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Looking Past, Looking Forward

My 11-year-old son, Jack, and I had one of those “before you go to sleep, lights off, moonlight, coming through his shutter windows” talks the other night.

It had been prickly for a couple of hours prior, where he had been tormenting me with relentless demands for hot chocolate and I said NO repeatedly. He became sullen and subsequently vituperative, so I sent him to bed. I went in to check on him and he basically told me to get out. The lights were off and he was lying across his bed, still in his jeans. “Let’s talk this out,” I said, and we did. He felt that I was mean to him and on him way too much. Jack began telling me how he suspected that something happened to me when I was young. He wanted to know if that was true and what happened that made me get so upset all the time. I told him that it was difficult in our house and that my Dad was an alcoholic and not around physically or emotionally. He said that he knew there was more than what I was telling him.  Jack threatened that he was going to read my memoir and find out, to which I reminded him that he’s not allowed to read until he is at least thirty-five. He said that he felt like he was picking up a lot of what had happened to me during my childhood. He was crying while he said it. I started to cry. I agreed that he was likely right and I told him, “We are working things out together. I am learning more about myself through you and you are developing a deeper understanding of your own impact through me. We are each other’s best teachers.”

Looking into those darker places, having real conversations, and finding a greater understanding of yourself through your children is one of the many gifts of having children. I am learning to look past all the behavior that I have been so addicted to changing in my children. Being more attentive and less controlling is my greatest challenge. We all have challenges to work out. And we have to work them out together.