I knew I loved you before you were even born, and I instantly took to mothering you as my own. You were my dear, sweet little boy -- blonde hair and bright blue eyes, chubby cheeks and joyous laugh. You were cherished by everyone that surrounded you, and you returned their love -- in your youth. You offered smiles and hugs; you wrote me letters and drew pretty pictures. I adored you and you admired me -- in your youth. I tucked you under the covers and read you endless bedtime stories. I remember you first fumbling over words, then becoming more confident, until together we had mastered that first book -- Ten in Bed. And the little one said, “Roll over; roll over,” those sweet words repeated in my head, happily inflated with pride. You learned from me and you accepted my love -- in your youth.
I was determined to protect you from everything bad and ugly in this world -- boogie monsters and bullies. I could look under your bed and tell you no monsters dwelled there. I could peak in your closet and holler, then announcing I had scared the beasts away. I would protect you from dangers both imagined and immediate.
I still remember him cursing and shaking you -- a frightened five-year-old. He was angry, frustrated, irrational in his reaction. I cursed back and pushed him boldly away from you. I held you and rocked you. You didn’t have to go to school that day if the kids were picking on you, and he wouldn’t be allowed to pick on you either because I was there to provide protection. We stayed home and snuggled back in bed, and I again felt insurmountable pride for having kept you safe and sound. I wanted you to feel secure and loved. I could offer you that security and protection -- in your youth.
But then you grew, and we grew apart. I learned I couldn’t protect you from everything bad and ugly because sometimes the monsters aren’t outside. They can’t be defeated with fists or fights. They don’t live under beds or hide in closets. They don’t push you on the playground or rage irrationally when you refuse to arise from bed.
The worst monsters live deep inside of you. Those demons that dwell within you are familiar to me as well; I too have lived that hell. They reside in the relentless, looping thoughts determined to convince you of your worthlessness. They delight in the anger that boils up in your belly and trickles out of your mouth in wicked, unintended words. Those monsters are liars and scoundrels, but you believe their blasphemy and let them conquer you. In their reign, they have eradicated your childhood contentment. You have forgotten the easy pleasures of your youth.
If I could, I would restore your youthful joy that I might see you smile sincerely once again. I would don armor and slay those monsters, but you keep them too well hidden to be defeated. I could help if you would only take my hand, but the hatred that accompanies those beasts prevents this. I’m not disappointed or angry, though, because I know. I know how hard it is to ask for help. I know how hard it is to fight those damned demons, but I also need you to know that I still adore you as you once admired me -- in your youth.