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.

This article has 38 comments

  1. SUEB0B

    You’re a good mom. That you remembered to apologize shows that. Be kind to yourself.

  2. slouchy

    I think it’s especially tough when our kid is so like us. With my “mini-me” (who’s 8), I alternate between being overly sympathetic/indulgent and overly harsh.

    Glad it ended on a good note.

  3. Anonymous

    I don’t know you, but found your blog via twitter. As a mom of a 7 year old only son, I totally got your post. It’s hard. You are not alone, and your post made me happy. Sounds like your son is lucky to have you.

  4. Whit

    I’ve been there a few times myself. It’s an awful feeling, but you can’t beat yourself up over it. The way you handled it after the fact shows that you’ve got nothing to be worried about.

  5. zipper

    It can be hard. Hang tight.

  6. zipper

    It can be hard. Hang tight.

  7. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    omg, you all are gonna make me cry.

  8. Carrie

    Aimee-Oh man, I am right there with you and I think most parents can totally relate. My mini-me is my daughter who’s only 6 and not only looks but acts just like me! Uggh! It’s tough-thanks for the reminder to remain calm and above all else apologize for your own actions. Very valuable lesson indeed!

  9. megan

    oh, hugs, girl.

  10. Sizzle

    Years and years after losing my dad, after even more time where we didn’t speak or fought, I think about what I would want from him and it’s one thing: an apology. As the adult, you can own up to stuff and say you are sorry and try to work things out, take responsibility and say “I love you”. It matters. You did the right thing by walking away, calming down, then apologizing and talking it out.


  11. Ray Page

    we all have to mindful and try to control our emotions. but the fact is, we’re human. imperfect souls. i lay more weight and focus on how to react or follow up on something. and aimee, it sounds like you followed up beautifully. 🙂

  12. Donna

    He sounds like a great kid (and all kids push buttons, and it only gets worse as they get older – sorry). And as SueBob said, you’re a good mom. It shows in the way you wrote about this.

  13. Barb

    I have been there with my oldest. Said things I wish I never would have. Expected too much.

    The only thing that counts is that you talked to him after. And you taught him the lesson that grownups make mistakes and how to own up to it when you know you did.


  14. zenrain

    Hugs to you 🙂 I go through that with E. too… xoxoxo

  15. Anonymous

    Oh, I hear you. Mine is so much like me and we always butt heads because of it. You would think we would get along better, but NO!

  16. Mr Lady

    You know, I have a theory. I’ve said it before online, so forgiveme if this is redundant.

    My theory is simple that it is our JOB to teach our children that people, that everything, is flawed. If my kids never saw me lose my cool, they’d grow up thinking that they are supposed to be adults who never lose their cool. And they day that they DO lose it? They have no idea what’s happening, or why.

    And then we’ve failed them.

    I think we have to show them how to laugh, and how to cry, and how to have fun and how to survive a heartbreak. Protecting them is really just hurting them in the worst way.

    I think you did exactly right. I think you taught him something yesterday. I think you gave him a tool to use in the future.

    I think you’re an excellent mother. That’s all I’m saying.

  17. velocibadgergirl

    My mom and I had so many fights when I was a child because we were the same, and I was an awful button-pusher. They were terrible, horrible, burn-the-house-down fights. But now that I’m grown I see that and I harbor no ill will. We’re probably closer now than we ever have been, and I’d wager we’re closer than a parent and child who never fought, because we burned so hot for so long. I suspect it’ll work out the same with you and Dex, especially since you take the time to talk things over with him after the smoke clears. **hugs**

  18. Carmen

    Oh, Aimee! I put you in my “people who crack me up” #FF today…and then I read this very touching post and cried.

    As the mother of 4 girls who all look like their father(s) but act just as crazy as I act, I can totally relate to this – especially with regard to my oldest daughter who is also an “old soul”. If a day goes by in our house without some screaming and a door slam followed by a tearful apology, we’re having an off day. And they’re not even teenagers yet!

    Next week you’re going in my “people who I respect and admire” #FF. I think you’re awesome.

  19. mayberry

    I really admire your honesty both here and with Declan. Being willing to offer a sincere apology has to go a very long way.

  20. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Could I love you guys any more right now?

    Seriously. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

  21. Hannah

    All’s well that ends well. And a better parent he’ll be one day for your every mistake. You are a strong and beautiful mother.

  22. Brené

    Grateful for your post. So good to know that we’re not alone on this parenting journey.

  23. BabyonBored

    The apology is what makes all the difference. You are brave and sensitive and wonderful and we all fuck up once in awhile. I second the emotion that your kids are so lucky you are making an active attempt to do things better than they were done to you.

