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.