I failed again. During a visit from my mom, I drove her away the week before Thanksgiving. Only God can help us understand where the other is coming from despite the immense cultural, language, love language, and generational barriers.
I have to study the fight-or-flight response further because I tend to fight, as in attempt to tackle the recurring issue while my mom leaves the room and her eyes check out, which only triggers my escalation as I chase her, begging to be heard.
I don’t want to get into more of this as it is too raw and unresolved. And not entirely my story to tell. I just know that we need help and this unhealthy cycle has to stop.
How do I respect and navigate around her need to flee, which is just as dire as my need to be heard. She just wants to retreat into a safe space whether it is to wash a dish or wash Olive’s socks DURING the communication I begged for, which only triggers me, as keeping occupied with physical tasks has always been her coping mechanism while I need to talk about it. THIS IS SO PAINFUL and beyond hard.
I explained to my kids at pick-up that Halmoni and I had a painful conflict and that in light of that, can they please gift me with extra grace, as in please be on task with picking up after yourselves, not fighting, and staying focused during homework.
Needless to say, I still had to repeat myself, break up fights, apologize for lashing out due to my own emotional tank being depleted, rush, clean up Olive’s messes, pray for help, then take them to their church activity on time.
Looking back on yesterday, I realized again that for me, the toughest part of being a parent is not just the physical demands like feeding (so much feeding), driving, clothing, decluttering, and organizing but the emotional demands, like disciplining without lashing out and parenting while I’ve taken an emotional hit.
I thought about my girlfriend who has yet to process her baby’s death as she is busy meeting the demands of her first child. Or even now, as first responders near the Woolsey Fire in Thousand Oaks, have not been able to grieve because immediately following the mass shooting of last week, came the massive fires.
Underlying the frenzy of yesterday was also gratitude for my kids needing me so I could not afford to “dwell” on my feelings of guilt and sadness, *BUT* it truly is a balancing act as I do have to find some still small space to find out how I can communicate wiser so that my mom does not resort to her coping mechanism of taking flight.
So, as Thanksgiving approaches and many of us will gather with our families, all of us imperfect and broken, I pray for quieting of our souls amidst the many voices, inner chatter, unmet expectations, and unresolved childhood wounds:
“The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) – emphasis mine
If you read this, please pray for me and my mom. Happy Thanksgiving.