My son and I are so much alike. People often say that Declan looks like Bryan – but the truth is, he has my eyes. And as we all know, the eyes are the window to the soul. Can you imagine how difficult it is to look in your son’s eyes and see the same demons that have haunted you over the past 40 years? To know what struggles he will face, how hard he will have to fight his own nature?
Somewhere deep inside both of us, we have the same desire to fix things, the same desire to be the best, the same desire to be correct. Many times this desire is misconstrued as selfish; it’s not. Most days, it truly is birthed from a place of trying to make the world better. Of wanting to be better.
But usually that doesn’t work out there in the world.
What this has meant for me is a long time of letting go, giving up, letting others take control – with limited success.
What it means for Declan is – right now – he knows how to push my buttons like no other person on the planet.
When we disagree, it’s like having an argument with myself. A selfish, irrational, confused, 7 year old version of myself.
Last night I fucked it up royally.
I didn’t strike him; we never have. But the words I hurled at my son, those I am so incredibly ashamed of. Those I can’t take back.
Words hurt just as much as hands, don’t I know it.
It doesn’t matter that he did everything in his power to piss me off. *I* am the adult. *I* should be in better control. And even worse, *I* am the one who knows exactly where he is coming from.
Once I realized we were going to a place where I could hurt us – hurt that special bond I have with my very special child – I walked away for a while, calmed down, and then walked back. I apologized – and he did too – but mine was more important.
We also talked. Really, really talked.
Declan has always been an old soul. From the minute he was born, even though he was 2 months early, he was an old soul. He is also an only child who is social and used to being around adults. All wrapped up in a seven year old child.
A child. I sometimes forget that and push him too hard, too far, expect too much. This is something I have promised myself I will remember more. He is SEVEN.
And yet, when we talked – our conversation felt good, mature. I laid several things bare for him, to help him understand why I get upset with him. Why he and I struggle more than he does with Daddy. That we have to try harder because he was so important to me. So so so important.
I just hope he heard me.