I wrote the next few paragraphs a few weeks ago…
Today is my son’s 21st birthday. Hard to believe. Twenty-one years ago I was at a friend’s house for a Memorial Day Celebration. It was a breezy, sunny day, a perfect day for a celebration. I remember sitting at the picnic table with my friend while our two three-year old daughters were playing nearby. They were best friends. She was holding her two month old infant son and I was huge with pregnancy. I couldn’t wait until the birth of my own baby son who was already a day past his due date. I was filled with hope, dreams and images of our children happily growing up together.
The next morning our son was born after an easy labor and delivery. After a couple of days in the hospital, I went home with the help of a baby nurse who would stay with us for a week. It was a luxury, she changed and bathed the baby and would bring him to me when he needed to nurse. Fast forward twenty-one years.
It is another beautiful, sunny day. My husband is off cycling for the day, my daughter is at home in her apartment with her boyfriend, and my son is (hopefully) asleep in his apartment. We are going out to dinner tonight for his birthday celebration. I am praying that things will go well, that he is in a good mood, and will be pleasant during the dinner.
Earlier in the week, we had a rough encounter. He stopped by to pick something up and came in swearing and ranting about everything imaginable. The feeling of powerlessness overcame me but I was steadfast in not engaging in the fight. He blamed my generation for “ruining the world” and leaving his generation with no opportunity. Luckily, there was someplace I could take him and I gladly drove him back to his apartment.
After dropping him off I was filled with gratitude. Yes, he was angry and combative but I did not take part in the dance of anger. This is something I could not have imagined I could do just one year ago. Thanks to Al-anon and a wonderful sponsor, I am learning to detach with love and keep the focus on myself. What a freeing concept.
Fast forward three weeks to today. My son’s birthday dinner went well. Since then he started a new job and I’ve been optimistic about our relationship. He’s developed a new confidence now that he is doing something productive in his life.
Unfortunately, yesterday was not a good day for either of us. In the car, he caught me totally off guard when he started screaming and ranting about a situation he wants us to fix for him. I caught myself responding negatively and started to engage in the fight. Luckily, I pulled myself out of it by using the serenity prayer. I just don’t want to go there anymore with him. So although my behavior was not stellar, I was able to stop escalating. Progress not perfection, right?
I still feel really bad about my behavior and am wondering now if I owe him an apology. Although I clearly see his part in the “fight”, he started it after all, my response was inappropriate. I could have been more compassionate about his dilemma. So my question is, what would you do? Would you make an amend when you believe the other person is more at fault? And if I make an amend, will it give him ammunition to berate me even more? And here’s the biggie for me, do I make an amend just to feel better about myself?
What is the right thing to do? I’m going to pray about this but would love your thoughts. Thanks.