R-E-S-P-E-C-T

My one son reminds me of his dad (the ex) lately. It is as if the wound that I thought I had healed is splitting wide open with the stabbing accuracy of his tone of voice and the utter feeling of disrespect I am experiencing by our talks. And Mama isn’t tolerating it anymore.

I have kept a quiet tongue in my mouth for I understand he is stressed out by school, girlfriend, work and whatever else that he’s not telling me. But his quick rise to anger which is not normal is triggering my own fight for respect in the relationship. Because seriously? He lives under my roof and I will not feel like I am walking on eggshells in my own home, especially when I am the one footing the bills.

Whatever has him in such a tizzy isn’t healthy. I don’t know whether it’s the girlfriend issues or whatever else he has on his plate, but I suspect he’s angry with himself and whomever else (probably me as well) and it’s seething over into our conversations.

Because as his father used to do, he is blaming me for his own stuff. And what used to happen was that I fell apart when I was with the ex. Falling all over him (my husband at the time) to make things better for him. But no more. I’ve gotten healthy and the ex is out of my life. But the kid here isn’t out of my life and is acting like a thorn in my side. Pinching and prickling with his seething anger and it’s pushing on my tender spot.

Why haven’t I confronted him yet? Are you wondering why I haven’t simply hauled off and let him have it verbally?

Because I know my kid. While embarrassingly enough I’ll admit that in the past I have met his little outbursts with my own, matching him in angry, louder retorts, but that got nowhere. In fact, it felt inauthentic and it ended up scaring us both because he’d never seen me that way. And I didn’t like who I was in that moment of anger.

So after this morning’s little episode, I stayed quiet. Calm and unaffected by his little outburst which was precipitated by being asked to go into work earlier than expected because someone had called out sick. I gave him a suggestion as to how to navigate the situation and left him to process it however he wanted.

About an hour later, he came downstairs and asked me a question, but his tone of voice still had that edge to it. So I repeated his question in a nice way and added please to it, looking at him expectantly to repeat it. And the funny thing is that it worked. He repeated it although begrudgingly. And when I went to help him with what he was asking about, this is what I told him in a calm manner.

“I do not like the way you have been speaking to me and I will not tolerate such behavior in our home. I will not feel uncomfortable here. We have worked hard to make our home a safe and loving place and I will not have that changed nor interrupted. If you are angry with me, then speak your mind in a nice way. If you are frustrated with something or someone else and you want help, I am here for you. But this will not continue any longer.”

While he is much taller than I am, I made sure to be standing on a step above him so that we were eye to eye. I didn’t say it in an angry way, but in a calm voice that commanded authority. Because I am Mom and while I will allow us all to ‘vote’ on many things here at home, I am still the boss.

He held my gaze for a long time. We looked at each other for a few minutes and then he lowered his eyes. I stayed looking at him and when he looked back up he said, “Mom I’m sorry. You should never be uncomfortable in our home. I apologize for being such a jerk. You’re right. I’m overwhelmed and stressed out. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

I reached out and hugged him to me. He laid his head on my shoulder (which is only because I was still standing on the step) and held me tightly. I allowed him to be the one to release the hug first. I kissed him on the cheek and proceeded to help him with his original question.

Why am I telling you this? Because sometimes we have to see the big picture and not be so tightly wound that we immediately react negatively to someone when it isn’t their characteristic way of being. My kid isn’t normally a disrespective grouch so I’ve known for the last few days he’s been stressed. But because he wouldn’t tell me, and told me to stop asking if he was ok, I let him be. I didn’t over-mother him or try to make it all ok like I used to do with his dad. I let him work it out. But when the disrespectful attitude and tone of voice amped up, that was it for me and I spoke up.

Because I don’t deserve that treatment and while he knew it, he wasn’t able to control himself. But I think that self-control is a good characteristic to cultivate, to practice and to learn. While we may want to have a temper tantrum and throw all of our toys out of the crib every once in a while, it isn’t healthy when we are affecting others.

It’s a process to raise good sons to hopefully have them be good husbands and human beings. I realized that my own life journey was filled with men (dad and ex) who I allowed authority over me, but that is not what I want my kids to think is their right.

We are a partnership here and family has been a solid, loving, supportive, kind, caring living part of our life after the divorce. We are family….and that says it all.

This entry was posted in divorce, finding happiness at 50 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to R-E-S-P-E-C-T

  1. bone&silver says:

    You are a LEGEND!
    Well done Mum ā¤ļø xx

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  2. scr4pl80 says:

    Good job! I know that I have pampered to my husband when he was in a snit about something and had the kids do the same, which of course in hindsight was not good for anyone, including dad because then he came to expect it. There are many things I wish I had done differently and that I know now affected the kids much more than I realized. Just wanted you to know that this happens in lots of families, even ones where the marriage is still together. You did a great job talking with your son like that.

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    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you so very much for sharing. I wrote about it because I do think it’s more commonplace than we realize. And while being extra kind to someone whose had a bad day is normal, what I used to do was not. And it was a hard habit to break because above all I wanted them to love me, find me worthy etc. I’ve come a long way…still have some ways to go, but getting better everyday!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ainsobriety says:

    That is amazing mothering.
    I totally get you. My codependency with ex was very strong, and occasionally I repeat the behaviour with both my kids.

    I love this. Honest and non personal discussions really do work.
    šŸ‘šŸ‘šŸ‘

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    • janieleeds says:

      It was a relief that we were able to talk the way we did afterwards. Thanks Anne. I was grateful that my instinct was the right way to proceed and the little reminder from my childhood/marriage and co-dependency was a good marker of how far I’ve come…and still have to go! ā¤ļø

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw I loved to read this. ā¤

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  5. petespringerauthor says:

    As someone who taught thirty-one years in elementary school and learned from my mistakes, I found that speaking in a calm but straight-forward manner often had the best success. Not only do you get your point across, but you are teaching your child (even though he’s a young adult) a better way to handle situations.

    Not to excuse your son’s behavior, but if he was out on his own and is now living at home (due to COVID), that is a hard adjustment for any young person. It sounds like you handled this situation perfectly, Janie.

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    • janieleeds says:

      Thanks Pete! I did my best to try to remain clam and speak from the heart. The word ‘uncomfortable’ flowed from me and it was that word that made him uncomfortable and not defensive. I believe it’s all in the way we reach across to someone else that makes the difference in how they respond. Thank you!

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  6. TJ Fox says:

    Good for you for standing up for yourself in a healthy way. It is so incredibly hard to see the attitude and behaviors that were abhorrent to you in your partner being mimicked by your child. Especially when you felt like you were finally free of those things. It puts you in such a difficult position because you simply cannot handle the situation the same. There are things you can say and do with a partner that you must handle differently with your child. I truly hope that your son takes this onboard and uses it as a lesson to change his behavior.

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  7. A mother to 2 grown girls, but whom are still resting in my nest, I felt your strength as well as your mama compassion. Got 2 tears rolling down each cheek as well … because the moment you hugged your son, we mamas all understood down to our core. Having dealt with a short fuse myself, when my girls were little, I too am finding the calm firmness is so much more rewarding and beneficial to everyone.

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    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you so very much for your kind words and for sharing. Motherhood isn’t always easy and we do our best with what we have, but I love that calm firmness works so well for many of us! Have a wonderful day with your girls!

      Like

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