“You ain’t gonna make me come outta myself!” is one of Chadwick Boseman’s lines as James Brown in the film Get On Up. I recently revisited the film and remain in awe of Boseman’s performance of course, but this time, it was that line I carried away into my week. The line, unbeknownst to me, remained perched in the forefront of my mind, and became a central reflection point for me when a personal matter arose regarding one of my children.
Now, there isn’t a whole lot that can make me “come outta myself.” The hair-trigger reactions of youth subsides with age and experience, affording one the wisdom to take a brief moment to decide if something or someone is even worth the very precious time it would cost to address. I consider this a real perk of getting older. There is a satisfying feeling that, if you could put a name to it, I suspect the name would be, “oh lord, not today” or “OLNT.” Try taking a deep breath and on the exhale say the words or the acronym and tell me that you don’t feel a release.
Anyway, it’s been so many years since I’ve had the out of body experience of coming out of myself that I really didn’t think anything would come up in my life to make that happen; however, I was woefully mistaken.
As a mother of adult children, all of whom are on very different paths in life and encountering all of the rewards as well as the difficulties of the decisions they’ve made, the latter can sometimes drift into my lane and I’m called on to support and advise. This is especially so if it’s of the relationship nature, as was the case a few days ago, when my son brought his co-parenting difficulties to my front door. He is experiencing the usual text book case of mismatched individuals coming together and making a child. They get hit with the reality of parenting which is often mistaken as Gorilla Glue for relationships, but in reality is only a bottle of Elmer’s glue that succumbs to the least amount of pressure, allowing all of the haphazardly assembled pieces to fall apart.
I went into the situation that was brewing by advising my son to be flexible with the mom as that is what’s best for everyone. I reminded him that she had been flexible on occasion. To his meager credit, he conceded and the transition went forward. However, at the same time heated words were being exchanged, and like a virus, the words branched out into my direction, which I was not prepared for. Being caught off guard, I failed to go high and came out of myself and was directly cast into hell where the expletives pop off like corn in a sizzling pan. Woo chile!
I hadn’t realized the correlation between the scene in Get On Up until the early morning of the next day. In the scene, James Brown was confronted by his band members for lack of pay among other things. Mr. Brown said that he’d take their concerns under consideration to which the drummer jumped up and said “Fuck you!” That’s when Mr. Brown lost his composure and came up out of himself while warning them not to further provoke him.
Just to ensure clarity, the band’s complaints had merit, while the attack upon my character as well as parenting style did not. To be further clear, during the two-year long relationship, nobody in my family had the opportunity to even get to know the girl or her family and we still barely know them and are quite content to keep it that way.
Nonetheless, I’d reflect on how the situation made me feel when I woke up in the middle of the night to a feeling of anxiety and disappointment in myself for not handling the matter better. I had realized that I had, in fact, come out of myself and that the feeling had continued to simmer long after everyone had left.
I whole-heartedly believe that there is always a way to handle conflicts without things rising to the level of anger and irrational thoughts but one has to be prepared. Much like the training the youngsters underwent during the Civil Rights movement that prepared them for being spit on and worse during the lunch counter sit-ins. Just like that situation, this matter has a racial component to it as well, which adds to the amount of irrational thought and behavior that has the potential to continue for the next 17 years at least.
After thinking about this and getting these words down, I feel that should those things continue to happen, they will continue to happen without any participation from me. I support all of my children when they are right, when they are having difficulties doing the right thing, I counsel and provide solid guidance. At the end of the day, they are adults shaping their own lives, the same as I did. I have faith that the challenges will be overcome, lessons will be learned, and better days are always ahead, that’s how life goes when your heart is truly in the right place.
If you’d like to share an experience you’ve had parenting 20 somethings, I’d love to read it, so please leave it in the comments. Sharing is caring.