Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Stay In Your Lane

"Stay in your lane."  My friend said to me looking me straight in the eye. "Just stay in your lane."  I felt like I had been kicked in the chest. Those sounded like fighting words. What had I said that offended her so much?

We were all talking and sharing personal stories about our children,  their behavior and school experiences.  Having a 15 year old special needs son and an 11 year old neuro-typical daughter presents a unique situation.  I am able to view issues from multiple views and understand that no two children or scenarios are the same.  What works for one child or one family may be an absolute disaster for another child or family.  What proves to be difficult or near impossible for one child may be the answer to many sleepless nights and unanswered prayers for another child.

Knowing this to be true, I often will contribute short stories about the difference with special needs parenting or how it is important to figure out the root cause behind behavior before panicking about what the parents think is happening. 

"When you volunteer information about your Zach, no one can really understand or see themselves in your shoes. So maybe you should just stick to stories about Lily."

Tears poked at the corners of my eyes. What?  Did my "friend" just tell me that I needed to only talk about my daughter and not about my son because he has special needs? My tongue is sharp, and often needs to be tamed. I am fully aware that it needs taming, and sometimes on a daily basis.  I can be defensive, argumentative and often times a bit sarcastic when left to my devices. I feel the need to justify, explain, over explain and persuade as I make my opinion and voice be heard. I am emotional and wear my heart on my sleeve. When I feel under attack, especially when it involves my children, my claws come out quickly. Or I cry. Usually, I just cry and excuse myself.

I wiped a stray tear. Took a deep breath and exhaled. " The reason I share stories about Zach is often times because many parents are in panic mode and can't handle what they experiencing with their teenagers. I am not going to remain silent in conversation just because I am not experiencing what other parents are going through with their kids.  When I share stories about Zach, it is often from a different perspective, often slightly humorous and a bit of fresh air.  He is a funny kid and his approach to life can be so freeing when compared to the self imposed stress filled lives that many teens live.  I am not trying to say that I am a better parent, I am not trying to one up you, or distract from the matter at hand. I am trying to be apart of the conversation. Apparently I failed."

The last part came with much more gusto and sarcasm than intended. I quickly removed myself from the group and continued to another conversation. My eyes were probably glossed over and I don't remember a word that was said. All I knew is my feelings were hurt. Deeply hurt.  Why was someone I called a friend so vicious and cutting over my sweet Zach?   Driving home, I cried a little, got angry and then prayed that I would be able to just let this whole situation go. When I was finished praying, I started thinking about the why? Why did it seem like I was under attack?  This friend seemed to always love Zach, was it the story I relayed, or was something else happening here?  It was how I was sharing my stories.  I start many things by saying, What worked for us with Zach is... and then continue sharing what worked. I usually don't start the conversation explaining the 132 times we as parents had failed.  All of that failure is what led us to the success we now see.  The way I was telling stories about Zach made it sound like, I , me, Kelli J Gavin, the hot mess of mom that most know me to be, actually had it all together and that somehow I knew the answer to all of the important questions.  This couldn't be farther from the truth. My confidence and ability to tell stories was leading others to think that I thought I was the best dang mom in the world. A mom who had my act together and had perfect kids.  For the Love of All Things Holy. It is the exact opposite.  Come spend a single day in my home. I will show you what is true.

Someone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Someone is bound to be snippy.  Someone breaks my favorite coffee mug. Someone won't turn off the news when are told to 4 times.  Someone is whining that there isn't anything to do. That same someone is complaining about how much of their summer curriculum they have left to do.  Someone figured out where the graham crackers are and ate all but the crumbs which were intended for a bed time snack.  Someone needs to change her shirt because the smoothie she packed for lunch at work spilled all over her when she was pouring it into the tumbler. (That was me. That was totally me.)  Someone ate all of the other persons favorite breakfast cereal. Someone discovered that same someone consumed all of the orange juice.  This and more happens by 8 am. And that is considered a good day. 

After my heart heals a bit more, I will change how I share stories about my kids.  I will first establish common ground. I will comment, I am sorry that this is happening, I know how frustrating that can be.  And then if I feel the other person is receptive, I will share the struggle, what I learned from wading through those deep waters and then what the outcome was, positive or negative.  I also have come to realization that it is totally okay to just listen. To sit back and listen and absorb what someone has to say without offering a comparable story in return. Because let's face it. I have a lot of stories to tell, and most have heard them all already.

Yes, it is going to take me awhile to make the changes that need to be made when it comes to sharing family stories.  But knowing that I struggle when it comes to listening, I think I will benefit from doing this.  I often retain only partial important information shared with me from other people, probably because I am in constant prep mode. Preparing for what I will say next. I need to be silent. Silent more often than not.  Listening, digesting other peoples stories and enabling others to be heard.  Because way down deep, that is probably what we all want.  To be heard. 

In my lane is where I will be in case you need me.

1 comment:

Brass Knuckles

         I love telling stories. I also love retelling stories that aren't mine. Stories that have been shared with me. Stories overhear...