Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mama, Do You Love Me?

Most Alaskans are familiar with Barbara M. Joosse's popular book that talks about the unconditional love of a mother for her child. I bought a copy of 'Mama, Do You Love Me' when Wolf was about four, subliminally knowing even then that we were in for a long parenting journey. Even more so now, as that four-year-old grows into a young man of sixteen. It was a hard family therapy session this morning, made even harder by Wolf's difficulties with honesty and his own self-esteem. Perhaps other parents of children with AS will be able to relate to some exerpts from Joosse's book today...

"Mama, do you love me?
Yes I do, Dear One.
How much?"

As much as it takes. As much time, effort, and tears to help you help yourself on a journey I am not sure most adults would be willing to embark.

"...How long?
I'll love you until the
umiak flies into the darkness,
till the stars turn
to fish in the sky,
and the puffin howls at the moon."

In other words, forever. Some things might happen; some crazy, unexpected and painful things, but I will be there. Still.

"Mama, what if I carried our eggs-
our ptarmigan eggs!-
and I tried to be careful,
and I tried to walk slowly,
but I fell
and the eggs broke?
Then I would be sorry.
But still,
I would love you."

Even when you tried to cook dinner by yourself and burned the pan black; even when you gave me recycled toys of your own for my birthday, even when you lost your friend's bicycle helmet trying to do the right thing...

"...What if I threw
water at our lamp?
Then, Dear One,
I would be very angry.
But still,
I would love you."

I was angry when you removed the stones from my grandmother's jewlery. I was even more angry when you lost them. But I still loved you, didn't I? You are more precious than those precious stones.

"What if I ran away?
Then I would be worried.
What if I stayed away and sang with the wolves
and slept in a cave?
Then, Dear One, I would be very sad.
But still, I would love you."

Even if, Wolf, you take a spot in that cave of darkness and pretend you belong there, even if we both know you do not, I will always welcome you back.

"What if I turned
into a musk-ox?
Then I would be surprised.
What if I turned into a walrus?
Then I would be surprised
and a little scared."

I understand your struggle to find your identity as You. I understand even more your desire to fit in among your peers. But you'll have to find your own space, where you are comfortable in your own skin, not that of someone else.

"What if I turned
into a polar bear,
and I was the meanest bear you ever saw
and I had sharp, shiny teeth,
and I chased you into your tent
and you cried?"

"Then I would be very surprised
and very scared.
But still,
inside the bear,
you would be you,
and I would love you."

Even confronting my worst wild animal fear would not stop this mother from coming out of her tent if it meant seeing you beyond those sharp, shiny teeth...

"I will love you,
forever and for always,
because you are
my Dear One."


dorothy said...

Sounds like a book I need to own and a friend I need to spend some time with. Rendevous...soon?

Alison L. said...

Beautiful Erin.