Mothering a child is hard. Mothering a child through the loss of a father harder still. The biggest challenge I have faced as I find a way to grieve and heal is to lead my children though the same journey, and support them in their process. There is no normal face of grief on a child, a typical grieving path. I often find myself asking is this normal behavior for my son or is this grieving behavior for my child. The answer is yes. They can no longer be separated for my children. My children will grieve for the rest of their life. Every milestone, every event they must go through the grieving process again. My son has an issue. He has a bathroom issue. Through the journey of trying to do what’s “best”.
I often find myself frustrated and angry. I yell. If I feel like I’m being ignored, I yell louder. I slam doors. I am not proud of my behavior. No matter what I do, nothing changes. He’s in counseling and he loves his school environment. I punish him by taking things away, yet the behavior doesn’t change. I am gentle and supportive, nothing changes. I ignore it and leave him to deal with it, nothing changes. I am at the end of my rope. I am at a loss on how to handle this problem, and I feel like I’ve completely failed him and my husband. I don’t know if this issue is still emotional or if he’s just being lazy. Both? Probably. I meditate for peace, it helps. I do the work on myself, it helps. I get support, it helps. I ask for direction and help anywhere I can: God, John, the universe, friends, family. I allow myself to be lead to answers.Today I’m reading “Broken Open” by Elizabeth Lesser (which I highly recommend). I read a passage and it hits me.
“Could they bear the pain of seeing their child suffer? Could their hearts stay open and soft?” I know this already, but it hit me in a new way. As parents we want to take away the pain for our children. We can’t bear to see them hurt. It’s too much. I learned that I cannot take my son’s pain from him. He must learn to bear it, and I must learn to watch it and love him through it. Words do not teach, only life experience does. My son learns to grieve by the example I set for him. If he sees that I can not bear to see him in pain, he will not show it to me. He will stuff it, hide it, and pretend it doesn’t exist to protect me. Inside it will begin to eat away at him, making him ill. Life is painful, we can not change that or hide from it. What we can do is learn how to experience pain in the moment so we don’t have to suffer for a lifetime. It is the gift I want to offer my children. The ability to experience their emotions. I want to raise emotionally aware men who know the ups and downs of life and can find peace and joy in all of it. So when my son is crying for some seemingly silly thing, I try to remember not to shush him, but to hold the space so he can let it out. I know when we cry it’s not always for what’s happening in the moment. Sometimes trigger us and the flood gates are opened. My job is not to slam them shut nor to hold them open. My job is simply to sit with the flood and be there still when it recedes.
I don’t normally do New Years resolutions but I heard of a New Year vision. As part of my New Year vision for myself I want to remain open and soft to all things. To be fully present in the moment. To experience what I am going through in it’s entirety. This moment is all we have. None are wasted and none are bad. I also want to remain open and soft to my children, to help them navigate their challenges.I know that my heart hardened to my children after my husband died. I had to protect my broken heart because they are the only ones who could hurt me as much as losing my husband. I have been finding ways to reconnect, become vulnerable to them, and let the love in. I know this is the next step in that process. When I trust and believe I am always shown the way. Love will always find a way.