Mom, Can You Celebrate Us More?
“Mom, can you celebrate us more?” Words spoken to me by my oldest son on the day of his drive through graduation, and the day of my middle son’s 16th birthday. His words hit me like a ton of heavy ass bricks. I sat in silence before I responded. I didn’t have to think long because I knew exactly what he meant.
I, in the moment was at a loss for words and anyone who knows me, knows that is hard considering how much I talk! I can remember when my kids were very small, I’m talking pre-divorce, every milestone and birthday was a big deal. I can’t say it was because of me, but my ex was big on capturing moments, taking pictures and celebrating everything. That just wasn’t me.
Post divorce, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. Depression was eating me alive like a flesh eating bacteria. The reality was, I was parenting while depressed. Do you know what that’s like? No? Let me explain. It’s like running a triathlon while having the flu, and after not eating for days. Remember me saying my ex was the celebration parent?
Well let me go back a bit. Celebrations were never a big deal to me. Why? Because growing up I was never celebrated. There were no birthday parties, no congratulatory dinners for big achievements so keeping things low key was my norm. That didn’t mean I didn’t celebrate, there just wasn’t bells, whistles or streamers. I didn’t realize that I had inherited a pretty shitty parenting trait from my childhood without consciously knowing.
I thought me showing up to sporting events, buying a gift and a cake (sometimes) because quite honestly for several years broke was my actual reality. I thought I was doing “enough”. This even spilled over into my relationship. I honestly could care less about Valentine’s Day or other holidays. I’m a love you all year and randomly surprise, but not a make a big deal about specific days, but, BUT, I had to realize that I couldn’t make my truth someone else’s. I had to honor someone else’s desire to be celebrated, and it was rather foreign to me.
Now back to my son. He and I were sitting in the car when he said this to me. My silence after he told me was to truly hear him, and put my hurt feelings in check before responding. Parents, let’s be honest about something, sometimes our children’s truth can hurt our feelings when we THINK we’ve been doing our best, but I’ve learned that you can not tell someone how to feel or what to feel. I try to always make sure that I don’t minimize their feelings just because mine are hurt. His statement represented the truth of what I’ve done and not done according to him for several years.
I first apologized for my actions, if they made him feel like me not celebrating him and his siblings more made them feel less valued. I then asked him how I could improve, and what that looked like for him. I’m a firm believer that, if you want to know, ask! He explained ever so clearly what that looked like for him, while praising me as a parent. I thanked him, but shifted the focus because this wasn’t about me. Yes, my hurt feelings and a good dose of shame were very apparent and I could see him feeling a need to reassure me that I was doing a good job, but in that moment I needed him to fully express himself without worrying about my feelings.
After we talked, I felt better and he felt better. I also made sure to speak to my other children. To let them know what I planned to do moving forward. As parents, it’s important that we create a safe space for our children to speak their truth, and share their feelings without fear of being judged or fear of not being heard.
I’m so grateful that I’ve grown enough to not be offended by the truth.
Until next time...🦋