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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done.

Michael has had a falling-out with a friend who said something hurtful. The friend later apologised and explained what he meant, but things have not been the same. There has been an unmistakable chill in the air for the past few days.

Michael has had disagreements and out-and-out fights with other kids before, but this one seemed to completely shatter him. He came home choking tears back, and stayed in his room by himself for hours. When the friend apologised, Michael was afraid that he was lying.

It has affected me, too: I am now constantly second-guessing his relationships with other kids. He suddenly seems more tentative and on the sidelines. I am unsure how to deal with it. Of course, it's possible that I am imagining all of this. Today was the end-of-school pizza party, and when we arrived at the gym, Michael was playing with a bunch of boys. We stayed near the door and watched quietly. I kept asking Steve if he was playing normally. He kept saying that he was; I remained unconvinced.

Yes, I am a crazy mommy.

I am posting this only because it is weighing heavily on my mind. The friend is like a brother to Michael and a nephew to me, and I am sure this will all blow over in a few days. In the meantime, it is hard to watch.

Sometimes I think I am not strong enough to be a mother.


Anonymous said...

Take this with a grain of salt, seeing as how I am childless, but I think you're responses are perfectly normal. In fact, they are refreshing to me. It's comforting to see a mom care so much; it expresses some of the best forms of love, even with all the pain involved.

Trudie said...

The strength lies in the ability to admit that one is not the be-all and end-all for one's child. So much of what we do as parents has to be done alost a heart beat at a time - without a key to take a peak in when unsure.
You're doing fine, Megan and I'm sure Michael will tell you that when he grows up. My son did, and I could probably have plastered an entire subdivision with doubts over my parenting skills back when he was a kid.

Mack the Hack said...

A couple things, but please bear in mind they come from a guy currently in the process of doing a lot of breast-beating about not having had kids right now...

First, having moments of self-doubt as a parent are a sign, sanity? Such an awesome, awesome responsibility, raising, nurturing and helping another human being. It's the people who don't acknowledge that to themselves whose fitness for parenting I question.

Second, from the sound of things, just about everyone involved did all the right things, post-incident. You certainly were on heightened alert in terms of engaging Michael. It sounds to me like you struck the right balance between encouraging him to talk about his feelings and giving him the 'space' to work things out at his own pace.
You don't say it outright, but from the way things happened, it sounds like Michael's friend's parents were on top of things, too. After the argument and incident, the friend apologized and explained what he meant, from which I'm inferring someone explained to him why what he said was wrong, and how it hurt Michael's feelings. It goes without saying Steve was keeping an eye on Michael too, and the both of you were comparing notes. So it sounds like all of you parent people are doing the right thing.

Third, it's something often not discussed in polite society, but kids - even good ones - can sometimes be shockingly cruel. Like everything else about them, kids' capacity for cruelty is something they develop as they grow. That's why it's so important for parents to be on top of things, and for that I refer back to my previous point. Perhaps some good comes out of this incident. Both Michael and his friend saw a little bit of that and from the sounds of things, they didn't like what they saw. I'm sure their parents helped them to contextualize what happened and make it into an important life lesson learned. Again, sounds like you're doing the right thing.

You're doing a great job, both of you.

Finally, the worst thing in the world is seeing someone you love hurting in some way, and feeling powerless to take away the hurt. This I know from experience. All you can do is love the person in the best ways you know possible.

Cookies work well on me.

Megan said...

Yes, the other parents are awesome and very good friends of ours. They did everything right.

I don't think the friend intended to hurt Michael. They have been like brothers for the past year. I think he's a normal kid who isn't really able to express complicated feelings.

Heck, I can't express complicated feelings half the time, and I'm a professional writer. How could I expect anything else from a child?

This too will pass, I'm sure: it is just very hard to watch while it's happening.

A. said...

I'm remembering the silly friendship drama of my childhood: I was friends with Jane. No, I hate Jane. Today, I like Jane, but both of us think that Mindy has stupid hair and is a boyfriend stealer.

I think this sort of thing is normal, but I completely understand your worry. I'd feel the same way in your shoes.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is difficult to watch. I have seen my son go through disagreements with his pal (friends since the age of 6) and whilst I can offer some vague advice or encouragement, all you can really do it watch and let them sort it out themselves. It's all part of growing up. That;s not part of our role as a parent to intervene or even to get too worked up about it - they can do that for themselves. But yeah just to be there if and when they do want advice.

I'm sure you are a great mother, megan. We all have these shakey spells and wobbles from time to time.