A few nights ago, I had my ten-year-old son in the car, just him and me. And he was mad. Really, really mad. He is often mad. And, often, it's at me.
This particular evening, it had started because he was convinced that his younger sister was faking when she left school early that day with a fever (there's the lack of empathy piece that we see as a result of trauma). As we moved forward in our conversation, it was clear that there was a big lava lake of anger bubbling around under this surface issue of a sibling who got to leave school early. And because I had the time, and it was just the two of us, I dove in. I told him we had as much time as it took, that I really wanted to understand what he was feeling, and that I could wait. He wanted so badly to shut down and close me out. But I persisted.
And here is where we got - a really mad (and not wanting to admit it, really sad) boy holding his head in his hands, turning his body away from me, and yelling things like, "You never understand! For over five years, you never understand! I don't care! I can't even tell you! I'm not telling you!" And I said, "You know what I think? I think you are so, so mad that I am your mom. Is that it?"
And he started sobbing and nodding his head yes.
He is so, so mad that I am his mom.
At one time, it might have felt like a punch in the gut. But for me, six years in, it was a flash of "Now we are getting somewhere!"
And in that moment, while he wouldn't let me touch him or comfort him, I was able to tell him:
"I am ok with that. I am ok that you are so mad that I am your mom. I would be too. If I were you, I think I would be so, so, so mad that I had to get a different mom. I would hate it. I would want to be with my first mom. So it doesn't hurt my feelings that you feel that way. I still love you, and I don't love you one little bit less. And I am going to stick with you no matter what. And you know what? I think that's what your first mom would want. I think she would want to know that her boy had a mom, and she would want to know that this new mom was going to stick with her boy and love him no matter what. So I'm ok with that. I can take it. You can be mad that I am your mom."
Truly. Bring on the mad! I want to grapple through the mad. The real mad. Not the thirty-seven other little mads a day that are bubbling up out of the big mad. Let's acknowledge that the real mad, the big mad is there. I promise I can take it.
So, when I'm feeling assaulted by the thirty-seven little mads, let me remember the real mad. Let me be forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. Let me stick with him through the big mad.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"They became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands.
They refused to listen...they became stiff-necked in their rebellion...
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
Therefore, you did not desert them."