Adapted from New Mom, April 12, 2011
This morning, I realized why my relationship with my 4 year old son seems so familiar. He was headed toward one of those dreaded temper tantrums and I snatched him up so quickly his heart started beating as if he were in fight or flight mode.
Yes, I snatched him.
I was so angry because he literally has these crying clusters (what I call them) for days at a time and this was DAY 3. I’d had enough but I was surprised he could get me so angry and even more surprised to realize that I had experienced these strong emotions before. What our relationship has become is similar to that of a woman and man in love-but not the kind of wistful puppy love that one experiences in the beginning of a relationship.
We are at the part where you see each other’s flaws, learn how to push each other’s buttons and battle each other emotionally until you figure out if the two of you are compatible or just too different to make it. Not everyone has these woes. Some relationships are seamless and you’re finishing each other’s sentences by week 2 and engaged by week 4 but, for the rest of us, we’ve had to fight our way to common ground and pile on a lot of forgiveness in order to heal the damage from the territorial wars waged in the early part of falling in love.
I never realized I would be repeating this pattern with my son and this conflict is no less draining or painful than that between his father and I over a decade ago. As much as I try to keep my emotions in check, occasionally, he gets me riled up and I pull the car over in the middle of my commute to work or pull him out of a store in the middle of a should-be normal shopping experience.
Sometimes I win. I am calm. I am composed. I give the perfect lecture. He listens. I am victorious. Other times, I fail miserably and resort to, “wait until I tell your father,” a weak response in my moments of pure desperation. But some of the best and strongest relationships started with two people at odds.
I hope that I will one day be able to look back at my relationship with my son at the point when it is strong, powerful and beneficial for both of us and this growing pains phase is well behind us. Otherwise, I’m going to have tell his daddy!