Updated: Nov 27, 2021
Brayden has been a huge source of stress for me lately. He challenges me throughout my days, arguing and lashing out at unpredictable moments at his siblings and is in general just pissed off. A lot of people try to make me feel better by telling me it's the age or most kids are like this because of Covid. Friends reassure me that their kids argue over screen time or I read articles about the normalcy behind siblings rivalries. This satisfies me for a short while, but then things explode, he calls me a jerk, tells me he hates me, or more recently tells me he wishes I wasn't his mother. I find myself sobbing in my closet, alone, angry at myself for not being better. For not understanding him more and for failing him as a mother. I am sober now and why have I not figured this part out? This is my one job, to be his mother, and I am completely defeated at the game right now. What am I missing?
Perhaps I went on for so long letting a lot of his behaviors slide for the last few years, letting him get away with certain things, half drunk and half dumb to his respectful tone, his unkind words to his siblings. His weekends were spent playing endless hours of X-box with no rules in place, as I was too hungover to care. It was easy to turn a blind eye back then when I was laying in bed with the curtain shut ignoring everyone. Now, things are different and time limits have been placed and he is pissed, I guess somewhat understandably so his world has been very much altered. He is also very aware of what I am going through, and although he claims he understands what sobriety is and that cutting out alcohol is good and a healthy choice, he does not fully understand the severity and extent of it all. I think he is subconsciously seeing how it is impacting him on a day to day basis, as his school was changed because of it. We had the kids placed in school full time so I can focus on my sobriety. This is a speculation and I have really no idea, because that's what I do, I speculate and guess and let my mind spin and run in circles. I haven't actually asked him. Maybe I should asked him?
But sometimes it feels like being around him is like walking through a field of land minds, as none of us really know what will set him off on any given day. Even the smallest interaction can turn into a screaming match, leaving me feeling exhausted and completely defeated for the rest of the day. Sometimes, he threatens me in my dreams at night, and I wake up unwilling to face my day and with the overall sense of worthlessness before I even get out of bed. He makes me feel like a terrible mother those days and I haven't even interacted with him but in my conscious mind.
I stopped drinking to become more present for my children. To be here for them and to love them, care for them and be the mother I always pictured myself being.
Something shifted this week though... On Monday evening, Brayden asked me to read a book with him that I just bought him from school. It is called "Ground Zero." He had an author series and zoom last week and he thought it sounded interesting, so I got it on Amazon that day, desperate to please him and make him happy when he is so often angry with me. So the book arrived Monday and we sat down that night to read it together. We both became inthralled with it, and we read several pages together. Then, the next night we read even more. And this week each night we have both looked forward to this time together, devouring this story about 9/11. I love that Brayden is such a voracious reader. It is something that we have always shared.
Interestingly enough, Brayden's behavior has completely shifted in the last day or so. He went from being angry, frustrated and moody to being happy, kind and willing to help out around the house. He did something very kind for his brother yesterday which was extremely out of character. He switched hockey gloves for no reason whatsoever when Chase was crying over the fact his gloves were dirty from outdoor skating the night before. He didn't need to do that, but out of the goodness of his heart he did. He even went out of his way to be nice to his sister at times, which is unheard of most days.
Ultimately, I am realizing that he was just craving some time and attention from me, I think. He just needed a little extra love. And when he was feeling that things were a little unstable with his mom, his inclination was to lash out. Because he is ten. And because he doesn't know how to articulate that he is in fact scared. Scared that his mom has a drinking problem. Scared to suddenly be thrown back into a new school situation because of it. Scared of this global pandemic. Scared that he is being asked to be the big kid in the situation. Scared to shoulder so much of this burden. When all he wants is to be loved. That's what he needs right now. I so often forget that he is so young. He doesn't need my anger or frustration. He needs my understanding. He just needs to be loved.