William just celebrated his 11th birthday and I’ve been reflecting on how much our relationship has improved over the last 7 years.
I wrote extensively about the transformation in our relationship on my previous blog The Dream to Write (and some of it is covered in my essay collection Winter to Spring) but basically over a turbulent 6 month period when William was 4 and I was 37 we became restored to one other.
I just finished another edit of my unpublished manuscript Falling Backwards Into Grace and this section about William brings me to tears every time:
“William was the catalyst who forced me, kicking and screaming, to my knees. He eventually led me from performance to grace. My gratitude to my son is as limitless as the horizon of the sky; it goes on forever and will never reach an end, but of course I did not know that then.
In order to rebuild, we must first break down. When your faith and your worldview is built out of cards on quicksand like mine was, adding another flimsy layer will not address your mammoth foundation crisis. I had been adding more cards for so long that the whole structure was ready to collapse, and William’s personality was the match to light the flame and burn the whole useless thing to the ground.”
His refusal to bend to the pressure I placed on him saved me from my own invisible palace of denial, perfectionism and rage. He helped me warm up to my neglected personality qualities that had gone dormant but never fully disappeared. These qualities gave me back my authentic self.
I truly believe the best thing we can do as parents is to be open to truth, in any form, and be willing to let go of old ideas and fears that no longer add anything to our lives. This acceptance brings complete freedom, for it allows us to stop working for the approval of others and begin to finally own that right for ourselves.
William gave me this gift. It was the furthest thing from easy, but all lasting change brings agony at first. If you are in this kind of emotional pain right now, I urge you to keep going, for the only way out is through. Don’t retreat, longing for simpler shores. Keep trudging, for one day you will be different and so grateful you did not quit.
Happy Birthday, my wonderful boy. You’ve come a long way. I’m so proud of you. Marvellous things are ahead and I love that we will discover them together. I know that you can do hard things because I’ve seen you face them and conquer them already. It’s okay to be afraid. We are all afraid, but courage is your fear on the move.
If you are a parent, struggling with your beloved child, know that you are not alone. The meaning lives in the hardship and in the not knowing. Be open to owning your mistakes. Look for the truth beyond your limited interpretation of the events. Know that you and your kid are both good enough. You’ll make it through.
If you knew where William and I had once been – screaming at each other, fighting, fuming, accusing and blaming – you would be amazed at where we are now with our mother and son bond. Change and growth are entirely possible and I’m so thankful.