It is a dangerous stew.
Puberty in a very traumatized child, who lives in a constant state of shame.
That same kid has a birthday today.
They sabotage their own birthday - destroy it - stomp it into nothingness, because they doesn't believe they deserve it.
This is following 2.5 years of Mom being beat to a pulp under the fear of that trauma. Daily darts of rejection from your child. This is tough stuff (and that sentence is such a JOKE - there is absolutely no way to truly capture what it means to parent our hurt kids).
This morning, they were the last to come out of their room. I was nervous.
Walked through the living room and their older sister started beating out "Happy Birthday" on the keyboard (they have been working all week on this). The birthday kid smiled. at. their. sister. and waited for her to finish, before talking.
Everyone told them happy birthday and this kid. smiled. and said, "thank you." They all talked about cards and pictures they wanted to give them, and asked if they should do them now or wait. This. kid. smiled. (seeing a theme here?) and told them to wait until later. I said, "Maybe tonight when we have your cake after Dad gets home." And. they. smiled.
I said, "I thought you might want to start your birthday by reading all of the comments from people on my blog yesterday." And. they. smiled. and said, "Okay."
I just watched them, walking down with her siblings to do some chores, until they was out of sight.
And I cried.
I also felt this thing ... this thing we all WANT to feel, but have long since lost in the middle of the pain and rejection.
I felt loving feelings for my child. In that moment, I wanted to run them down and wrap my arms around them and smell their hair.
Instead of painfully embarrassing the 11-year-old, I'm crying while I write this out. Praying, hoping, dreaming for more. Knowing the day is not over and may very well change, but I will take my moment. The moment is huge. The moment proves this can be done - that not just they can heal, but that they can draw others to them by their mere existence.
Today, I actually felt loving feelings for my child.