While I was cleaning up the glass, he scurried off to the kitchen. When I finished cleaning up, I found him standing on the kitchen counter shoveling an entire chocolate bar into his mouth. That was the last straw. Quiet time is supposed to be my time to recharge. My time to be quiet. My time to check out. Instead, I was spending my precious alone time dealing with one annoying situation after another.
I lost my mind. I yelled at my son as I yanked him off the counter. I told him to go to his room, and when he vehemently denied eating the chocolate that was now covering his face (and the kitchen), I called him a liar. I just wanted a break, and it felt like an injustice that I clearly wasn’t going to get one. Eventually I apologized, but my son didn’t feel the least bit sorry about what he did, and that might have been the most irritating part of all.
Being the Adult
My son is not my equal. It’s not fair to expect him to behave like an adult, and I also can’t allow myself to act like a child. I’m not always going to get the apology I think I deserve, and more often than not my righteous indignation stands in the way of repairing the relationship. I can explain how my son’s words (or fists) felt, and I can certainly stop him from hurting me or someone else. But at the age of four, I can’t expect him to sincerely understand, or even care, that being a mama can be really hard.
I can’t imagine what it’s like for my son to have his safe person lose her temper. To tower over him and yell. We aren’t equals because I have a much bigger capacity to harm him. In one fell swoop I can rob him of his sense of security, even if only briefly. I have to hold myself to a higher standard because in addition to having more skills, I have more power and control. I’m capable of far more damage.
An Oasis of Peace
I love this imagery, and I can’t help but wonder how approaching my son in this way would feel to him. He would likely feel calmed, understood, and comforted. He might feel unconditionally accepted. He could probably rest in that peace knowing he is safe and loved. And he would probably be more equipped to extend kindness and peace to others, continuing the ripple. I'm not always capable of remaining calm, and that's okay. But what the Archbishop described is something I'd like to practice embodying, at least some of the time.