How I have missed coming here to pound out my thoughts on the keyboard. I have a whole host of chores to do, a show to get ready to hang next week but it’s one of those mornings where putting my thoughts into black and white will help clear my head so I can focus on what I need to do. If I am really honest, I want to go crawl back into bed, but that won’t do much good.
This morning, I sent my son off to Eco-Week, where the entire 5th grade class goes up into the mountains for hiking, fly fishing, ropes course, campfire etc.. He has been away from home before, but he has been in a place of wanting to herd the 5 of us together, having some separation anxiety and I think he honestly is ready to hibernate for awhile; his fall instincts are on cue. So going off with 100 other kids wasn’t sounding appealing. I know he is going to have a blast and he will keep it together while he is there. It was just getting him to the point of putting on his pack and walking out the door. He had so many what if’s this happens or that? He doesn’t like surprises or not having a clear picture of what his days will look like. He cried, screamed and yelled for almost two hours this morning making himself almost throw up and had a rash all over his face. He is much to old for that but the power of anxiety and fear took over. I knew he would regret not going and I almost let him off the hook because in the moment it seemed it would be easier (and those big brown eyes were begging), but it wouldn’t have been the easier or the right choice.
So, instead, I calmly packed up his stuff while firmly and by hour two, too loudly tried to get him to stop crying and yelling. It was awful. Once he realized that I wasn’t going to let him give up, he finally surrendered and started asking questions. I gave him lots of hugs, told him I knew he could do it, put a heart rock in his pocket and told him where everything was. (Normally, I would have had him pack his own things, but I had to pick one battle today) He went and washed his face and then sat at the table trying to not cry. I had a clear memory of his first day at preschool and going through the same thing. It was gut wrenching to walk out and leave him, but we did it and we both grew; just like we did once again this morning.
Ry and I are actually so much alike. I know he is more my teacher than I am his. He holds a mirror up and seems to say “take a good, long look”. We have had an intense relationship since my pregnancy with him. It has been a lot of hard work on both of our parts, a lot of tough love moving him forward and into the world. But, we have a built a trust in each other that is unlike any other relationship I’ve ever had. I feel like we see each other so clearly and I know as he grows up that will turn into a friendship that will be powerful and so full of love and respect. Right now though, I am his mom first and have to keep giving him tough love so that he can open new doors and become his truest self and not let fear win. A lesson that I have been working on myself as I continue to put my art out into the world. The rewards are so much greater than the fear and I hope after this week, he can see that, too.
6 Replies to “Tough Love”
Beautiful Cat. Thanks for sharing and for being so strong.
You’re amazing and so strong, and love with such grace. Thanks for sharing your introspective self.
So heartfelt and wise! You’re doing well, grasshopper!
That must have been difficult. Beautifully said, it is rough to help your children (and ourselves) to grow into the peole they need to be. I like the part that the rewards are greater than th fears. I need to hang onto that. Good luck, it sounds like you and Chris are doing an amazing job.
Good morning, Catherine!
I just reread this and just want to give you a big hug for doing the hard hard thing of pushing your kid into the world despite his anxiety and fear. I live this experience on a regular basis and it is SO SO hard. So much of what you write about your experience with Ryan echoes my own with my boy–he’s almost 9.
How did the week go for him?
I totally understand and love the mirror analogy. Our kids so mirror us and it is often not a reflection that we want to see but when we can accept it, we help everyone. Ourselves as much as our kids.
Thanks so much for putting into words and sharing this experience. It’s so instructive. So beautiful. So generous.
Hope to meet you in body, not just in spirit, one day!