There is a pretty famous quote about parenthood that says that when you have a child you make a choice to forever walk around with your heart outside of your body. Like Tin Men in the Wizard of Oz we walk around fearful of the things that can happen to our hearts when they move outside of our field of vision. A lonely little heart out there all on his own. Does he miss me? Is he safe? How can my heart be expected to survive without me? And then we find people who can hold our hearts for safe keeping. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and trusted child care providers. We wonder if we have made the right choice. Will she protect my heart? Will my heart be safe with him? Some of us are devastated to learn that answer to those questions was no. And that is the haunting part of having your heart walk around outside of your body. The horror of the possibility of that reality is enough to keep the rest of us up at night with worry.
I've been lucky enough to answer only yes to those questions. My heart has travelled to different cities and gone on many adventures beyond my view. And he has remained safe and protected. And now that I understand what it means to hand over your heart to another person for safe keeping I take it as an honour to be allowed to protect someone else's heart.
Jordan, or DieDie as Mac for some reason only intelligible to toddlers calls him, is someone else's heart. Sometimes his parents hand him over to me for safe-keeping. Those are Mac's favorite days. Each morning he wakes up and asks DieDie? DieDie? and if I have to tell him that there is no DieDie today his little heart breaks. For a minute until a truck or a cookie gets his attention.
So I cuddle him, that heart that belongs to someone else, and I love him like I would my own heart.
This week DieDie's mom is gone on a much needed and much deserved vacation. And as much as I know she is looking forward to the drinks and the beach and the sun and drinks, I also know that it will be difficult to board a plane without her heart. So before she left I helped Jordan to write a letter to his mom.
Enjoy the beach Amy! Your heart will be here safe and sound when you get back!