The holidays bring out the best and worst in me. I was an absolute mess before Christmas. The planning, the spending, the worrying about the debt-ing, all made me an emotional mess. Oh and did I mention that our house is up for sale, and we have to have the house “show-ready?” That combined with memories of Christmases gone by and the reality that my boys are not babies or even toddlers anymore. They are getting bigger and this, or the next Christmas may be the last ones that they “believe” in Santa. When that happens, a certain magic will be lost.
It seems that we try to hold on to a piece of the past — no matter if it is healthy or not — and the holidays give us the opportunity to do that. Baking what our grandmothers baked, putting decorations up that remind us of our childhood, trying to recreate experiences that we had as children for our own children.
The trick is not losing ourselves in the past, not succumbing to the old ways that we used to use to survive. There are roles we played as children that can be carried into adulthood that no longer serve our best interests.
My goal as a mother is to make the roles of my boys good ones, to allow and even facilitate the changing of those roles as they grow. I know I am going to be a major topic in their future therapy sessions. I can’t escape that, but I want to mitigate the damage. I want to - for lack of a better term - not pass my neurotic shit on to them. I want their lives to be about them and what they want and need, not what I want for them.
My personal struggles have been fighting my own narcissistic tendencies and my need for validation, control and attention. Well the attention thing may be out of the question, because well…. blog about ME! But I am learning that I can validate myself. Control is something that I am learning to let go of, one white knuckle at a time.
I am finding it easier to see my role as a mother as one of a guide and not a leader. A behind the scenes coach and support system rather than a director. This is needed as they are becoming older. Lil One is only 6 and I can still bask in the glow of his cuteness and cuddle-me-ness and his looking to me as the one with all the right answers. He is a smart cookie and so easy going, and I may be able to hold on to that for another couple of years.
But First born has been discovering himself apart from us. It is exciting and frightening to watch. First Born is 11 and I have started the transition into someone who really does not know anything. I am the one to be tested and argued with at any cost. My natural urge is to fight this. But I am realizing that that will not help. I have to let him make mistakes. I have to let him fall. I have to make sure that I validate his feelings, even when I think that he is being rid-god-damn-diculous and overly dramatic. I have to allow that to happen. If I fight it, I fight him. He has enough angst and frustration, I don’t want to play the lead role. I am also realizing that he still needs the hugs and cuddles that I give Little One. He leans into me when I am going over his homework. He lets me fix his hair in the morning and still gives me a kiss goodnight. I have to be welcoming to that for as long as he still needs it. I have to not push when I go to give him a hug and he backs away and only does the one-arm-patting-the-back thing. I need to give him his space and allow him to grow.
It is so hard and so emotional! So much more emotional than I thought it would be. There are times, especially during the holidays, when I ache for First Born to be that little wiry monkey who would fly into my arms and tell me - with his speech impediment - ‘Momma I yuve you soon much.’ I miss when he would pat the floor next to him and say, ‘Momma, you pway dis twuck and I pway dat twuck.’ I daydream of the nights spent on his rocking chair in his room, when he would tell me what songs he wanted me to sing to him before bed. I would sing and his sweet little voice would join with mine on the parts that he knew. I miss that little guy. I miss the role I played. I miss how good I felt being able to comfort and fix all of his problems with a hug and a kiss. At 11 he still needs me but in a way that I have to learn. The early years came naturally. These years are going to need some research and patience. The roles are changing.
Everything is new but we are the same. Can we change? Is it possible that we don’t change but become more of ourselves as we improve? When we were born, were we wired as perfect beings and then life happens, parents happen, mistakes happen and our wiring is short circuited, then re-wired? Are the improvements we make actually working our way back to our original “wiring?”
I sit here typing this with tears running down my face. I know that growing pains are as much about what we as parents go through as it is for our children. I realize that growing never stops and I have to continue my growth as a mom. I have to figure out the next stage and allow my sons to figure it out as well. I can’t scoop them up in my arms and tell them “Momma’s got you, baby. Everything is gonna be all right,” and expect that to work. I am going to have to find something that makes me feel as good as when I could still do that. How do you find that? How can I get that back? Am I supposed to get that back? How do you come to the realization that that part of your mothering role has been played and is done? How do you look back on that and smile with pride instead of cry with longing?
When I looked at my sons when they were first born, I knew in my heart and soul that they were perfect beings, full of love and abundance. Their lives are a wonderful journey back to that love and abundance. They will go through highs and lows, beauty and pain, joy and failure and I will be there. I look forward to being there in the background, always there with a soft place to land when they need it. In the meantime I will still be on my own wonderful journey learning and playing the roles I need to play. Someday making it back to my own original wiring and returning to me.