I read the prompt for this week’s writing challenge and thought of the minutia that is bouncing around in my head at all times, appointments to make, and repairs that need looking after but quite frankly, that sounded like way too much work for me today, so I have decided that what feels most undone in relation to my priorities is a rather scary conversation that I need to have at some point in the near future with my eldest son.
Having gown up in a pretty chaotic environment, as a Mother myself, I sheltered my boys from everything that could possibly hurt them. Not physical hurt- they were fine healthy boys and I knew they would survive the breaks and stitches and bumps and bruises like most kids do. I protected them from emotional hurt. From the fear of not having enough money, or food, or falling ill three days before pay day and how that could topple the whole house of cards over.
I protected them from all my unresolved hurts that came with me into adulthood and motherhood at a young age. I protected them from fears of family dying, and illnesses that strike innocent babies and parents who barely speak to each other but stay together 5 MORE years for the sake of the “children.”
I have two sons. The older is a lot like me in looks and temperament. He also seems to be showing signs of maybe having picked up a bit of the “family” illness. Signs that I am not positive about and quite honestly, don’t have the strength to deal with at this time. Things are going well for him in his life at this moment, great job, new love, involvement in the arts community he so loves. He has openly admitted that he is far better in the routine of a relationship, so I am going to put that other business…that worry..away for now.
He is my softer hearted boy. We are incredibly close and times when he has asked me as all eldest children do ” WHY are you so HARD on ME? WHY not HIM?” I respond back, “Because I know you will never cut me out of your life totally. I know I can have these moments with you and you will always be here for me. I know you won’t ever go away forever and never come back.”
My younger son is much more rational and much more reserved. He is the go-to whenever you have a hard time figuring out which direction to take. Whether it is literally a path in the road or which faucets to purchase for the kitchen sink. He is the son who knows where all the paper work is. The will. The insurance documents. My bank card. My PIN #. He doesn’t care for when things get emotionally messy. He will find the nearest exit usually at the first sign of a tear or emotional outburst.
Humorous aside: When I sat down with my kids and told them about their uncle’s prognosis, their exact first reactions were – Eldest son laid head down on kitchen table and cried silently. Younger son hit me with 303 questions in a rapid fire manner regarding second opinions, living wills, home care, caregiver support, medications, and end of life requests.
Now I have rambled on and on about the kids and haven’t gotten to the meat of the post here. I am all potatoes today, instead! You needed the background information, though, in order to understand why I need to have this conversation with my oldest son.
I know that in his heart, my eldest feels that I have let him down at points in his life or tried to step back from swimming in his pain with him. I know he has felt I am hypervigilent about silly matters such as how many beers in everyone is, or why forgetting to lock the door makes his Mom lose her shit at times, or why seemingly simple things like raising your loud male voice suddenly at something amazing on t.v. can make his Mom shake like a leaf for hours following.
I need to come clean with my son about some of my past and the way I was raised. I have white washed a lot in my stories, in order to shelter them from pain. I have put on a brave, in-control face their whole lives in order to make them feel safe and secure. But I know my eldest wonders at times why I react in ways I do to simple little things that he perceives as non-threatening.
I will feel undone until I talk to him about some pretty painful events that shaped his smiling but nervous Mom into who she is. And I am not worried that the love will not remain. I just don’t want him to feel pain because of me. I want him to understand that I did what I could with the tools I had as a young mother and made some incredibly stupid choices along the way because I didn’t know any better and didn’t seek the help I very obviously needed back when I needed it most.
And if that helps him to understand me better, and to perhaps even assist him with his own life choices, then it won’t have been in vain.
And then it will be done.