As a parent, trusting people is really important to maintaining your sanity and having a sense of “normal”. Without trust, parents could never leave their children with a nanny and go back to work after a few weeks maternity leave. Without trust, there is no hiring of a babysitter. Without trust, our children don’t learn a very important skill.
For the first four and a half years of motherhood, I trusted. There were play dates and sitters. There was swim school and gymnastics, where I would read a magazine or step out to make a call. I knew my daughter was safe and if she did get hurt, it was likely nothing a kiss and a little snuggle time couldn’t make better.
Until I trusted, and that trust was destroyed. Shattered. Nearly obliterated. Parents like me, don’t have stuff like this happen to them. But it does. And it did. And my heart and soul were crushed. Not destroyed, but crushed beyond recognition. So much so that I questioned how I would be able to put them back together.
It’s been 5 years. Many of the pieces are back in place, but nothing looks the same. Even the most master of craftsmen can not repair damage so that it’s undetectable. I am no master.
For years I have admired the Japanese art of Kintsugi. It is believed this ancient Japanese art dates to the 15th century. Kintsugi means “golden joinery” and is the process of repairing broken ceramic or porcelain with a gold resin which leaves the broken piece often more beautiful with its golden seams.
I’d seen exhibits with these repaired pieces, seemingly highlighting these flaws. Yet, these flawed and damaged pieces were more beautiful and valuable. Each piece was painstakingly reassembled. For some pieces it may take years for the kintsugi master to repair the damage. In the end, though, the piece would be stronger, more beautiful and more admired because of its flaws.
This past weekend a very large piece of my trust was reattached. And it was done so with gold. A golden birthday, actually. A celebration of beauty and perfection that helped to rebuild my trust, with a golden connection.
For most parents, that first sleepover your child has at a friend’s house is a huge milestone. Kids are ready at different times. For over a year I think BabyGirl was ready. But I wasn’t. And because her BFF’s parents are not only amazing people but have actually become friends, they’ve understood that I was the one who wasn’t ready. They were OK with their daughter coming over here and eating like she hadn’t eaten in a week and creating whatever it is she and BabyGirl would create that would require several rolls of various types of tape.
So when BabyGirl came home and shared the grand plans of a birthday sleepover at her BFF’s house, I secretly hoped it would snow here and I wouldn’t be able to drive her over. And given that the last time it snowed in Phoenix was NEVER that wasn’t going to work. The only thing that was going to work was saying “yes” and hoping I wouldn’t die of anxiety when that night would come and I’d drop off my only child to spend the night away from me with someone who was not CycleGuy or Aunt Zoni.
Like parents before me, I survived this childhood rite of passage. Unlike many parents before me, I was broken and working to reconstruct my new normal. But at the moment I walked out and the door closed behind me, I knew my trust had been repaired. There are still some broken parts, but the first piece that was repaired was done so with a kind of kintsugi only a golden birthday could have created.
My trust doesn’t look the same. It’s not pristine and flawless. My trust is shattered but the pieces have been laid out and one by one they will be rejoined and it will be whole again. And possibly more beautiful than it was before it was broken.