the slammer.

Talk about loving so much it hurts.

I prayed for her, gave her the best advice I could think of, let her talk. Sometimes I talked too much. I tried to help her blow it off, use her words to stand up for herself. I encouraged and loved and tried and attempted and when I was alone, cried.

There was no perma-shield to protect her. There was absolutely nothing I could do, and though I wanted to literally go to school with her, walk beside her, and protect her from the mean kids, I couldn’t do it. First, I have a job during the day, and second, well, that’s just plumb crazy. That’s just the mama bear talking. I love kids and know that bullies are just hurting people. 

But you understand, right? That love? That overwhelming desire to fix it?

Then something happened.

And it was a lesson for me. A big one.

When my sweet girl needs encouragement, she picks up her guitar and plays – sometimes for hours. After one of those long, guitar playing afternoons, she called me into the music room.

And played me this song:

I know you make fun of who I am/Just knock me down the way that you can/I’m gonna believe what I want to/No one can tell me what I can’t do

So I’ll scream and I’ll shout/Don’t need the world’s help/I’ll dance and I”ll sing/Now I know my dreams

And they will SHINE/SHINE/SHINE/my dreams

You stick a paper on my back/writing the words that say trash/and even though you laugh at me/nothing can keep me from who I want to be

So I’ll scream and I’ll shout/Don’t need the world’s help/I’ll dance and I”ll sing/Now I know my dreams

You can’t tell me who I am/You can’t tell me who I’ll be/You can’t tell me that I’m different/You can’t tell me I’M NOT ME

I am strong/I am loved/I am worthy/I’m ME

…and the song continues on with the chorus. But I was amazed. All that time I was worrying about protecting my girl, she was growing. She was struggling, but she was using the pain to write her song, to make her music…

To realize she was strong, loved, and worthy.

The things in those lyrics – that stuff happened. But because of the pain, my girl was forced to walk into it and grow. She expressed her experience through song – and like sickness grows immunity and bumps develop coordination, her hard times helped her see who she really is.

She’s gone on to play her song for the school talent show (winning first place) and recently we made her very first music video (below). But more than that, she’s taught this mama a lesson.

As hard as it is to say, I don’t want to protect her from the hard things anymore. I mean, I don’t want her to go through them, but that’s life. It’s going to happen. My job is to help her see that who she is doesn’t change, how valuable she is doesn’t waiver, and how loved and worthy she is will ALWAYS stay the same.

And I can do that.

But I’m still on the lookout for an amazing invisibility cloak so I can tag along when she goes on her first date.