“I was homesick,” the young girl said to her mother.

“But you were only gone for less than twenty-four hours child,” the mother replied, before grabbing the groceries from the trunk and heading inside.

“It was hard to sleep…” the girl answered, before stopping along the sidewalk.

The mother was several feet ahead, but realizing her daughter had stopped mid-sentence, she too stopped, and turning found her crying.

Walking towards her, she said, “I don’t understand. What happened?”

“No one cared that I couldn’t sleep, and I didn’t have your soft music to calm me down,” she cried.

The mother put the groceries down and silently embraced her.

“Well, tonight I’ll play music, rub your back, and you’ll sleep peacefully,” she said, before picking up the groceries and ushering her daughter inside.

As she put the food away, her daughter came over to hug her once more, and said,
“Thank you, Mom.”

Not until today did I learn that music played brings my daughter comfort. Playing music is a habit, and as such, has become an automated part of my day. In the morning and evening, I play it in hopes to set a peaceful tone, but it comes from a place of wanting to calm myself, because a mother’s energy also sets a tone.

For too long, I’d spent time ruminating over how I’ve fallen short as a parent, that the remainder felt to be spent in places of attempted catch up or correction, and many days that place turned me into an animal chasing its tail. On others, I found myself colliding into a child’s words as if loosed to walk among the streets blindfolded. It has felt surreal to remove the blindfold and witness reality greet with my failure to travel back in time to the boy or girl who I could love so simply in my arms and offer peace so easily with my eyes.

Now I need words, and using my voice steadily challenges me to move beyond the implicit expression of my embrace, which feels like asking my feet to direct the mental traffic of my heart using my hair follicles. They don’t know what I’m talking about either.

Still, it touched me to know the music I’ve played has delivered a peace that, on occasion, my words could not. It led me to think back on what it once was I thought parenthood was intended to deliver, mainly based on what I’d felt my parents had failed to deliver to me.

Those thoughts caused me to laugh and cry, realizing I’d built the framework of parenthood from keys engraved to fit the observable chains of my parent’s pain, how it led me to judge myself more harshly than necessary when feeling trapped by the freedom of a locksmith, and how the framework of leadership is best anchored in master copy.

To leave a child with something to hold onto when they can’t hold onto us or when we can’t hold onto them asks that we remain aware of our internal heaviness, and its potential to pressure them into creating keys for our perceived chains, that we aim to lighten our hearts.

This mother and daughter exchange stirred me to change the vessels holding the flowers growing in my mind’s garden. My daughter’s tears revealed that it was time to throw away the ‘fallen short‘ weeds, to replace them with something more vibrant, like the fragrance of peace picked from home and kept like dried rose petals in the journal pages of her memory.