  24. Deb

    Hard stuff as they get older. You know what recently happened for me, though–my 21 y o went through tons of conflict with his gf. He actually talks to me about it sometimes. And he says he knows how to apologize and revisit things because he learned that in our family, and I know some of the times he is referencing were times when I had to apologize for being pushed, or for jumping to conclusions, or many of my other many mistakes. It’s all part of it, I think. It’s hard, heartbreaking really, to go through. Hang in!

  25. LemonySarah

    Aimee, we’ve all done it. The good moms regret having done it. You’re a good mom.

    You did a great thing, having the nerve to talk with Declan about it later. Lots of moms are afraid to do that, thinking they’ll lose their leadership.

    You’re cool.


  26. The Casual Perfectionist

    He heard you, Aimee. You are so lucky to have each other.

  27. Nat

    Hugs. This parenting thing isn’t easy, is it. As the mom of an “only” myself, I think I sometimes too forget that he’s only a child. There are many times when I wish I could take a few words back…

    Glad you had a chance to talk it out.

  28. MB

    urgh. this seems to be my life every day. i still haven’t mastered it, but i’ll keep trying. your post reminds me that i’m not alone. you’re not either.

  29. Kim Hosey

    Oh man, I get you. Such a strong bond with such a strong soul, in such a fragile (and frustrating) person. I get you. It sounds like you handled it admirably. We need to be parents, but it does kids good to see their parents apologize when it’s called for. Declan will remember.

    Also? My son and I both correct grammar constantly, want to fix the world’s problems, save every animal we encounter, and talk every problem into the ground until 3 a.m. I think my husband wants to pitch us both out the second-floor window some days.

  30. Kim Hosey

    And I just looked again at your pictures, and you’re right. He TOTALLY has your eyes.

  31. gonzomama

    oh this hits home. my boy is only 3.5, but i see my temperament in him. and i can already see us butting heads. it’s starting to happen. and i know it is because we are so much alike. most of the time it helps us understand where each other is coming from, but lately he has been in the pushing the buttons mode non stop.

    i’ve been taking quite a few ‘breathers’ this week. it’s all i can do.

    and i agree with what whit said. you’ve got nothing to worry about. some days are just really really tough.

  32. Laura

    Oh, girl – we’ve all been there. And you know what sucks? It’s going to happen again. It’s just life. Fortunately, you recognize the triggers and the patterns and you do the right thing – we all just do the best we can, and it’s not always going to turn out pretty. I’ve said ugly things to all my children – even my boy, who has autism – yeah, stellar freakin’ day THAT was. Hang in there.

  33. angelynn

    You are definitely not alone. I think it’s amazing you were able to have such a mature discussion with your son. You both sound amazing. I know in my experience I’ve lost my cool a few times and I hate it. I always promise myself to try to calm myself down, but in the middle of a hectic day when everything else is going wrong it’s so hard. But that’s the beauty of our relationships with our kids. We forgive each other, learn something, then move on. I’m so glad things ended positively.

  34. EatPlayLove

    oh those no take back moments. we all do the best we can, which even means apologies and talking through things and explaining, something I never received as a child. I only got the fight and learned how to cope after.

  35. Mary P (Barnmaven)

    I know I have those moments, when I struggle so hard with remembering to be the grownup. And I have failed more times than I succeeded. The struggle is part of the growth process, the fact that you recognize what your responsibility was and then bared your soul about it says mountains about the kind of mother you are. And you are a good mother.

  36. kristin

    oh mama we all have these days we are not s proud of. you did the best with it. him seeing you apologize and unveil yourself a bit to him is the very best lesson in all of this.


  37. Smiling, Beguiling

    OMG, Aimee do I get this post (and my Dexy is only going to be 4 this June)… as a single mother, I lose my sh*t on a regular basis. I raise my voice, on a few occasions I’ve told her to “Shut up!” (which I hate more than just about anything b/c I hate it when someone says that to ME), and sadly, I’ve even spanked her… but the words I’ve used to “strike” her? Those are the actions on my part as THE ADULT that hurt me the most. What am I, 12?

    I’ve been having SUCH a hard time lately w/ being a mom… this post reminds me that it’s hard for ALL of us, at one moment or another, and it helps me to forgive myself. I hope all of our comments will help you to forgive yourself too. You’re doing a great job mama. Your kid is just like you, what a wonderful thing indeed. 🙂

  38. Dave

    I should write a post/book titled “Everything I learned about Parenting, I learned from The Gieses.”

    Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful parenting dilemmas. I am so happy that “most” of them work out.

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