This week has been full of ups and downs. I took the kids camping alone with some homeschooling friends. It was their first time really camping. Between being on-call for births for 9 years and then being pregnant and having a small baby/toddler, camping just never happened for our family. But, the kids loved it and we’ll be going again very soon. I’m taking them camping for four nights to fiddle camp in a few weeks, and then we’ll be taking a family camping trip in August sometime. (We need a pet sitter, though, so if you are local to me and know someone , let me know!)
The camping was good.
It was the recovery that was hard. Of course, we had the usual mess to put away, laundry to clean, and sleep to catch up on, but it was the meltdowns that were trying. I assumed that my oldest, I., would not have any issues once we got home since he seemed just fine during our trip. How wrong I was…
It may have been the break in his usual rhythm, or the lack of sleep, or something else. I don’t know. Within about an hour of being home, he totally lost it at his brother and then spent the rest of the evening angry at everything and lashing out at everyone.
I spent a good part of the night crying. I know my own thoughts are what cause me the most anguish. Thinking about how he’s 12, and we are still dealing with his lack of control of his words; worrying that it’ll never get better; feeling like I can’t take him anywhere since the meltdown just isn’t worth it; even wondering in what ways have I screwed up so that my 12 year old can’t handle life.
But. But, I have to lift my head out of the vat of those kinds of thoughts. It took a while, though.
When I went to say goodnight and talk about everything, he said something that triggered me all over again. I went to sleep devastated to have heard him say that he can’t change, that this is just how he is.
Thankfully, when I woke the next morning, my head was clearer and I realized something important. He said that because he doesn’t believe he can change, not because he doesn’t want to change. Such a simple shift in how I saw his statement, but it really helped me to have perspective.
Perspective to realize that my job is to hold the space for him, and never waiver from affirming to him that he can change and it will happen. When I told him later that morning that I know he can change, he sadly said, “You think so?”
I know I have to believe in him enough to not give up on him.
This is hard at times. I have three children whom I love desperately. When one is attacking another, even with words, it takes every bit of commitment and effort from me to not lose it at the offender. Because, he’s also still my baby. I can remember holding him when he was seconds old. The desire to protect the other children is so strong, though. And I must protect them. But not at the expense of the offending child. Because I know all too well that when he’s acting like that, it’s because he feels bad inside, and the meaner he is to his siblings, the worse about himself he feels. The last thing he needs is me to tell him (or convey to him without saying it directly) is that he is bad. That is throwing gasoline on a fire.
I don’t always succeed. I’m human. I have my moments, or days, even, when I miss the mark. But this is where self-compassion comes in. And forgiveness. Forgiveness for myself and towards him. That’s where I’m at today. Remembering that in the end, all there is is love and I can return to a place of love anytime. Letting go of thoughts of the past (what he’s done) or worries of the future (what if he never changes?) is the most loving thing I can do.
Be here now. That’s all.