So. My trip back home. Yes, I’m still talking about it, processing it…using it for further and future growth – but this part was also pretty big for me. A cycle of violence is broken.
My son remembers when I used to spank him. He is 8 now and I stopped when he was 5. I was very open and vocal about stopping because I wanted accountability for myself. I wanted him to call me out if he felt scared (and he did). I wanted him to exercise his voice every day with me (and he did/does) I wanted our whole family to be active in the changing of cycles: the move from fear to love, coercion to cooperation, I wanted full participation of individuality and assertion of our inherent rights…and I got it.
And I’m still learning how to integrate all of our individuality into the whole, how to allow and respect others emotions/points of view without anybody being right or wrong. I’m still learning how to see myself and I’m learning how to see my child and my husband through a purely unconditional lens; I’m learning to love for the sake of loving, not because of any one reason. And I’m learning how to teach it by example, not just through my words.
My son sees me every day and I know he sees me trying. He will bring up when I used to spank him and he will always express appreciation in some way for that having changed. I focus on those feelings and never any feelings of guilt over how it used to be, because this is how we keep going forward.
So this trip was big for me in the way of parenting, too. I was committed to protecting my sons individuality and his right to expression. I was committed to keeping conscious of what I am doing differently and not be carried away with the emotions of the past – and I was committed to being the change and using my actions to explain best.
My son showed me up in the best way possible.
My son loves playing with younger kids. He is super good with them, cannot wait to be a big brother – I truly am in love with his big heart and capacity for feeling. So he gets to see his cousin who is a little over 2. The last time we saw her, she was an infant.
I made the decision to let my son stay with my parents and his cousin to play and when I returned to pick him up, my parents had this story to tell:
My son was hit in the face by his 2 year old cousin and his glasses were knocked off. My mom had gotten up to “swat her butt” and my son got upset with her and told her
“That’s not necessary, Nana – I’m fine. It is never necessary to hit a 2 year old”
Even after his cousin would continue to hit at him, my son stood up for her and would not let my mom use any discipline that he thought was too harsh. And she listened to him! She was so surprised at how upset he got and how concerned he was for her after he had been hit and she respected that in him. Even my dad was pretty surprised and dare I say, a bit impressed with him and his ability to speak up.
My son demonstrated this ability again in the trip when he offered up a very sensible reason for the 2 year old to be “so insecure and acting out” She was probably teething and not doing any of that stuff to be bad, she was just hurting…my sister admitted that she was in fact, teething, and my son went off to try and play with his cousin.
Turns out, I didn’t have to really do anything on this trip. My son was the best example I could have ever hoped for. Even for me. It was inspiring for me to hear this story because I had to question myself on if I would have had the courage to speak up about the same things. And I hate to admit the possibility that I would not have. Maybe I would have, but I wouldn’t have had my son’s poise or even his strong voice. My son is so sure now that hitting a child is never necessary and he speaks that with an authority that I truly admire in him.
This was the first time that I felt like the Cycle was Truly Breaking. That I can feel secure in saying it now. That I can take that statement fore ward and farther into my present moments and live its truth in every single one.
We are still learning, working, growing towards being more and more peaceful within my family. Emotions are big and strong and we deal with them and love them every day. We extend and expand on previous lessons and keep going.
Do not be afraid to celebrate the little and the big victories. The seemingly small changes that will unexpectedly erupt into bigger ones. Call it a win. Call it all a Win.