This wasn’t the best of weeks with my teen. Something had been building within him, I could see it and feel, but I didn’t know what it was about, and I still don’t.
But it finally erupted and it was not pretty. There was some yelling, very harsh and hurtful words, some foul language being thrown about, which resulted in me losing control. And as soon as I did, I was awash with the feelings of shame and disappointment in myself.
I beat myself up. I worked so hard to not be the “old me”, the person who would retaliate just as quickly as it was lobbed at me. I got worn down and let the nasty back in for that split second, and I had to sit with my uncomfortable-ness the entire day. I was just at my limit. Why did I have to continue to be the intended target of all his frustration and uncertainty. It hit me hard this time and I snapped. I was now entering into a shame spiral.
I dug deep and tried to channel all I had learned these past few years. I immediately started to work “my process”, which can often include anyone of these go to’s for me: talking with my husband, a session with my therapist, some support from friends in the know, or reaching out to my parent coach.
This one was bad, I had to tap into all my resources in the same day. Shame will do that to a person, well at least it does it to me.
Toward the end of the day, I managed to connected with one very wise friend who had traveled the same path as my family. He started to talk about all the good the boys gained from their experiences, even though they were tough, and now in retrospect that they see parts of their journey as memorable in a positive way. I then brought up the ill-fated subject of comparison.
I am well aware of Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and generally I agree that comparison will get you no where but deeper down the proverbial black hole.
However in this case, the comparison was to point out, even though today wasn’t my finest moment, look at what a difference a couple of years makes. Simply explained, today might be a 6 on the shit scale, but a year ago it was a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10.
I then commented that we gave such a gift to our kids when we made the decision to get them help outside the home, in both wilderness and residential care. They were literally plucked up out of their lives and dumped in a new environment, an opportunity to have a redo.
They had a fresh start, no one knew of their past escapades, there was no history, nothing they were clean slates for the writing. They also had no responsibilities like spouses, school, jobs, or family to worry about. Their only job was to focus on themselves, their emotions, and getting to a place they could exist on a healthy platform.
We gave them the gift of time, space, and freedom to process, without distraction or concern for anything or anyone but themselves. They needed our guidance and permission to be what some would consider selfish; only caring for themselves. They could explore every feeling and emotion that hit their brains and work the process as long as it took. I will never be sorry for that.
Yesterday, I was jealous of that, truly jealous. I would love to step out of my life and spend months working on me, without any external worries. But we all know as parents, spouses, employees, that is not really an option and we will never have that luxury again.
So while many parents would be horrified at what I and many other parents have resorted to for our children, it was clearly pointed out to me that we gave our kids a gift, lasting memories of clear thinking, bonded relationships, and the ability to rise from the ashes. And without a doubt they and we are better for it.
I realize now even back at home they need time and space to figure stuff out, and that may mean not talking to me for a day, or having the time to process thoughts and emotions without mom hounding them as to what is wrong. It might mean a gap year, or gap semester. Who knows, I certainly don’t. But I do know that allowing some space and time will rarely damage a relationship.
I am striving to provide space and time on a daily basis to my kids. I need to allow them down time in this crazy fast paced frenetic world of constant and instant access.
Do you provide space and downtime for your kids? And what about yourself? Take a day and see how much better it feels and then see if you can provide some of that grace to our over-stressed kids.
Sometimes it just takes someone else to share a different view to help you put things in perspective and so you can “snap out of it”, and get back on track.
Love you DW. You continue to provide insight, peace, calm, and support.
If you enjoyed this post don’t forget to Subscribe, Like, Share and Comment!