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When being a good parent hurts your heart (from 9/14/15)

Being a young teen in a split family in which one-half has remarried and acquired additional kids stinks.  At least it does for my young teen in our split family in which the-other-half has remarried and has acquired additional kids.  Nothing untoward has happened, and nothing crazy, and I can actually say that I like his stepmother fine, but my 13-year old has a predictably small view of the world and is devastated by his dad’s choices on a daily basis.  Yesterday, post-baseball game, after sharing that he was annoyed that his step-brother (younger) wants to be a character from his (B’s) favorite Xbox game (Destiny), he was surprised to have both me and Mom2 (his friend’s mom and his mom’s friend) say that this annoyance was classic big brother/little brother stuff, and that he should reframe it, because this kid and he might do well to support one another in a situation for which neither asked. He argued briefly, then, clearly outnumbered and out-communicated, he dropped it and moved to something else, doing so with relative ease: resignation, perhaps.

Several hours later, though, I was sitting quietly in my armchair when he draped himself from one arm of the chair (on which he laid his head) to the other arm (on which his curled-up legs rested), snuggled the rest of himself in the fetal position down into my lap, and began to cry.  He said, “Dad promised me he wouldn’t marry her, then he did.”  Keep in mind, dear reader, that his father and stepmother will have been together now for several years, and married for at least a year.  I listened to what he had to say, and then I told him that I hadn’t been there to know exactly what was said or meant, but that, regardless, the whole situation was not his fault, nor was it particularly fair, nor was it going away.  I told him that I hoped that he could work on forgiving his dad, not because it was his job to do so, but because I thought that he might someday really want to have a relationship with his dad, even if he didn’t feel like it just now.  I stroked his hair back from his face and told him that I loved him.

Eventually, he untangled himself and got ready for bed. He then re-joined me (standing this time) and asked me for what I was thankful.  I glanced towards the kitchen with a grin, and he said, “Oh yeah – the dishwasher – of course!” (a new one, having been delivered the day before).  I returned the question to him, wondering what he’d say after this stressful day.  He paused, looking off into the middle distance for a moment, then he said “My game, and that you helped me get it”, referring to an apparently epic Destiny update he’s had for a few days.

This is heartbreaking stuff for a momma.  The job of setting your own emotional reactions aside and looking out to the future to what you hope your circumstances might evolve in order to inform your current responses can be daunting.  And while it’s daunting, it is the grown-up thing to do and is a hell-of-a teaching moment with your child about how to handle disappointment, disagreement, and a feeling of rejection.  And so I do it.  I’m really, really, thankful that he doesn’t dismiss his moms’ thoughts and advice, and I’m equally thankful for the Mom2 back-up.  This won’t be the last I’ll hear about this, but I think he will at least think about, and will trust, our words and our love in offering them.

Blessed be.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Toothaches and heartaches

It has been an emotional afternoon.

Poor B had two baby teeth pulled today, and is due for two more, to make way for permanent teeth to come in in a more orderly fashion. He held it together at the dentist’s office until he came out and saw me, and then the pent up anxiety came rushing forward – he burst into tears, and needed to get outside for some air. I was trying to comfort him and pack up my bags and listen to the dental assistant’s post-procedure instructions when I heard her say “I don’t know what happened – he was such a good patient when he was back in the room”. Now, this could be interpreted several ways, but setting aside the possible finger-pointing, does she really not know that painful dental work is stressful, especially to a child? If he hadn’t needed me, I might just have reminded her right there in the waiting room in front of the after school crowd.

But I digress. We came home and he continued to be very upset, so I called his dad and asked him to come visit with some Swedish Fish water ice. This was just the trick. The water ice gave him a tasty reason to focus on getting his mouth back in working order, and his dad checking on him helped, too, I think.

At bedtime, while I got B set up to sleep comfortably, he said that he never trusted what his dad said about things like getting a tooth pulled; that his dad had told him it would pinch a little and would then be fine. This is a topic he has been been raising a lot lately – not being able to trust what his dad says – and I have mostly been listening without contributing because I haven’t figured out if there is a way for me to help. It was perfect timing that B, then, asked for what I was thankful, and I was able to say “I’m thankful to your dad for bringing you water ice and cheering you up this afternoon”. He audibly choked, and asked “Why do I want to cry?” Tears sprang to my eyes. I told him that sometimes, when I feel sad, I don’t actually cry until someone dear to me reminds me they love me. I waited until he quieted, and then I asked for what he was thankful. “For my old favorite yo-yo string that broke. Not because it broke, though.” “For all the good times you had?” I asked. “Yeah”, he said wistfully.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Worrrrds

Last night, at our bedtime chalice lighting, B was thankful for muscles, initially. Then he suddenly exclaimed “No! No wait! Worrrrds. I’m thankful for words! Did you know there are more than 3000 words in a book?”

Me, ignoring the fact he hadn’t specified a particular book: “Are there? Total, or different words?”

Him: “Different.”

Me: “How do you know?”

Him: “There must be!”

When I kissed his cheek goodnight, I noticed, and commented, that his cheek was salty, assuming this was true from a sweaty baseball practice. He said “Yeah, I was crying.” He had cried at his dad’s house earlier when his dad told him that his dad’s girlfriend and her kids would move in this summer. B was sad and angry, but he wasn’t surprised; he knew it was going to happen, but the longer it had been discussed without happening, the less real it had seemed. B likes his dad’s girlfriend well enough, as do I, and her kids, but he doesn’t want to share his dad – his time, his physical space, or his love. I held B close and told him quietly that his dad’s love for his girlfriend wouldn’t take anything away from his love for B, because you can’t subtract from a parent’s love. He didn’t respond, so after a while I asked “Do you believe me?”. He answered a noncommittal “Okay”.

Oh, heavy heart, heavy heart. A good time to remember gratitude. As I blew out the chalice to send him off to sleep, I told him I was thankful for the words “I love you”.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Do you hear that voice?

When I picked B up from afterschool care, an experienced and loving teacher made a point of pulling B aside and asking him in front of me if he understood why she had separated him from another boy earlier in the afternoon when the two were apparently deciding not to do their homework during homework hour. He was a deer-in-the-headlights; poor kid, after all the commotion last night I’m sure he was feeling pretty beat up. But then, god love her, the teacher said “I separated you because you weren’t listening to your own voice, and I knew that because you were making a choice I knew you knew wasn’t the right one.” As she talked, B’s head dropped lower and lower, and the tears began to fall. She bent down and looked into his eyes, reminded him of several good decisions he had just made when he had listened to his own voice, and she told him she loved him. At which point I began to cry.

After lighting the chalice tonight, when I first asked B for what he was thankful, he initially shrugged. I allowed a few minutes of quietness to fall before offering that I was thankful for his afterschool teacher, for the love she had for him, and for the help she gives us both by being a loving guide when I can’t be there. After a few more moments of silence B said “Doorknobs”. “You’re thankful for doorknobs?”. “Yeah”, he said. “They’re helpful.”

Well, whether B can admit to it or not, truly, what a gift to have someone believe in your child enough to tell him to knock it off in a way that guides him back to his conscience and away from external rules. What a gift for me to feel so supported as a parent.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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