Sometimes despite being as prepared as we possibly can be – the shit still hits the fan!
Now I’m a development coach, specialising in dealing with families and relationships so I should have it down, right?
I’m armed with tools and strategies and I teach other people how to use them – so family life for me is straight forward, right?
Now I’ve lost my shit on numerous occasions. Every time has taught me something – especially about myself – and the learning never stops. Ever.
One of the most difficult yet foundational moments for me as a parent was the day I spotted an unexpected Facebook notification on my son’s phone from his biological mother.
Now, I always knew the day would happen when contact would be made. I’d pictured it in my head a thousand times.
We’d spoken about it. We’ve always been open about adoption; the reasons, the circumstances and all of the information we have.
We’ve talked about safe ways to make contact and the impact it might have on all parties involved. I’d covered every angle, considered every eventuality.
Or so I thought!
One the day in question, I had just arrived home from work and was making myself the usual 4pm coffee…the one that gives you the final push for the day. My son’s phone screen lit up and as I called up the stairs to him that he’d got a message I spotted the name on the screen…
My heart stopped beating for a moment in time.
I felt my blood start to bubble and my tone change before the questions tiraded balistically from my mouth:
“why on earth has she got your number…, why didn’t you tell me you were in contact…what are you thinking about……”
He retorted calmly:
Mum – I think you need to go and calm down and then we’ll talk, i’m not having a conversation with you until you do.
By this point, I was in complete emotional hijack – I had lost all rational thought – I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my body accompanied by ALL the sweary words.
I was angry,
I was hurt.
I was let down.
How dare she, how dare he!
I left the house, slamming the door and placed my self in nature. That’s one of my tools, take a walk – pause, reflect, plan, reset.
I wasn’t anywhere near pausing and reflecting as I marched the pavements like my boots were made of lead.
I dialled my friends. I ranted, I let all the emotions out. I accepted reassurance but I still didn’t feel any better.
I walked and I walked and eventually I began to reflect.
I didn’t know the facts I had jumped to conclusions.
I made a plan – to go home, apologise for my emotional outburst, listen and work through it.
If I was feeling all of these emotions, how must my 17 year old son be feeling. This was his journey.
And so I re-set myself and returned.
This time – he was angry with me. He didn’t want to talk to me…yet. And he had the maturity to let me know that he was upset with me and when he was ready, he’d come and find me.
Well, that wasn’t in my plan but fair enough. Tables turned, I waited…anxiously.
When he was ready, he pressed the ‘reset’ button for us both. He began the conversation by asking me to listen and to hold my response until he was finished.
For once, I did what I was told.
“She added me. She sent me a message. I have’t replied yet. I wanted to tell you first and then I thought we would decide together how to handle this. But – you didn’t give me the opportunity. Look, I’ll show you the message”.
That moment was one of the most emotional of my life. I had got it wrong and my son had got it right. He had used all the tools and strategies I’d taught him over the years. He used them to emotionally regulate me. Aside from the sincerest, tear stained apology and a snotty nosed hug, I couldn’t get any words out in that moment but….
I felt pride – pride that makes your heart want to burst because it’s so full of love.
I felt relief – relief that both his words and his actions confirmed the strength of our familial attachments.
I felt disappointed – in myself – for both the emotional hijack and for the flicker of doubt I’d had in my son who had undoubtedly done everything right in this situation.
But I also felt my self confidence return to every fibre of my being. He had dealt with the situation because all those years of hard work and wondering if my words went in one ear and out the other- had paid off. The tools and strategies I had used and taught had become embedded within his psyche and that was incredible. That was a mummy moment I will never ever forget.
And so, let’s be honest – sometimes we all lose our shit. It’s part of the learning curve that is life. It’s how we recover from those moments that matters and it’s what we learn.
So next time – pause, reflect, plan, re-set – you’ve got this!