Light House Lady,
Someone asked me recently for one piece of advice I would give to new parents?
Of course, I spoke from personal experience, but I said this: whatever unfinished or non-addressed emotional trauma that person had would resurface as a parent, about a million times stronger.
She was surprised, and said most people told her “they would need to be patient”- I laughed, “Yes, you'll need patience, too.”
I gave birth to Matt Jr. when I was 19, turning 20 a couple months later. Tyler came when I was 21 and Andrew, at 23.
I carried so much anger and emotional pain in my body, mind, and soul in my twenties and into my thirties that it could not help but overflow into my marriage and parenting. Unfortunately, that shaped my sons.
I became aware of my issues, that they were mine to handle and began working on it. I went to therapy, read endless books, listened to hours of podcasts rather than music or other indulgences, and made tiny changes over the years.
I've spent countless hours talking to my sons, apologizing, listening to their wounds that I caused, and working with them to move forward in healthy ways. I have learned what I need in my heart and soul and physical body and what each of them needs.
To be honest, I am still learning what they need.
One of my sons doesn't like to speak up because he has been trained by me from a young age, not to. Mom will get overwhelmed and angry and it's just not worth it. But he is worth it. I am worth another chance. We are worth it. When he shuts down or hides, I purposely pull him out into the light with love, humor, and patience to find out what he is really thinking, fearing, or wanting.
Another son, absolutely sick of my nonsense, decided to start calling me out on my bulls*$t. Some would label him “disrespectful” but I am grateful for his courage. Our road has been paved with name calling (him towards me), silent treatment (him again), anger, hurt, confusion, pain- all the things I had felt, too, but now I saw it in him. It broke me to know that I had caused or allowed some of this to happen. But now we have a beautiful and unique relationship most people would not understand and I treasure him dearly.
Another son learned to buddy up to mom, be chill, lay low and not stress mom out. A lot of stuff was just hidden from me- whether it was stinky socks or girlfriends…until it couldn't be hidden anymore. This has produced it's own set of difficulties, strains, and intense consequences that the entire family has had to work through.
My point should be clear- April was messed up. She blamed others. She was angry and in pain and it deeply impacted her children. April lied to herself, saying children are resilient and will be fine, when she, in fact, was once a child who obviously was not resilient and seriously, was never fine. Learn from April. You may not have caused the problems you were initially handed but they're yours now, so what will you do with them? Will you place them upon your children or work through them like a full-on adult?