Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Another Day, Another Failure

I've been wrestling for a while now with my inability to keep my temper in the morning while I drive my son to school.  We pulled our son from public school last year, after a traumatic end to the year which resulted in our son being expelled.  We had concerns previously about having our son in public school and the influences he was exposed to there.  Certainly it doesn't just apply to our son, but those who are familiar with our situation know why we chose to remove just our son from the public school system.  This year he has been attending a private Catholic school in the area.  In order to ensure that our youngest has someone there to see her safely on the bus in the morning, I have been the one primarily responsible for taking our son to school each morning.

I'm not going to lie.  It has been a strain on our relationship.  It is only recently that I have begun trying to evaluate what is causing the tension, and I feel like I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, after yet another morning that sent my son to school mad and left me in tears.

I believe the problem is two-sided.  One being my inability to relate to people first thing in the morning.  Or rather, my dislike of basically have any interaction with people shortly after I wake up.  I can't explain it, but I do acknowledge that this is an issue for me.  I'm not a morning person in any way.  I'd be happy if my morning started out at 11AM, or if I could have a good three hours completely to myself as soon as I wake up in the morning.  I have this need for solitude.  I try to determine what on earth is wrong with me that I would be annoyed with my husband for telling me he loves me or to have a good day in the morning and my lack of a desire to say it back to him.  I thought that perhaps it was resentment of him saying those things while he's half awake, still laying in bed, while I'm rushing off to get our son to school.  But the reality is that even if I didn't have to take anyone anywhere, I'd be annoyed with him trying to be loving before I've had a chance to soak in some silence.  Yes--I realize I have a problem.

The other side of the problem is my son.  Given his emotional issues and difficulty controlling his actions that stem from his own annoyances, we go head to head more often than not.  Perhaps my son is like me.  Perhaps he needs that quiet and solitude in the mornings too.  It wouldn't surprise me.  Over the years, I have come to understand that in so many ways, his emotions and how he approaches life very closely mirrors my own.

As I pulled away today regretting my words and once again in tears, I thought, "Maybe we should just institute a no talking rule on the way to school."  Because I was putting pieces together and finally beginning to understand more about myself and how I interact with those closest to me, and how I almost hate interacting with people first thing in the morning.  If I was silent, and he was silent, it stands to reason that he wouldn't be rude or disrespectful and I wouldn't harp on him the entire drive in response.  Sounds reasonable, right?

Today was one of those days where I texted my husband and told him that it was days like this that made me want to give up.  Not on God or anything so extreme.  Really the meaning behind it was this:  I wanted to give up on trying to be the kind of mother I want to be, because it's not working.

Mom guilt.

I've talked about it before, and I experience it far more often than I'd like.

And today was the worst it's been in a while.  Not because the guilt was unwarranted.  I think that was the problem.  It was.  I messed up.  I said some things I regret to my thirteen year old son, and we left things unresolved.  He went to school upset and thinking who knows what, and I went to work crying and feeling like an utter failure as a parent.

My fear and paranoia over the years has left me with this need to make sure that when I part ways with my husband or kids, I tell them I love them.  I try to encourage them to do the same, because we do not know what tomorrow holds.  We do not know if we are going to live beyond the present moment.

And today, I took my fear and I heaped it upon my son as he was getting out of the car.  I feel awful about it, and there was nothing I could do to fix it.  In fact, I can't even get closure on it or resolution until after I get home this evening.  Tuesday and Thursday are the two days that I don't pick my son up from school, so it'll be 6:30 before I can talk to my son and apologize for my words spoken in frustration.

And as embarrassing or shameful as it is, I want to share with you what I said to my son, because I want you to know that if you have ever said or done something like this, you are not alone.

Outside of calling my son immature on the drive to school, on top of nearly accusing him of being different from every other person in the world due to his tendency to always mimic sounds that annoy him (which is what caused the fight this morning to begin with), I left my son with some words I regret.

I have spent the majority of my time as a parent determined NOT to say anything that will cause my children to blame themselves for my mistakes.  I try to build them up and work very hard not to criticize them in a way that shames them or leaves them feeling like they are worthless.  Having spent much of my life feeling unworthy in so many aspects, I did not want that for my kids.  So I don't call my kids stupid.  And I don't tell them they are overweight.  I make an effort to say things in a way that teaches them if they are in the wrong without demeaning them.

I can count on one hand the times I have lost it so completely that I spoke words that I knew would harm my children.  Today, I add another to that list.

I didn't want my son to get out of the car without hearing me say I love him.  I knew he wasn't in a place to receive it, but if something happened to me after I dropped him off, I wanted those to be the last words he heard from me.

So, as I always do, especially when we've found on the drive to school, I told him that I loved him and I hoped he had a good day.  And as usual, with a somber, sullen expression on his face, my son got out of the car, with no intention of responding in any way to what I had just said.  And I get it.  If Kris and I are fighting and he has to leave and tells me he loves me before I feel like things are resolved in my spirit, quite honestly, I don't believe him.  In that moment.  I can know it's true, maybe but I'm not in a place where I receive it and accept it.  Because I just need some time to process things and cool off.  I still want him to say it, but I struggle with really hearing his heart in those moments.  And I think my son is the same way.

Today, though, having been pushed to the brink by his sullen attitude and disrespectful responses to me prior to that moment, I stopped him before he shut the door.  He looked back and I told him again that I loved him and as he started to move away and shut the door, I uttered words I wish I could take back.

My voice dripping with sarcasm, I said, "I hope I don't die or anything and you don't ever get another chance to tell me that you love me."

Have you ever said anything like that?  Or something worse?  To your own flesh and blood?

In that moment, as the words escaped my mouth and he shut the door and went into the building, guilt plagued my soul.  I knew immediately I should never have said them.  Knowing also that my son is a lot like me, I knew that he would internalize those words.  And that if something were to happen to me, he would remember them and would have a very hard time forgiving himself.

I don't think we even realize the ability we have within ourselves to be cruel sometimes.

And as shameful as it is to admit here the words spoken out of fear and anger and frustration, it was even harder sharing those words with my husband over lunch today.  Far worse, is the internal struggle I have to refute the lies that the devil loves to bombard my mind with.  My tendency to belittle myself and allow guilt and shame to overtake me is strong, especially in moments like this.

I spent the drive to work and the first two and a half hours of my shift listening to music, in silent prayer for forgiveness, as well as to calm my spirit and tune out the enemy and his whispers.  I am not a perfect person, clearly.  I am most certainly not a perfect mother.  As much as I love my kids, they try my patience like nothing else.

But do you know what I am?

I am loved by the perfect Father.

I am forgiven for even the words I speak that cause harm to those I love.

I am being made new.

I am learning to acknowledge the mistakes I make, seek forgiveness, and move forward.

I am so much more than I believe myself to be.

Because I am His.

And that?

That makes me eternally grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment