Transitions are hard. This is a statement I have made numerous times here. And in my head. It is a mantra I use to remind myself that it isn’t personal to me. It is psychology. Transitions are hard.
Tonight, Moose came home and immediately hugged me. I assumed this would be the kind of reunion I often get. One that is full of energy and giggles. Hugs and chatter. I was wrong. My son didn’t say a word. He just began moving through the house, almost in a trance. I peppered a few questions through his stroll. “Did you have a good weekend?” “Are you hungry?” The typical mom questions. He didn’t answer. Just meandered mutely. I crouched a bit. allowing our eyes to meet, and gently asked him if he was okay. He is currently out of school due to an exposure to COVID-19, so him feeling under the weather may be a possibility. Instead, he grumbled “I don’t want to talk to you”.
This is clearly preparation for the teenage years.
Though I don’t always love his moody expression, I remind myself that he is learning. Just like me. I calmly let him know that wasn’t a kind way to convey his feelings. Regardless, I gave him space. I only pressed when necessary, such as asking him gently to use his words when making requests versus relying on becoming a mime.
Before taking a perch nearby, I kissed his head and breathed “I’m glad you’re home” into his hair. His little voice echoed back softly “me too”. That was the extent of our exchange for nearly a half hour. Me, sitting at my computer, perusing work email and making task lists. Him, four feet away, playing Minecraft and humming. His audio output of comfort. A usual sign that he is tired or winding down.
A few moments ago, unbidden, he voice filled the room. He wasn’t going to finish this mission, he was going back to camp. “Why aren’t you going to finish the mission?” He casually informed me that it wasn’t a dangerous one, however he wanted to change his character. Cheer returned to his tone. And that was that. Now he was home.
I think we forget- I say ‘we’ because the solidarity of a group makes me feel better. But it is me. I forget that he has all of the same sensory input I do. The same level of emotion. Though not the same amount of experience. Wisdom. Boundaries learned over decades. Hence the constant reminder to myself, transitions are hard.
In a moment he is changes households. Holding the joy of being home within the same heartbeat as saying goodbye. He’s adjusting to a different set of household rules. Complex feelings. Fatigue from a long car ride.
His silence isn’t a weapon, it is a salve.
A brief period in which he can sort himself. Process. Adjust. It is my job to allow that intermission. Moreover, to encourage it. Give him the freedom to learn how to kindly express his needs. Support him.
I often get overwhelmed in transitions. It takes me a beat to segregate up from down. I need a space that I can take a deep breath. Collect my thoughts. It took me a long time to find my voice, to ask for said space without lashing out. I want Moose to have a head start on me. Encourage developing the skill now.
It is still difficult not to recoil. Tough to squelch the lump in my throat. Abandon the spiral that wants so much to suck me in. The one that wants to interpret his actions as an affront. I repeat the mantra. Transitions are hard. My expectations of the reunion are not met. However, he has no clue what my expectations are. Nor do they erase his needs.
I keep my voice level. Soft. My words kind. A balm for both of us. And I wait. I leave the proverbial door cracked. He will enter when he is ready. He always does.