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Standing Up to Unworthiness: When a Child Calls a Mother Out

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I love my son, Nick, forever and always. Nick knows he is loved. Feeling loveable is necessary, especially during upheavals.

Moving into a new place is disruptive for anyone. Boxes have to be packed and unpacked. Utilities disconnected and installed. Mail, rerouted. Habits that make life easier, like knowing the pathway to the bathroom in the dark, have to be newly created. New neighbors present universes to be learned. Grocery store aisles are unfamiliar. You know the drill.

For Nick, moving is doubly challenging. Nick is disabled. His disabilities are not visible to the eye. Nick struggles openly with anger management.

When Nick in uneasy, he easily transfers his discomfort to another person. Mom is a likely suspect. After all, no matter how raggedy or all-elbows a child gets, he knows Mom will love him through it.

One week after his move, Nick and I had lunch at a Thai restaurant. Nothing on the menu pleased him. That same night, with family friends, Nick loudly raged: “Mom! You didn’t do this. Mom, remember you didn’t do that! Mom! Mom!” I called on my usual tools for Oppositional Defiant Disorder: breathe, listen, don’t get hooked, state and maintain my boundaries. By the end of the evening, however, my buttons had been pushed.

I don’t like the raw feelings (resentment, hurt, rage) that can geyser out during conflicts. But I knew Nick and I needed to talk. Avoiding that conversation the next morning would have been easy. The storm would pass; but, the monsoon would continue to threaten.

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