For the first time in six years I said something to my child that I deeply regretted, even as it was forming in my sour mouth, I knew I didn’t want it to spill out. It wasn’t a bit of mom shame or something that would come back to bite me later. It was a phrase that I had a whole hearted commitment against. That is where the scourge presented itself.
“What is the matter with you?!?!”
I have committed to myself and my children that I would never insinuate that there was something wrong with my kids. It would always be about their behavior, never about them or their spirit. But, today I broke that promise and it felt like dying. I watched my child’s face, full of emotion, full of fear, look up at his mother and then he steeled himself. His eyes looked past me and in that moment, I knew this moment was a turning point. This was a moment I would add to my long list of mom guilts and a moment I’d likely hear about in a few years when my child attends the Landmark Forum and he will discover the origin of his identity.
I turned, my head flooded with rage and my heart bursting with regret and shame. I walked away from my son, I left him because I didn’t trust myself. My head had overtaken my heart. My machine was running the show, and so, I ran. I stumbled down the stairs, I hitched in a breath and I began to sob. And then, I pulled my phone out and began to write this. Because in this moment, I need it out. I need it not in my soul. I can’t face him this second but I can do the next best thing, face the world.
He has spent the entirety of the day, tormenting and picking on his siblings. From second to second I’ve been quelling disputes and calming their screams. I became frazzled. I lost it. I lost myself and my commitment. I screamed and snatched him up. I walked him up stairs and ushered him into his room. I then proceeded to seal the deal by planting the seed in a nearly six year olds mind, that there is something inherently wrong with him and just because he can’t interpret his own actions, does not negate the fact that he as a person is wrong.
Now, as my heart slows and my breath returns to a fraction of normal, I analyze, I sit with it and I get present.
What comes up for me in this space is this, if you could call this conglomeration of things an actual ‘this.’
My husband has been working extremely long hours lately and I’ve been home with the kids alone at night. I’ve been dealing with the slow escalation of their bad attitudes and poor behavior. I’ve been on damage control. I’ve been present. I’ve allowed exhaustion to manifest as emotion and I’ve invited it in for some tea. I’ve watched that emotion mutate and evolve into something more toxic.
For some reason, today, the motivation for productivity and presence didn’t show up. I didn’t create it, I didn’t put that intent into the world. Instead, my day started with aggression. I noticed something my husband did/didn’t do and I fell out of commitment with him and right into a context I’ve had of him for a very long time.
You see, we see what we want to see and what we want to see is what makes us right. We long to be right, to have our version of reality validated. We look for proof and when we can’t find it, we create it.
My aggression toward the story of my husband is far removed from my commitment to see him as kind, caring, generous and helpful. This morning, I watched a peaceful funny man, burst in anger and pain. I had done it. Two birds with one stone. I pointed out his folly and in doing that was able to coax out the secondary view I have of him. As he yelled in my face that I am looking for things to be mad about, as he yelled In my face that I was not taking responsibility for my context, I saw him.
I saw his story interacting with my story and it was like two people I don’t know but am painfully familiar with.
When I kissed him good-bye I had the same thought I always do after a spat, I hoped he wouldn’t die today so that we’d have time to get it right tonight and that we could recreate those commitments and be free of the last. I prayed the world would be on my side today and that ide be granted what we all know is uncertain, a future, a future where he walks through the door later so we can be kind to eachother. I would clean it up. I’d get free.
Only, I never do. I never do get completely free. I think I do but that’s where the division lies. In thinking I am free I let down my guard. My guard of my own thoughts and my own actions. I stop honoring my commitment to compassion because I think it will somehow maintain itself.
It doesn’t. The human condition prevails. Transforming your mindset is an art and a science and it is also a lot of fucking mindfulness in action. You have to be present to it all the time. You have to make it work when it seems that being right would be so much better. You have to be responsible for your own humanness and be willing to make responsive action in the direction of your commitment.
Transcendence is not a given. It’s an accomplishment that is easily thwarted. Transcendence is cultivated and tended to. It’s a choice and in that choice comes the ultimate glitch, choice is an action word. It is not passively accomplished. Choice in and of itself is action.
I put down my phone, walked upstairs and sat in front of my first born child. And, we talked. He told me things that only he could and he got present to where he really is and why he has been tormenting the shit out of his siblings. He forgave me without me even apologizing and then, I took responsibility for the impact of my actions. I also said I was sorry.
We made a new commitment and we acknowledged it will take a conscious effort. We got present that being who we want to be is actually powerfully chosen.
We hugged, and for an instant, I wondered what this would do for his story, the story of how he became the being that he will grow to be. His story of him and his story of me.
The ontological rational of it is, it doesn’t matter. It means nothing. It will be assigned some subplot in his memory and he will get to powerfully choose where in his existence to place that.
And now, as my breathing has completely normalized, and my heart only aches for the angry mom that showed up and the hurt child that experienced her, I wonder, as with all the personal snippets I share, if this will hit as an act of contribution. I wonder if this might help someone, and as I get present to the feeling of being handed a lifeline, hope and the feeling of not being alone.