Earlier today, Janine asked "what's your mommy motto?"
I had to use mine today. My head is full of the drama with my sister. She is clueless because I decided that I've made a choice for myself and my family. I don't need to seek her out and let her know what she did wrong or how I feel about it. The subject will come up when she's not invited to our family functions or when we don't respond to calls. It may sound passive aggressive, but I just can't stomach the fight, the screaming (she's an emotional bully who will scream in your face and shut you down if you disagree with her), or the toxicity she'll leave in her wake.
With a head this full of hurt and anger, I knew I had to call on my favorite motto: A change of scenery cures most ills. I dressed us in play clothes, grabbed a handful of dice, and led us out to our camper. The mountain man opened it yesterday to get it aired out in time for camping this weekend, so it has been inviting us all day. We tromped out there and set up shop at the table.
While rolling dice and finding matches or aiming for the highest total, I had a calm conversation with my son where I asked probing questions and pushed a little bit further each time. Why didn't you tell us sooner? Did you know it was wrong? How did it make you feel to keep such a big secret from us? Do you understand why you should tell us these things?
As we unraveled the knot of this secret, his tears flowed freely. He said, I don't want to be a liar. I want to tell you all the things in my life. I want to be a good person. I assure him that he is a wonderful person. That he has an amazing heart. That he is a child who was taken advantage of by a grown up. I confide to him that I look at him and think I am so blessed that you are my son. I tell him to remember this feeling, this open ache of a secret exposed, the next time an adult -- any adult -- asks him to lie to or hide things from his parents.
I tell him that the next time someone asks him to betray his instincts and go against his morals, he must think about the person he knows he is -- his courageous and gentle soul, his powerful spirit and enduring optimism, his love for us and himself -- and say, I will not be the small and untrustworthy person you are. With soft eyes, he laid against me and cried. I rubbed his back and let the anger drain out of me.
We needed the change of scenery to get to the heart of this thing and work through all the small and winding fears attached to it. Unfamiliar smells and a break from our routine gave us both the chance to listen and hear and think outside the parameters of our day-to-day lives and lessons. We stepped outside of life for an hour and returned feeling heard and understood and safe. I can't recommend it highly enough.