I believe there’s an apology in order. An apology to my son.
I know there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. I know this in my core. And not just because I can look back on my childhood and see the mistakes my parents made that impacted my life. But because I can look at my life right now and see all the mistakes I am making that are negatively impacting my son’s life.
I’ve often joked that, “I’m giving him something to talk to his therapist about later in life.” The sad truth is that because of my lack of knowledge about perimenopause, there are about five years of our lives when I gave my son a lifetime of trauma to discuss in therapy.
In my late 30s and early 40s, my son was young, under the age of seven. It was a time when he was learning about the world and exploring his boundaries. And for the most part, I was a loving, compassionate, supportive mother. I celebrated his victories, wiped away his tears and cherished every moment together.
But there were some days when my emotions ran hot. When I felt this deep, dark anger running through my veins. When I was exhausted and overwhelmed by life, and unfortunately, by my son and his energy and emotions. There were days when I just couldn’t cope. And I didn’t.
Instead of being a responsible adult and keeping my emotions in check, I let them boil over and explode. As I raged, there was a part of my brain that knew my reactions were over-the-top and uncharacteristic for me, but I couldn’t stop them. I couldn’t figure out how to reign them in and get back in control. And sometimes, I didn’t want to.
And so I raged. I screamed. I cried. I had tantrums that would put a two-year old to shame.
There was even a time when my son heard me say through the door at a therapy session that, “Some days I wish I never had a child.” It was said in a time of complete and utter exhaustion. When I felt so overwhelmed by life, was barely keeping my head above water and was beyond frustrated because I couldn’t figure out why. I now know it was perimenopause.
But really, the reason doesn’t matter. They were misplaced words about my personal despair. They should have never been vocalized – ever. But especially not with my son in the next room. And you thought you were messing up your kids.
Hindsight is 20:20.
Now I know that, at that time, I was in perimenopause and that those feelings of rage were a result of fluctuating hormones. A lack of progesterone. A surge of estrogen. A rollercoaster of hormones creating a tornado of emotions. My husband would come home from work to find us both in a puddle of tears on the floor.
I never hurt my son physically. I channeled those powerful emotions into my appliances and now desperately need a new fridge and dryer. But I still regret all my emotional outbursts. I regret them to my core.
And I don’t know this for sure, but I believe that if I understood that I was in perimenopause, if I even knew what perimenopause was, that I would have acted differently in those situations. I think if I knew what was happening to my body and hormones and how these impacted my emotions that it would have helped me maintain more control. And that I would have asked someone for emotional support and/or medications to help me manage my untameable hormones and my wild emotions.
I can’t go back in time.
And so instead, I write this apology to my son…
My Darling Boy,
I am so sorry that you had to witness your mother in the throes of rage. That must have been scary for a little boy.
I’m sorry if I ever made you feel like you were standing on shaking ground. Like the world was a scary place that you needed to fear. Instead of embracing it with arms open wide and learning about all of its magic and opportunities.
I’m sorry if there was ever a moment that you didn’t feel completely loved, cherished and remarkable. The truth is that you fill my heart with an overwhelming flood of love that is almost impossible to put into words.
I’m sorry for making you feel ashamed. Unfortunately, you’ll encounter enough of this on your own during your life.
I’m sorry for making you doubt yourself and for putting negative voices in your head. I know from experience that these will bubble up during your most vulnerable moments. In your mind, they will sound like your voice and so you will believe them to be true. But trust me. Those are my insecurities and fears and doubts, not yours. The truth is you are unstoppable and invincible and I wish I had told you this every day.
I was so overwhelmed. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.
But I do now. And like Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”
And so my promise to you is that starting today, I will do better. It definitely helps that I understand perimenopause now and that thanks to a little progesterone, I’m more in control of my emotions.
But hormones aside
My promise to you is that I will put down my phone and be present with you.
I will try to set aside my need to always teach you a lesson and instead learn to listen to you and laugh with you.
I will try to stop projecting my own insecurities and fears onto you, and let you make your own decisions, and even mistakes.
I will do my best to always make our family feel like a safe haven from life’s storms. A place where you can always turn to for love, support and understanding. Where you can always be your honest and authentic self, no matter what.
I know I’m not going to be perfect every day. I know I’m still going to make mistakes.
But I will do my best to make up for those dark and confusing perimenopause days.
I will do my best to always show you love and support. To make you feel heard and understood. To help you to feel powerful, unstoppable and invincible.
Love forever and always,