Every challenge we face with our child is a chance to move closer together or farther apart.
My son had a rough evening. For his privacy I won’t be sharing the details. It was a hard thing to witness as his mother. He is far to big for me to contain him like I used to when the world got rough around him. And he’s independent enough to not necessarily want me to try and contain him.
Emerging from child to teenager is a most challenging process. To see the world through these eyes of understanding that show just have close and far away pure independence is. To see how little control you have over the bigger elements of life, the money you have access to, the location of where you live, your ability to get to the places you long to visit.
Their understanding of how the world works is maturing at an accelerated rate, while their emotional maturity is desperate to be in the same place. It’s a torture really. I remember.
Not to mention there are all those new hormones that are showing up on unpredictable days at rates and doses 100 percent outside of their control!
When all of these things arrive with a side of sleeplessness or life emotions that on a regular day are challenging the world can feel like a most unfair and dismal place to be in.
I know this as an adult and have created a long list of coping mechanisms over the years to help myself out. While also failing miserably at moving past these days with any sense of grace or composure. So it makes sense that my child, first experiencing all of this would need some time, some space and an overflowing bucket of patience.
It is natural as his mom that I want to fix it, make it go away. Truth be told that is simply because I don’t want to feel this uncomfortable anymore so if he could just speed things along so I can return to calmer ground, I would prefer that. Reality though, it’s his process and I need to step aside and deal with my own shit on my own time.
When I take away my child’s power to express his emotions, I push myself out of his world. I send the message that there is something wrong with him. That he is in need of fixing or at the very least that he is getting in the way of my life.
When I step back and create a safe space for his process to unfold, I remain in his inner circle. The trusting place where he is free to show up exactly how he is and express the most frightening of thoughts that are inevitably going to pass through his mind.
When I listen without judgement, I embrace all the parts of his emerging self. I believe in him all of him. I witness, without words, the unfolding of the pieces he struggles with. I send the message, with my silence and compassion, that he is surrounded with love. Especially, in the scary places. This opens the door for all of these emotions to MOVE. To find their way out. There is no shame. Only emotions, feelings of the hugest sort finding their way through to a place that eventually makes sense (or simple calms down enough to be manageable).
It’s not easy. I write this after two glasses of wine, 8 hours of sleep and recovered cuddles with a boy who thanked me for loving him “even when I make it hard.” But there truly is no other option because with each challenge, I want our relationship to strengthen not weaken. And that can only happen, if I listen more, talk less and embrace every part of this complex human being unfolding in front of me.