The investment I have into the best interests of my children is a pivotal part of my Plan A. Meeting their needs and supporting them on their own journeys of empowerment provides me with deep, defining satisfaction. Choosing thoughts, words and actions which bring this value to life makes me more complete as a person. At every stage of their lives their needs have been my priority, my energy, and my delight. My children are central to my Plan A, leaving no room for Plan B.
Many of us know that loving our children is often times much easier than raising them. If we are honest we can admit that on some days, our love for them flows easiest when they are asleep. I often marvel at how deep that well of love must go, because I am yet to reach the bottom of it. Sometimes though, it feels like I am plummeting to my demise at a thousand miles an hour.
Loving Zac has been a bit like this. He is one of the most reflective, soft-hearted, sensitive people that I know. He likes warmth, security, and predictability. He struggles with change, transitions, and imposed expectations. As a result of all this, the concept of growing up in our blended family was not something he accepted until he was a young man. For years we battled the challenges that stemmed from Zac’s raw hurt and confusion. While I had every understanding of Zac’s pain, his brokenness brought behaviours that pushed our family to its own breaking point.
Zac expressed his rejection of our family situation through hateful words of abuse, lies and deceit, and violent actions of tantrums, theft, and physical confrontation. Zac’s fight or flight responses grew stronger over the years, with school truancy and running away from home scaring us almost as much as the material damage he would cause by throwing and destroying things. Zac’s childhood, and our journey as parents, was marked by bitter conflict, blistering emotions, and searing angst. I often doubted our ability to get through.
Zac was 4 when I left his dad, and 7 when we married Alec. At this young age, Zac had a hard time processing the new version of family that he belonged to. His adjustment problem initiated years of chaos in our family. While we all experienced the pain, unfortunately, Zac’s first line of attack was against Alec who withstood onslaught after endless onslaught of Zac’s worst tirades. It is important to understand that Zac didn’t hate Alec. He hated the divorce, and he hated having a step-father. It wasn’t Alec that Zac rejected, it was what Alec represented to Zac: separation from his dad, an imperfect family structure, and a lack of certainty in the place he needed it most. Plan A was to love Zac and provide everything he needed for growth and well-being. Any other alternative was inconceivable. And so, in True Love, we persisted through each season of Zac’s desperate need for security, working to our limits to provide a safe place he could always call home.
A couple of years ago Zac enjoyed a season of reflective recovery that brought closure to some of these horrible memories. As a 19 yr old he addressed the entanglement of this messiness, bravely admitting that his childhood behaviour was intended towards strategic sabotage of his imperfect family. He had healing conversations with all of us, and took the opportunity to apologise to Alec for the heartache that his behaviour caused. This changed their lives forever.
This might all seem frighteningly intimate to you, but Zac has permitted me to share his slice of our story. He agrees that the real life lessons our family has learned about relationship, love, and empowerment are conveyed best in the icky and uncomfortable parts. Each one of us enjoy a family connection that is honest and real, extending space to each other to simply be our developing selves, and offering grace to cover the shortcomings that this will entail. Our family is built first on a commitment to Love itself as Plan A. Love never falters or fails in any circumstance, and it always accepts the beloved, assuming that each one of us are doing the best we can with what we have. True Love leaves no room for any alternative.