Updated: Nov 19, 2020
As a parent, you never wish the worst for your children. Sometimes we think tough love is what they need, when in fact love is all they need. And through love alone, this permits them the freedom to be who they are no matter what that is. It is not in the love that feels constricted or feels like there is an impossible standard to follow. Being a parent is paradoxical in so many ways because you don’t want your child to suffer but you also want them to learn how to thrive in this world. There are moments in parenthood when I am awestruck by my kids and their development as their own individual human. I have a deep fear inside that they will experience the same hardships that I felt were damaging to my self worth. All we wanted as children was to fit in and not be different. We just wanted to be liked by our peers and accepted and loved for whoever that is. This is the issue. I ain’t raising no sheep… therefore, this causes a conflicting place for them to be different ESPECIALLY in a world where their peers are raised like everyone else.. a world where no one questions a damn thing.
I experienced a number of things in childhood, where I was bullied and also the bully. I was also a funny kid and I loved to laugh, but I was also a child who hid my deep sadness because I didn’t feel free to be me. I did everything I was asked because I didn’t want to get in trouble. I bit my tongue a lot when I questioned the norms, but I spoke out when I felt I couldn’t bite any harder. I ran so far away from living and it all started in childhood. I am noticing some similarities with my own son… he is a heart-centered kid, old soul, hilarious and talented, however the distraction in him is what has been standing out. He always has issues with his teachers because he needs extra time to finish assignments, his attention span is so thin, and his inability to pay attention runs high on most days. And I look at him and I see myself and that makes me sad because I know he is suffering in a way that can’t be described in words. I see it in his eyes and I watch him disappear even as he stands in front of me. I used to cope that way too. I feel my baby’s pain and it hurts all over again.
I’ve been struggling with seeing my own inner power. It’s hard for me to see myself as a powerful being because of how many times I felt powerless. And this isn’t the narrative I want my son to repeat. I keep trying to instill that in him, to know he is a warrior too just like me. I was just questioning myself because I get caught in moments where I forget who I truly am despite all the healing I've done for the trauma. It resurfaces and I understand why.
Last night I felt something was wrong and we had an escalated conversation about his lack of attention. He has a tendency to forget his supplies and can’t remember where he puts everything. I grew up having it drilled in my psyche to remember where everything is, to be organized at all times. And what came from that was an OCD that I still hold today. It is that need for control because that’s all I had in this chaotic world. But my son doesn’t function that way. I know his way of life is to help me let go of that. And even though he and I are the same, he is showing me a world where I wasn’t given that opportunity to be.
I heard his inner dialogue when I was trying to talk to him about being disorganized. His eyebrows went down and his demeanor looked like mine. Pinching his skin and breathing heavy. I had to go to the root of his feelings and asked him why it was so hard for him to do. What struck me was his words because they echoed my own. I’m sorry, I’m just stupid and an idiot. Our shared wound got the best of me because I felt my heart crack again. Familiar with rejection and feeling his desperation on not knowing how to cope. I learned that he feels very alone at school and it’s been hard because his peers have rejected him and refuse to play with him at times. He says there are days he wants to wear a mask because everyone is wearing one even though he knows his immune system is sufficient. He is torn between trying to please me and trying to fit in.
There is so much going on right now. This year has brought out a lot of people’s inner wounds and it’s all being projected outward like wild fire. It must be so confusing to my kids to be told things that don’t follow the narrative they see every day in their school. They question me and my knowledge but how do you teach your children on how to navigate life through feeling instead of what’s being told to you. There are a lot of cruel kids out there and teachers who truly believe they are expressing the right information when they are just passing along shit they aren’t even questioning. My son is natural at questioning things. I have guided him to question everything and he gets in trouble for doing so, but I said, "This is how you change the world… by letting people open up their minds just a little because you saw something different." And he understands because everything I do is different and he questions that all the time.
I want my children to thrive in this hostile world. I wish I could protect them from monsters and other people’s entities. I wish I didn’t have to wipe tears because they feel rejected from those in their world. They feel so deeply and are so sensitive. I’m seeing myself through them and how hard it was and also how easy it was to disassociate and leave. My son cried to me last night and expressed his heart to me and how he wanted to go to heaven. And I validated him and said, “I know. I want to go to heaven too, but while we are here, we have to create heaven here on earth. That is where you see who the real magician is. This whole world is not what it seems. But you have to follow where you are loved and wanted. And you continue to say yes to those who have said no to you when it comes to playing and having fun.” This whole conversation made my daughter cry. She sees her brother as this cool kid, very loving, very kind. And here he is, falling apart because the world is too much right now and she can’t do anything at school to help him because of the enforced rules due to Covid. And the three of us hugged each other, comforting and understanding that this moment is no longer tough love, but love and acceptance for what is. I loved him despite him feeling worthless, and stupid, and an idiot, and not good enough… My son, my inner child, my heart all coming together.
I spoke to my girlfriend, Tena later when the kids slept and I cried as I recalled the story of that night. I said it hurts me because he is exactly like me and it feels like a repeat. And she said something that caught me in my tracks because it made me understand why it was so vital for me to know who I am… she said, "This is why it is important that you step into your power, to show him that." There are so many multilayered lessons that go on… it’s hard to know who is really the teacher and who is the student. Perhaps we are simultaneously playing multiple roles because we are God, the magician, the one true power within us all. My kids need me to own my light and walk through the trenches with my torch up to lead the way. And it clicked that I need to stop being hard on myself because I need only love and not tough love. My son woke up this morning and held my face and he said, “I remembered your message. Today, I will go where I am loved and wanted.” I put my hand on his heart and told him, “You know you’re a powerful kid right?” And he smiled and said, “Yes, like you mom.”
“Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.” - Matthew Jacobson