If a stranger passing us on the street were to give a casual glance in our direction he would probably see you the picture of a Mama with her healthy, sweet little boy, who looks about six years old. Perhaps the stranger would think my son was a bit on the clingy side, and chuckle to himself about the "mama's boy" before turning his attention elsewhere. Those of you who know him a bit better aren't particularly fooled by that image. The more informed in the group know that my baby is not actually six, but nine, and the clingy-ness that is so prevalent as I bustle around town is actually his very best attempt at keeping his act together until he can get home and have a proper meltdown in private.
Looking at my son, it is not obvious that he is trapped inside a cage. But he is. A cage constructed from fear, anxiety, disregulation, and anger. While true, it is not obvious that he is is fighting for his life as he attempts to claw his way out of his bondage using whatever tools he has available, which sadly, is usually cuddle time with Mom.
Its easy to feel pity on my son. My poor baby with the sad social history. Years of neglect and abuse all built up to make him a basket case. Boo hoo. But I think if we look closer at his situation we might see a reflection of ourselves in his behavior. Perhaps if we study little Max's reality we could admit to ourselves that he's not all that different than we are. This little guy clings to his mother as a security net. His somewhat pathetic, imperfect Mama who quite often has no desire to hold him, especially when we're out in public. We can all see that while my nurturing does help, I'm not the key to freeing him from his cage. As much as I wish I could, I can not make my son's issues leave him alone. Trust me, I've tried.
And isn't that so stinking typical? Aren't we all a little guilty of reaching for something concrete to cling to when the realities of life feel like an oppressive cage? Clinging to imperfect people or objects that really can't free us from whatever binds us? In the same way I'll never be the key to unlocking my son's cage, those chili cheese fries will never unlock you from yours.
And isn't it so easy for us to see the flaws in my son's thinking patterns, while turning a blind eye to our own silly notions? I like to think that Jesus sends us these special kids for moments such as these. I can just hear Him chuckling over me as I make these connections. Mama, you might think your little boy is silly for acting that way, but why on earth are you trying to drown your troubles with those mint m&m's? Silly silly girl.
Sorry Jesus. I forget sometimes that you're the one holding the keys to my freedom. My m&ms are pretty tasty, but their main flaw is that those packages just aren't big enough to make my yuck go away. Thank you for being bigger than candy. Amen.