I went to the park in a funk on Friday, put there in part by new hospital bills and new medication needs for my 5 year old. I had one of those headaches that have you seriously considering attempting self trepannation. I was hoping the little boys would wear themselves out, while I sat like a reclusive sloth on the sidelines.
No such luck. The only free bench was mined with a chatty mother watching her daughters. Sure enough as soon as I sat, with my hood up, my body in a non-attitude of chattiness, the chatty mother began to chat.
One of her two daughters has a chronic ilnness, she told me out of the blue. She had no idea that she was speaking to a fellow "caretaker" of a chronically ill child.
This articulate mom was at the park with her polite, smart, well-behaved, social little girls. She's managing her daughter's illness so well that her daughter can be out and about, learning and playing and being a child. Until her daughter's next crisis...
Yet, this mom wasn't basking in the peace of the sunny play day, she was frustrated with a myriad of things from chronic lack of sleep to her weight gain since her daughter's last round of hospitalizations to the feeling of being "undisciplined" and not accomplishing enough. She was frustrated that though she is a christian she is still sometimes gripped with fear when she looks at her daughter. She felt that she should be over that by now. And that's just what she shared in our 45 minute acquaintance.
I didn't have many words for her. All I could think was, really? And then I checked to make sure I was speaking to a real person and not some phantom projection of my subconscious. I hope that venting relived her spirit. I hope she gets some sleep.
It was illuminating to see the commonalilty of frustrations and the tendency towards an exhausted sort of self-flagellation among caretakers. A sort of tunnel vision that lacks grace for self.
She will probably never know how she relieved my gloom. It is always illuminating to see one's self, even be it dimly, through the mirror of someone else.