Feeling like a failure
This last month has been a wake-up call.
A wake-up call to put chores aside, to put trying to be the perfect person aside.
I’ve been so focused on getting back to normal for the boys’ sake that I’ve lost sight of the fact that they are grieving. They are grieving in ways I don’t know; in ways I didn’t know.
Andrew is a psychologist in making and in his words and hugs I took comfort every time I broke down and cried. I took his calm, caring and warm words of comfort to somehow mean that he is strong enough to do so. I had no idea how much sadness and pain he has been masking all these months. He has been slowly imploding within. He still is. At least I have seen the signs now that all is not well with him. At all.
In a rush to build a new normal for the 3 of us, I have been blindsided by the boys' stoic demeanour. I took that to mean they are coping ok, when clearly they aren't. Looking back, I was in a constant 'teaching' mode to continue where Paul and I left off as a team; to bring both the boys up as good, responsible, caring, loving and compassionate young men.
I thought I was good at listening. But I have failed to listen to the boys' silence; I have failed to listen to what the boys aren't saying. I have misread their answers when they 'promised' me that they are OK. I have misunderstood when they lashed out in anger or slammed doors and stayed in their room for hours.
I panicked every time one would say that I was unfair for giving him more chores to do. In trying to desperately fix this perceived unfairness, I usually end up causing more chaos. I am not a natural parent nor a confident one. I drew so much strength and energy from Paul that I feel rudderless; I feel like a failure as a single parent. I worry that I am causing more damage than help my boys cope with their grief.
In the last few days, I have taken the foot off the pedal; the pedal to go faster and faster towards the new normal for us. What that new normal is, I have no clue; yet I wanted to pedal like Lance Armstrong on steroids, because that was my way of coping; of showing to the outside world that I am strong, normal and coping well. It is time for me to stop pretending and to start listening to the unsaid words that are around me.