Sometimes I lose my temper, and I yell at my kids (usually Little Man, let’s be honest) or my husband. I stomp my feet, slam my door, and even pout a little. I argue. Other times, Little Man begs and begs and begs me for something or some activity, and I cannot bring myself to say that final “no”. I don’t want him to be upset with me. I don’t want him to be mad, or sad, or anything with me. I get caught in a back-and-forth spiral that only makes the “no” that will come 10 minutes later so much worse.
After having both of these things happen today, I suddenly realized — this is okay. It is okay for him to be mad at me. It is okay for me to be mad with him. It is okay for Husband and I to disagree, to stop talking to each other for a few minutes, to want to just get away from each other periodically.
See, the thing is — I grew up a child of trauma. Fighting in my childhood home was not at all what fighting is here. Yelling, screaming, or even being accused of being a whore at the grand old age of seven — that was a good day. I don’t write about my childhood too much, because I’m blessed. My mom loved us, despite being caught in a cycle of domestic violence, and tried to be sure that we knew it. She eventually left him, though not too late to have its impacts on all three of us girls. I was 18 when the final separation occurred. We’ve all started building more positive relationships with each other, at least the females in our little family. I don’t think about my childhood too much. I’m the kind of girl that tries to not look back, to live no regrets, to move forward and celebrate who I am today. The thing is — all that trauma, all those rages — it impacts who I am today.
I hate fighting. I hate arguing. I hate him being mad at me. It all triggers this deep unrest, this little-girl-fear that still lives in my heart, apparently. I want us to all get along, always, roses and daisies and sunshine. I am terrified of leaving a scar on my child’s heart that will stay with him forever. I am terrified of the wounds that we parents can inflict, sometimes even with the best of intentions. I am terrified that I will create fear in my child. I believe that I am only a good mother when I am patient, calm, giving, sweet, laughing… I believe that yelling is a failure. I am scared of repeating the cycles of my childhood.
Except, here’s the thing. Relationships are dirty and gorgeous, brutal and beautiful. Relationships get ugly sometimes, even the best of relationships. You fight. You make-up. You fight again. You work it out. Relationships are negotiation and compromise. Relationships are forgiveness. Relationships are cursing each other out in your head, and sometimes even out loud. I’ve never had a friendship or family-ship that did not involve getting completely and utterly pissed off at each other. Little Man doesn’t need me to sugar-coat his world, create a place where everything is lollipops and rainbows. He needs real. He doesn’t need passiveness or disconnection. He needs fierce love, love that is so full and good and great that we can mess up, over and over again. WE need fierce love. I need it as much as he does, this living, breathing experience of what it means to be in a healthy family through all its ups and downs. We can be mad — and still be safe. We can yell and stomp and throw a toy and tear up a paper — and still be loved.