How to REALLY deal with conflict

Of course.

Yesterday I posted about how to avoid (unproductive) conflict and how my son and I navigate it.

The Murphy’s Law of Being Mom descended full force.

Law of Being Mom #456 if you say, hint or even have a thought that you are even close to having a facet of being a mom settled, you will be tested. And you will not see it coming.

Jordan came home after going to his dad’s to “relax and play video games.” He texted us. We knew where he was. No clue why this sat sideways on me except I don’t understand needing to relax after 10 days of school. I judged him. I asked about homework, and a little yard work. That landed on him sideways. Whenever something hits us sideways, our response will land on someone else – sideways.

I involved a snack because empty stomachs don’t resolve anything.

After talking to him (I’ll admit, unwarranted) about him actually doing homework, he finally opened his homework on the kitchen table and said, “Well, what if I don’t go to college? What if I just drive to California and figure out film and get a job? What if I do that?”

Because I just spent 2 hours writing a blog post and really marinating in conflict ideas, I actually didn’t answer him. I was convinced the food had not yet hit his blood stream and he knows not what he speaks of.

I was sure he was kidding.

If he was not kidding, I just read an article by my friend Amy Fortney Parks on her son taking a year off to find himself, “The Four Year College Isn’t the Only Road”.¬† If Jordan wanted to find himself, surely he could go to Amy’s house- I think she’s in California. No, wait, Virginia.

But he didn’t stop there because he wanted to make a point.

He poured some juice while I was pretending to spend an extra 7 minutes in the refrigerator so I didn’t have to show him how my face looks when my mouth is open and I don’t know what to say.

He, as every teen does, continues, with complete conviction, “Are you telling me that if I wanted to go to California that you wouldn’t give me even a little of my college money to go figure out film? You wouldn’t SUPPORT me? ”

Oh yes. Yes he did.

I’m incredibly aware that my internal dialogue should stay internal, and that this is what makes me an amazing mother. But lest you ever, ever think that I represent or tout a perfection to motherhood, here’s what I was thinking (but did NOT say) :

You did not just say that to me. I’m going to look at your face and ask you to repeat the question just so I can see if you ask me that with a straight face. Like, you really think this. Yes we talked about a gap year. But last week I dropped everything to go visit a college rep with you at a coffee shop so you could talk to them about APPLYING. Oh. And your principal got you into a school of the arts JUNIOR class so you can INTERN so when you APPLY you might GET IN. Here. Let me gas up your car. Here’s the $500 you were getting for that first semester of college. Make it work. Oh gosh. The conflict blog post: Don’t have an agenda. Don’t go down rabbit trails. Take space. Breathe in a paper bag. I should have written breathe in a paper bag.

Yeah. I know.

So, after taking 20 seconds to run THAT mess through my head, and after asking him to repeat his question, sending him a signal that this is prooooobbbably not a good idea, and seeing that he halfway smiled as he asked it, I responded with this completely mediocre response:

“I have resources for you to go to college. Should you not want them for that, you’ll be on your own.” And I walk away. I don’t know what room I’m even going to. I just walk. I don’t walk to leave him. I walk because he doesn’t deserve one breath of anger, frustration, or anything else that pulls apart connection.

I’m thinking this leaves me room to change my mind later, let’s say if he somehow makes connections on his Instagram with 5,000,000 people who live in CA and can pull off running the camera for a major motion picture and I miiiiight want him to say my name when he gets nominated for an award one day. “Thank you mom for that $500.”

And for today, this answer is as objective as I get. I honestly was not able to carry on the conversation further without freaking out and I knew that. So I took some space and found a brown paper bag.

He said no more.

I said no more.

And found myself upstairs with my Wayne Dyer book on inspiration.

Take THAT Law Of Being Mom.

Vikki

Momifesto

While I’m dodging the next (unproductive) conflict, you can find my book, Momifesto: A Manifesto of 9 Practices for Phenomenal Moms¬† Here