“He is so much like you!” is the most common statement I hear when family friends see us together. I suppose we look similar but I see more of his dad in his physical features. His sense of humor, love of books, want for solitude and quiet are all his father.He is an easy child to be with when things are good, which is often. I don’t see a lot of me in him when things are calm and lovely.
And then there are the other times. He is so much like me at times that it scares me. I see anger build up in him when he sees injustice happening to him. I see posturing and standing his ground when he is hurting. I see sadness manifest into coldness in his face.
His reactions to unjust situations don’t surprise me. I don’t pretend to “know” what he is thinking or feeling. I don’t assume that because he came from me, that I know anything more than what he shows and shares with me. What I do know is that when I see his actions/reactions to things, they are too familiar and the pain pierces me deep. I try to talk to him about ways to express his sadness and upsets and tell him about how I feel when things hurt me.I think he understands it but I don’t know if he sees our connection yet.
It’s easy to talk the talk, give him resources to express his feelings, give him space to express himself and still be socially acceptable, and think that it will make a world of difference. BUT I know that there is more than that. This comes from his being. We have similar temperaments and I won’t do to him what was done to me. I won’t tell him how he feels is wrong or unacceptable. I won’t look at him like he is just being difficult. I won’t tell him to just get over it. It’s not that easy. It’s who he is.
We are faced with similarities of the difficult kind. We deal with the need to right the wrong with anger and force. I still have it in me. It doesn’t come out like it used to and there are times when I hurt holding it all in. But I’m a grown up and grown ups can’t hurt honestly so I “process” and “talk it out” until I get fed up and just let it out really angry and loud. I feel better afterward but I look around and see the damage I have to clean up. There’s no ‘win-win’. And so now I see my son with a path he may end up following if I can’t figure out a way to show him to be honest with himself about how he feels but without the reaction that will eventually only hurt him.
And now here I am trying to figure out how to make it so he can be so much like me without being anything like me.