Recently I found my son sitting on his bed, teary and staring off into space. Mommy radar brought me up to his room. I sensed a disturbance in the mommy force.
“What’s wrong?” I ask as I pull him into my lap. He curls up like he did when he was smaller except now he is all limbs and on the cusp of tween angst.
“Mom, I hate your illness!” he cries and throws a pillow across the room. (My heart shatters into like a gazillion pieces. It’s been a particularly hard season for our family recently with mommy in bed way more than usual.)
“Me too, bud. Me too.” I wipe a tear from his cheek.
“It’s not fair!!”
“We don’t get to do all the things my friends’ families do because you’re too sick.” (Oh how I admire my little boy’s courageous heart to speak truth.)
“I’m so sorry honey. It sucks, doesn’t it?”
Wide eyed, he whispers “Mommy, you said the “S” word!”
“Well… sometimes that’s the right word for the situation. And this one way more than stinks. Don’t you think?”
He nods solemnly as if being imparted a deep secret from the universe.
His eyes brighten a bit. “So… can I say it?”
“Just with me. It’s our secret. Go on, say it!”
He grins mischievously.
“You being sick sucks mom.” He hides his face and giggles a bit.
“Well now, I think you are going to need to say it louder than that. I mean it really sucks.”
He stands on his bed and shouts “IT SUCKS!!!”
I stand. “IT DOES SUCK!!!”
“BEING SICK SUCKS!!!” we yell in unison – throwing more pillows and stuffed animals off the bed.
We collapse into giggles on the bed and lay on our backs for a while looking at the ceiling.
“Yeah… sucks,” he sighs and melts back into me. “But we should probably stop saying that word now.” (Sage advice my little Yoda.)
“You’re right buddy. We should. We’ll just put the word away for the next time we need to talk about my illness and how it affects you. Sound like a plan?”
“Yup! I’m going to go play now.” He skips off, seemingly 100 pounds lighter. I can’t help but smile through the tears overflowing in my eyes.
This exchange took only a few minutes but did both of us a world of good. Oh how brave that boy is.
Speak truth. Uncensored. Real. Raw. Release.
And sometimes that takes a few bad words in the process.
(Wait until he’s a teenager. I’m sure we’ll be sharing some other “naughty words” together.)
Our life is messy and hard and at times sucky. But it’s also beautiful. And that moment was beautifully therapeutic.