My Children Teach Me
Landon Chase Roberson
I gazed at his perfect face and gently ran my fingers through his strawberry blonde hair. I admired his beautiful eyes just barely peaking through from under his eyelids. I can still vividly recall every detail of his flawless face. These are the life-changing, yet seemingly ordinary, moments in our lives that we cling to and capture in our memories to replay over and over. They hold special space in our hearts and resonate so deeply with our spirit, as if we have tapped into some divine energetic connection. As I held my youngest boy in my arms I was overcome by a wave of pure peace. I seemed to have traveled to a headspace of effortless awareness. I basked in the present moment with my son, the most grateful tears I have ever shed streaming down my face. I thought, "Everything that this boy is, I see. I see his essence. I accept him fully and support the journey his life will lead him." It was a profound moment because I held in my arms, a ball of transient matter that somehow had arranged itself to take form as a human being growing inside of my very own belly. Without any sort of instructions or guidance he wonderously grew his own little hands and feet. And those feet have already walked a fair amount of earth! Water, sand, mud, concrete, grass have all covered his tiny toes. His brain is growing even more quickly! Slowly he learns words and communicates through body language. It's incredible how much communication can be done by a simple shaking of the head "yes" and "no". He is a miracle. He is the universe incarnate. And he is only one of the billions of beautiful souls that walk this Earth. What a gift it is to be a human, eh? Landon has taught me what unwavering affection feels like. He showers me with love everyday whether I feel deserving of it or not. Our bond is the strongest connection I have ever felt in my entire life and it is nothing less than magnetic. I love this boy. I never knew I could feel this much love, especially after already feeling a vary full heart with Ethan. Landon has taught me that there is no capacity on love; you can never have enough of it.
Thank you Landon.
Ethan Bradley Roberson
A couple days ago we made a trip to Bob's Red Mill in Milwaukie, OR. We were shopping in the bulk section when suddenly Ethan bolted to the candy. He began hysterically screaming, "I want candy!" He continued demanding and stomping around while dad tried to defuse the situation the best he could. In my head, I panicked. I ran through at least 10 different ways this could go even more wrong before I finally began thinking up a solution to the problem. I connected with my breath and my mind was quieted while I dropped into presence. I felt a physical warmth of gratitude and connection run through my body. I approached Ethan, sank down to his level on my knees and said, "Ethan, do you want me to hold you?" His eyes softened as he slumped into my lap. He was more embarrassed than even I was. It doesn't matter what it is, a small issue easily gets blown up into a very big one. This is especially true for Ethan, oh and for me (figures). Ethan is my mini-me. He has all my best qualities: he is independent, athletic, adventurous, and silly. He also has all of my bad qualities: he is a perfectionist, a rebel, controlling, quite the attitude. He is overly particular and demands things be done his way or else. He is difficult, and by difficult I mean that I have never in my life been challenged more by any other human being than my own first blood. He puts on dramatic displays of power and control and it's like looking at my own reflection in the mirror. Nobody has taught me more than Ethan. Ethan has taught me how to be (more) patient. He has taught me to be (more) compassionate and understanding. There are moments when I completely fall apart and I scream and nobody wants to be around me but all I want is to be embraced and loved for the messy human I am. I hugged my son in my lap as his breathing slowed and his voice calmed. I thought, "He needs what I need. He understands me. I understand him." My whole life I felt misunderstood and misrepresented. I was lonely and never felt like I fit in. He often feels the same feelings I do and he deals with them in the same ways. He will struggle with similar things I have already struggled with. He will walk a path that winds through places I have already been. And he will learn on his own time. Ethan shines light on the shadows I have been hiding, the emotions I have not dealt with, and the positive, new behaviors I have yet to refine. He reminds me that there is always more healing and more self to discover. Also, ever so gracefully, reminding me to be present and trusting in the process while always finding the time to play.
Thank you Ethan.
Brayden Anthony Roberson
Brayden holds a very special place in my heart. He is my 10 year old step-son currently living in Fresno, CA. I came into his life in 2012 when he was just 6 years old. I was far too young to know anything about parenting. I wasn't even really sure I could take care of myself. Brayden was my trial run as a parent and I pretty much botched it. I placed my ideals and unrealistic expectations on a child that was just starting to figure out who he was. He had barely started learning to read when I felt it important to impose organizational habits on someone who didn't even own a three-ring binder. I don't know what I was thinking. I was young, like really really young. I was just doing the best I could and I definitely didn't think I was doing any harm. But harm is what we inflict on our children when we snatch away the essence of what it is like to be a child. I just wanted Brayden to be a well behaved kid. My intentions were not bad, but my way of going about these behavioral changes was all wrong. I wanted him to brush his teeth when he was asked and clean his room when it needed it and I wanted him to play less on his video games, I even wanted him to like them less! Well expectations lead to resentments. I tried to change the family dynamic and I tried to force new behaviors that may (or may not) be "normal" expectations in most households but regardless, Brayden was not ready. He was not ready for this new person in his life to start bossing him around. Brayden and I's journey has been a rough one with many road bumps and moments when we have completely fallen of the tracks. There is something about a struggling relationship that can in turn connect us so deeply with who we are. We really get to witness some terrible responses from ourselves and the people we love. We see the worst and ugliest parts but we love on anyways. Because it is actually easy to love when we let everything else go. It is natural. I know this because every night I would go to bed after a long day of parenting (fighting) I would lay down in bed and feel flooded with guilt and sadness. My heart would break and I would feel suffering. I would say things like, "Why can't he just listen? Life would be so much easier if (for example) he could just put his dirty clothes in the laundry bin! Then I would not have to fight with him all the time!" Eventually he figured out the laundry but then I was always upset about something else trivial. I mean always. It drove Aaron crazy. I am grateful for his patience and willingness to stick it out even when it gets hard.
Once I had Ethan, life got even more hard because I had even more expectations on how a big brother should act. It wasn't until we moved out of state while dealing with a toddler in his terrible twos, breastfeeding a 2 month old baby, and unpacking a huge 2-story home all by myself that I finally realized, "Oh shit. I am an adult and I still cannot do it all. How can I have such extreme expectations on a little kid when I cannot even keep up with my own responsibilities?" Having 2 children close in age will reveal to you just how little you think you know about yourself and what you are capable of tolerating. Over the past year my life has changed dramatically, my expectations along with it. As I continue to discover this world of childhood through my kid's eyes I am constantly reminded of some of the magic I stole from Brayden when he was younger. It makes me sad to think about but it also reveals to me just how resilient our spirit is. Brayden and I have a much better relationship now. He knows that I have grown and he knows that Ethan and Landon have helped me settle into being a more reasonable fun-loving parent. Being away from him is hard, especially on days when the kids eat ice cream twice, stay up past their bedtimes, and rip off their clothes five times a day just to piss me off. To summarize: I wish I would have had less expectations and made more exceptions. Life is not a perfect one, it is super messy and complicated. Brayden comes to visit multiple times a year and I always look forward to it and all the lessons I will learn throughout his stay. My relationship with him continues to teach me even when he is not living with us at the time. I am able to sit back and compare the parent I am now to the parent I was then. Although that process brings up a lot of dark emotions, the most overwhelming feeling is one of change.
Thank you Brayden.