Last Sunday, driving my son to his soccer game thirty five miles from home, before we even left our neighborhood, before I even realized I forgot my wallet back at the house, he asked me, “Why is dad not coming to today’s game?”
“He wanted to fix the plugged bathroom sink and get some house chores done.”
“Oh, I wish he were coming.”
“I know babe, he loves coming to your games, it’s nothing personal, he is getting stuff done at home that needs to be taken care of,” I offered words with the intention of him feeling better, like giving salve for an open wound.
We made it to the first stop light, “Oh, dang, I forgot my wallet,” I remarked.
“Do we need to got back and get it, is that okay to drive without it?”
“You know what bud, it is ok. I just won’t speed.”
This didn’t make him laugh, he was already onto the next thought. A repeat of this first thought.
“I am use to dad being at every game. I just don’t do well with change.”
It didn’t matter that I had been to most of his soccer games this season, missing only a couple more than his dad. He was missing his dad and I didn’t need to take it personal. He was speaking out his awareness and needs and it absolutely didn’t need to be about me.
“I get it babe, “ I responded.
Driving on, crossing the second bridge of the three we needed to cross to make it to our destination, I attempted to make a lane change. In my attempt, the car in front of me came to a sudden stop. I was going too fast to stop, so I stayed in my lane, swerving back a bit. All safe. I heard and saw my son’s internal gasp as he got extra quiet. Continuing on, he noticed me look at my phone in the cup holder for our next direction. He took the phone and said, “I got this, I will read you what direction to do next.” His tone, curt, annoyed, matter of fact. Taking action despite his discomfort, regardless of now he had to learn how to interpret Google Maps, something new to him.
“Is there something wrong?”
“Yes, I wish dad was here, you are driving without your license, swerving the car because you had to slow down quickly, we are going to a field we have never been to, I don’t want to be late and you are looking at your phone to find out where we are going.”
Instead of taking the defensive route I said, “Thank you.”
We drove in silence awhile longer until I couldn’t keep quiet.
“You were expecting dad to be with us, you felt uncomfortable with your mother’s crazy driving, I get it. I totatlly get it.”
“Mom, you just lifted everything for me. You totally got me out of what I was feeling. Thank you so much. I am fine. Thanks for being the one taking me to my game.”
That’s my son, adverse to change, but with the right space provided on his path, changes on a dime.
I wanted to grab his hand, connect physically, but the way we were connecting right then was enough.
Fast forward to the morning after this week’s Presidential election. My son had gone to bed election night asking that I wake him with good news. To him, good news meant Hillary Clinton winning the election. We were both still holding on to the belief when we said goodnight that she would win despite the numbers on the television screen. In the morning, I took a deep breath standing near his bunk bed. Watching him sleep peacefully, curled up and snuggly. As I exhaled I knew tears would be coming soon. I let them come. Then I took another breath, I get to be the example here. I get to allow him to express his feelings, I don’t have to protect him from my tears, our reality, from his feelings. I get to make space without protecting him. I get to leave room for his response.
When I told him the election result, he was dumbfounded. Then he was sad. When it was time to walk to the bus, he was angry. When he got home that afternoon from school, he was sad again. We talked. I listened. He shared about the responses at school. I listened some more. I gave him more room to express, process and figure it all out in his own mind. Get his feelings off his chest that were weighing deeply on his little huge heart. Then I offered my balm of some chosen words, like I did on Sunday driving to the soccer game.
He received my balm of words. We breathed together, connecting without a hug or simple embrace, just being in each other’s presence.
“Thanks mom, I feel better,” he told me.
My words aren’t always going to make my kids feel better. I believe what made him feel better on both occassions was that I gave him space, room to express, process, speak out. I wouldn’t of had words at age twelve for this kind of national news nor would I have found words to share what I was feeling with only my mom driving me to soccer, when I wanted my dad.
I am grateful for awareness. I am grateful for plenty of room to allow our feelings to be expressed, heard and healed. I am grateful for not taking it personal. I am grateful for change. Even when it hurts and makes no sense at all.
That’s where I am this Friday morning. My Friday Refill Challenge shall you dare to participate: Give yourself room to feel. Create space for your kiddos to feel. Give them a journal, sit around the dinner table longer than usual. Don’t judge. Don’t fear. Simply allow. What ever is up for them, whether it’s their feelings about a soccer game or our nation, don’t assume. Ask, then listen. Don’t fix, only allow them space as you quietly step a little further away.
Hi, I’m Jenny Gwinn McGlothern, Certified Transformational Master Coach for your Life and Spirit, who has been leading retreats for women and coaching them since 2009. On the path of discovery, always seeking, it is clear that one of my favorite ways to fill my own cup is by writing. May my weekly blog give you a sip to reflect, a nugget to chew, a thought to refill. If it is an accountability partner you seek, I offer life and spiritual coaching for men and women, couples too, in person in Seattle and by phone. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.mamaneedsarefill.com or 206 255 0463.