Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Someone Else's Pain

My 18-year-old son got his heart broken recently and I was reminded of something my husband said when we were contemplating having a child:
"Why would you bring into the world someone whose pain you'll feel more acutely than your own?"
I hate it when he's right. My entire body aches for my son, who's so puzzled because there was no sign of impending trouble, so he was caught off guard. The girl's confused and wants to be friends, but each encounter tears another hole in his heart.

My son is pretty stoic about his troubles, but after working an entire shift with her he called to ask me to wait up, if I could, so he could talk about it. He has always hated any of my questions about his social life. To ask for my support this way tells me he's hurting a great deal.

Of course I'm honored he trusts me enough to turn to me, but I so want to help him. What can I do to ease his pain?

I listened, I supported, I gave gentle advice, reminding him this is no reflection on his character or attractiveness, that he's been a terrific boyfriend, that he has to decide whether it's more painful to spend time with her as a friend than to go it alone. I told him that like everything in life, his feelings will change. It just takes time.

Still, I want to take this all away. Of course pain is part of life, but I somehow want to guard him a little longer. I guess that's a parent's eternal dream.

If only there were a guide for parents: "How to handle your child's heartbreak." Maybe I should get on that. Right now I'm going to pound a pillow and yell it all out.

Dawn Atkins

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Dawn. I'm so sorry. Give your son a hug from me. Bless his heart. Young love is a fragile, wonderful and terrible thing. That first heartbreak is the worst. As a mother I know how you feel about wanting to shield your child from any and all pain. Especially the emotional kind because you can't treat it with some medicine and make it go away. Only time can do that.

    Hugs to you both,