Parenting through the big scream

January 30, 2014 · 7 comments

My son is going through a big scream.

I don’t know what else to call it, because that’s what it is. It’s the long, slow, painful release of all the pain he’s felt in the last year.

I get it. I totally, totally get it.

It’s been a hard year. His sister was born, we moved, he left his preschool, his brother started kindergarten without him, his dad changed jobs to something much more demanding, and then his dad deployed.

I could see the scream building up, little by little. There were small releases, here and there, and I tried to be there. But in my own exhaustion, and stress, and grief, there were many times when I turned on the television, or the learning app on the computer, or shooed him outside because I couldn’t muster up the strength to watch him hurt.

But then I knew it was time. It was time to unplug the television and computer and bring stillness back to the house. It was time to watch and listen, and open myself up to the waves of discomfort and pain that I knew were inside.

And so it started.

I’d ask him up or down. He’d say up. So we’d go up. And he’d want down. I’d ask him left or right. He’d choose right, and we’d go right. And he’d want left. I’d ask him slow or fast. Fast, he’d say and we’d go fast. And he’d want slow.

It was constant. Every decision, every intersection, every time to go. There was a whine, or a scream or “I can’t do that” in the saddest voice with the widest eyes and biggest tears you’d ever seen.

And all I could do was nod my head and hold his hand or sit in the other room when he didn’t want me near him. I felt like the worst mother in the world to bring my screaming child with me on the errands we couldn’t avoid. People stared in horror or embarrassment or whatever, and I had to tell myself they didn’t matter. I know my son’s heart, and I would be there as he pulled all the pieces together in the only way he knew how.

The only thing that kept me going was the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night I would get a tight hug and an “I love you” before it started again or he drifted off to sleep.

I think we might be coming out of it, and I can’t stop my own tears. I’m crying out of relief that it’s almost over, sadness that he had to feel so much pain, pride in how he grows and anxiety of knowing this won’t be the last time.

There’s going to be more disappointments, more broken hearts, more confusion. This beautiful painful life isn’t going to stop, child, but I know the strength of your heart.

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