On Loving My Son

My relationship with my son is different than my relationship with my daughter. They are different children, though I love them both with the same intensity and I enjoy them both in so many different ways, Alexander and I are on a see saw right now.

Alexander delights, he’s the boy that makes everyone grin. He’s got a gravelly voice and inquisitive eyes, he’s full of questions and jokes and fairly brims with boyish delight.

Alexander stores data. He is the family historian in that he recalls absolutely everything we do and say, he knows what we ate, where we went and who was with us. Alexander also recalls every slight. He doesn’t let you know at the moment that you’ve hurt him, but every now and again it comes tumbling out of his body with accusations, tears and very real pain.

These episodes are often when we are smack dab in the middle of something difficult and unrelated. Learning how to cut a cloud out of a piece of paper may bring tears and a tirade of, “you never respect me”.

And I… I am so wound up in my need to be a “good mother” that I find myself unable to really hear my son. As he’s crying and letting it all out what he’s really saying is that there was a collection of slights and he needs an apology and he needs help cutting out the clouds. He’s overwhelmed by the physical work and he needs a teammate.

I don’t want an eight year old yelling at me. Ever. I want him to do his homework. I want him to say thank you.

It can’t happen. My needs won’t be met, and I have to adjust them.

I’m learning that my son is the kid who bottles it up and then melts down alone, at home, where it’s safe. My son still loves me and I’ll always love him. I love him with his strengths and with his weaknesses. Loving Alexander means being still and letting him fall apart a little, because he is still so little.

When he does it a little piece of me just falls apart. I’m not very good at this part of mothering, but I don’t have the luxury of time. So now, right at this very moment I’m going to have to be a better mother to my boy.

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  1. Jessica, I can really relate. Sometimes, it’s all I can do not to beg, “Don’t cry! Don’t cry!” But I know I’m being selfish, so I force myself to listen to those tears even though it is painful. I had no idea that letting my kids cry would be one of the most challenging parts of mothering.

  2. I have found that it helps when they hear that you can “relate” to their pain and that yes, you ARE listening to them. You HEAR them. Let them cry, let them get it out. Their home is their safe place, their refuge, where they can let it all hang out. Stop cutting the clouds, sit with him and just “be” in the moment. Don’t try to stop it, correct it, comment on it, etc. Let it “happen”

    Also, they learn by example in many ways. When you are feeling an emotion, be verbal about it. Tell them you are angry, scared, frightened, etc. This may help them learn to verbalize things and deal with them when they happen. I have two that bottle everything up and a third that is so darn verbal about his feelings, we don’t quite know what to do with him.

    The hardest part of being a parent is seeing your child in pain. It hurts to the core. Deep breathes & one day at a time is all I can say.

  3. For me, it’s when Riley shuts down. She won’t cry, she won’t yell, she’ll just emotionally shell herself up like a turtle. SO different than her sister (or me), and I still can’t wrap my head around how to deal with it. But I’m starting to think maybe I should just let her be and come out when she’s ready.

  4. Alexander also recalls every slight.

    That resonated with me because that is me and my son. I have spent 40 years trying to learn how to forget/ignore who did me wrong, at least when it comes to the small stuff.

    And when I watch my son struggle with some of these things it just kills me. That is not a trait I wanted to pass on, but he is going to have to figure out how to deal with it. All I can do is support him and try to show him how I did it. But how I did it may not work, so…

    It is not easy watching the kids fight to get through these things, but some how they do.

  5. You are such a good mom Jessica…I think one of the hardest things as a parent is to let kids feel without trying to fix it. to listen, without having an opinion. to hug without giving words and sometimes that’s what they need. I also have found that 99% of the time that my kids have yelled at me, it’s really not about me…it’s about something that happened at school or with friends. We are often their sounding board and before you take it personal, remember that it’s probably not about you. xoxox

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