I am writing this as I lie next to my nine year old son. He is home from school today and wants me to stay close to him, I am more than happy to oblige. He has been in and out of sleep most of today. He was up many times last night because of a high temperature that triggered a number of nightmares.
From a young age he has experienced night terrors. He would sit up in bed screaming and crying and nothing would seem to calm him. Some nights his nightmares would be more extreme and he would be walking or running around the house, crying, yelling and telling someone or something (that only he could see) to go away. The look on his face would be of pure terror, his eyes would glaze over and he would be inconsolable. Although the nightmares are becoming less and less frequent as he gets older, they seemed to roll in thick and fast last night. He wouldn’t let me hold him close or soothe him. I felt completely helpless and heartbroken watching him wrestle the ‘demons’.
In the light of day I look upon his peaceful face and I want so much to be able to click my fingers and make him feel better, for him to never experience those ‘demons’ again.
As he lies so peacefully I am reminded of when he was a baby and feel overwhelmed at how much he has grown - how much he has taught me about life.
I have a startling realisation that in another nine years he will be 18! Oh wow! My heart is racing! I remind myself to savour this moment, cherish that he wants me to stay close and in this moment I can make him feel safe.
As I look at him I wonder what life has in store for him? Without a doubt there will be many more times when I will want to click my fingers and save him from the pain, I will want to protect him, but I know it's not possible. He is on his unique journey, he sees the world in his very unique way, he will make choices that he will wish he hadn’t made and I won’t be able to change that. In this moment I have a true sense that he is from me but certainly not me, that I can only support him and love him, but unable to control his life in any way.
I smile as I remember the time when he was only two and he told me I wasn’t ‘strong enough with (him)’. Excuse me? When he told me how different he felt because he didn’t even like football let alone love it like his brothers and his dad; the times that he has come up to me and said ‘I think dad needs a hug’ and the many times he has been frustrated with me for not listening to him. He continues to question me, correct me and makes me stop and look at why I do the things I do, he speaks his truth even when he knows it will make him ‘different’.
As I kiss his warm cheek and smell his sweet smell, I say a prayer that he will stay true to his uniqueness, that he continue to speak his truth, that he will show himself and others compassion and that any pain that comes his way he will take what he needs from the experience and know the pain will pass.
Thank you my beautiful boy for all you have taught me about life, may you continue to challenge me and watch me grow!