Sunday, October 21, 2012

Love. Protection. And Sleep Deprivation.

I have condensed in my mind the journey of motherhood. It consists of love, protection and sleep deprivation. My two sons, Russell, 22 and Joel, 19 are as different as night and day, yet similar in many ways. Regardless of their similarities and differences, they have changed my world. That’s love.
Russell arrived after 33 hours of labor; he took his time and was in no hurry to get here. I remember calling my grandmother when Russell was born. She was so excited for me. She knew Russell was born with congenital heart disease (more about that in next week’s story Dr. Canoe Paddle) and she said to me, “Love that boy and watch over him.” And so I did. I watched him when he was awake and I watched him when he slept. That’s love and protection!

Joel arrived after 90 minutes of labor. He’s been fast and fearless since the moment he arrived. Joel never slept. He was climbing and running before he was one. We had to lock him in his crib at night with a loosely woven blanket and vice grips just to contain him so we could sleep. That’s love, protection and sleep deprivation.
When I called my grandmother after Joel was born she simply said, “Oh . . . bless you child.” She was the mother of two sons. She knew what was in store for me. As the boys grew older I learned that all I really needed was a black and white striped jersey and a whistle to succeed in motherhood. Each day started with the battle cry, “Let the games begin.” I was the referee. Russell and Joel could fight about anything. I believe it was their language. On long car rides (1000 miles to grandparents) they would fight about who was looking out whose window. It was unbelievable. I had intentionally bought that big uncool minivan just so they wouldn’t be able to reach each other while I was driving. But I could do nothing about who was looking out whose window.
I remember one trip north to visit grandparents I stopped at Promised Land State Park in Pennsylvania. I planned a camp out and an early morning hike in hopes of wearing the boys out in order to have a quiet second half of the journey. It seemed like a brilliant plan to me. We enjoyed an evening walk under the stars and crawled into the tent to sleep. I was between them and had just fallen asleep when I awoke to the sound of them arguing. I sat up thinking, “now what!” But as I looked at them I realized they were sound asleep. Unbelievable! That’s just sleep deprivation!
During their teen years when they had to move away from childhood friends and then watch their father leave they formed a bond that touches my heart to this day. It’s as if when their world was falling apart they decided they’d stick together. They still argue and fight of course but they referee themselves quite well. At times I’ve watched their bond and have felt on the outside looking in wondering if I still fit in their world. Do they need my love and protection I wonder?  I still lose sleep.
A couple years ago we were in Massachusetts with grandparents and family for Christmas. We woke up the day after to news of an incoming blizzard. My boys were determined to get home to South Carolina and not be snowed in for New Years Eve away from friends. Being the responsible adult that I am, I stated that there was no way I was going to drive in a snow storm. They answered, “Fine. We’ll drive.”
Joel, in his fast and fearless way, started off in the driver seat for our journey. He pushed it far longer than I would have dreamed possible before he finally turned the wheel over to my more cautious Russell. I was thankful when after less than an hour Russell declared the roads unsafe. In ten hours we made it as far as Pennsylvania. We pulled into a motel off the highway and miracle of miracles, they had two rooms left. I took both, said good night to the boys and was glad to be rid of them for a few hours.

I had just fallen asleep when I heard a loud crash as my door was being kicked in. I screamed and the intruder ran off. My boys heard my screams from their room and came out running, chasing after the intruder. The intruder was not found.The police were called, reports were filed.

That night my boys tucked me in and kissed me goodnight. When I woke up, they were sitting on the floor with their backs to the door watching over me. Life is a circle of love, protection and sleep deprivation. My world is forever changed. I'm glad.