Too Much

A child who feels absolutely everything with an intensity that can be overwhelming, raised in a family that is repelled by (and afraid of) strong emotion, occupies a curious space.

From my earliest memory I understood that the sadness, the disappointment and even the joy that swirls within any family system would be claimed in my family by no one but me. Everyone else was just fine. I was frequently “too much” (crying, laughing, worrying) for my parents, but I could never figure out how to be any other way. Although therapists I would see as an adult helped me understand the ways I did learn to deny and disconnect myself from all of those messy feelings, there was still quite a heavy burden to bear. The only way that my child self could manage to bear it was to do it alone. To take it in and let myself feel it, but never, never to let it out. No talking, no sharing, no actual acknowledgement to anyone but myself. Unfortunately, the tools we learn in childhood are so very hard to dismantle.

I know better now, but I don’t always do better. Sometimes the world just seems to be entirely too much for me and the only place I know to go is inward. This isn’t where I want to be and it’s not where I need to be. It’s certainly not a tool I want to show my children how to build for themselves. So today I’m letting some of it go. Giving voice to the turbulence that has been swirling in here and keeping me silent.

Sandy Hook. While my boys were shaking morrocos and racing cars in their living room at our weekly neighborhood play date, that school and all of the souls inside it were being terrorized. I didn’t even know it was going on until I turned on NPR as we headed to the grocery after nap that afternoon. As I listened, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. This was not little tear rolling down the cheek kind of crying, this was sobbing/losing your breath/assuring your toddler that you’re ok kind of crying. When we got to the store I crawled in the space between their car seats and held both their hands. I explained that I was sad, but that I would be ok and that I was so, so glad to be their Mama.

There are so many layers to this awful, awful thing that days later my breath still catches when my mind wanders in that direction.  It’s entirely incomprehensible. It’s not a thing that can be understood, but it’s so very hard to just let it be. To love your own children the very best you can and let the darkness remind you only to shine your own light.

Saul. And then there is the family who embodies this light in the darkness like no one else. Their story is theirs to tell and they do it with wide open hearts, but I urge you to check in over at .breaking into blossom. and send all the love you can muster in their direction. Their recent loss has me reeling. How something so unthinkable could happen to such kind, loving people is more than I can grasp. More than I want to, really. However, R and J are making their way through this with an inspiring grace. They make me even more grateful to be a part of this community.

The Monkey Bump. The surgery was Monday and the boy sailed through like a champ. According to Yogi, he has a boo-boo, but it’s looking better every day. They didn’t even stitch externally, they just sealed him up with glue. Weird. Given my terrible tendency to dread obsessively (what a surprise that is, huh?!), we all lucked out when the surgeon worked us in at the last minute. We had to time to get the boy ready, but not really enough time to get lost in the “what if my baby doesn’t wake up?” crazy. In spite of the shortened time table, I still managed to wear myself out fairly completely and by the time we settled the Monk into his crib post-surgery both my wife and I felt like we could sleep for a week.

All of this has left me feeling both more vulnerable and more grateful for my family. Having the opportunity to parent these boys is a  blessing. It’s scary to be a parent. Scary to love these tiny little people who can get sick and hurt us and even leave us. We need each other. We need other parents to lean on and to support. We need to hear each others stories. I need it for sure. Thank you for listening to mine.


12 thoughts on “Too Much

  1. Hello! Jess (and Tricia and Hudson) here. Thank you so much for sharing what’s going on in there. I appreciate your candor and honesty. I’ve had a hard time expressing my own feelings about Sandy Hook too – it seems like it’s so obvious how everyone feels that saying out loud isn’t necessary. But yet it SO is!
    Since last Friday, my emotions have been right on the edge and my tears are hanging out behind my eyeballs just waiting for any tiny excuse to come out. I gave up my job a couple of months ago and am now a full time SAHM to Hudson. The more he becomes the center of my everything, the more vulnerable I feel at the thought that something could ever happen to him. It’s terrifying. I’m not sure there’s much we can do but sit with those feelings. But I’ll tell you, it really feels good to read your post and know that I’m not alone!
    Thinking of you often in regards to the “Monkey Bump” and SOO happy that the surgery went well.
    Lots of love to all of you,
    Jess, Tricia and Hudson

    • So good to hear from you and congrats on the SAHM decision! I’d love to hear how you’re transitioning. I was thinking about you guys a lot actually with all of this surgery business. I’m entirely smitten with the peds anesthesiologists at our hospital and if your wife were in range I would have to hug her neck!

  2. I’ve been feeling pretty raw about it too. Little things catch me, like a song from Your a Good Man Charlie Brown come on the broadway channel, and I just lose it. Holding Curly a little tighter, hugging him and kissing him more.

  3. So very very glad you had an outlet for your thoughts and feelings.
    So very very glad Monkey’s surgery went well.
    In the wake of Sandy Hook, I look at and talk to my students differently. They are so precious.
    I hold my children closer, tighter. They are two of the.most.important people in my life.
    As are you. Sending virtual hugs.

  4. I can’t stop thinking about this line: “From my earliest memory I understood that the sadness, the disappointment and even the joy that swirls within any family system would be claimed in my family by no one but me.” Wow. That is at once beautiful and so, so overwhelming. So, so much to carry. I’m glad we have each other to help with the burden.

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