Since our son broke up from school for the summer holidays a few weeks ago he’s generally shown a significant level of internal disquiet whilst adjusting to the stopping and undoing. Some days his needs have felt impossible. Some days everything has seemed insufficient to him and he’s requested more, more, MORE! I’ve managed to hold the space and allow him to fall apart safely in my arms as I’ve put my boundaries in place but I found it exhausting.
I was unprepared for how disconnected he might feel as he had seemed so buoyant and cheerful in the preceding weeks before school finished. And this past weekend I collapsed, utterly shattered, from the emotional intensity I experienced with him during the last week. I had not felt fully resourced within myself in my parenting shoes as the holidays approached. I had in fact been feeling raw and vulnerable whilst processing some deeply held emotions as we near the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. Last night however, as I whispered sweet dreams into his resting ear before I went to bed, I told him how much I had enjoyed our day together. I said I see how confused he is at the moment and how I want to help him. And then the following words came from my mouth:
I will meet you with everything I can tomorrow in your frustrations.
I won’t give you everything I can.
They felt powerful words to speak, resonating deeply inside me as I quietly took charge, and a very timely reminder as I try to tenderly look after myself whilst caring for him and his sister. A good mantra to bring forth for the coming weeks.
He was in good spirits on waking this morning. So far he, his sister and I have flowed like honey in our connection together. The three of us are sitting at the dining table whilst I write, they both drawing, colouring and creating. I don’t know how the rest of our day will unfold but I recognise where my boundary is and what I can give. It won’t be in his endless requests for TV (we had a completely screen free day yesterday which felt wonderful and so far today too!) or another trip to the playground or some ice-cream. It will be instead as he yells and gnarls and possibly wants to bite out at the world. This I know I can do. And most importantly, I know I can do it whilst honouring my own heart.
I cherish these two incredible gifts I have before me. Happy Tuesday!
Image: Mary Cassat