Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me….
Yes. Yes they can. Especially when flung at you by family. Yesterday was a really hard day for me. As many of you know, I: 1) homeschool my son and, 2) published my first book at the beginning of this month. These two topics are seemingly unrelated if you were not in my home yesterday.
I homeschool my son. Though we’ve been doing this for years, I quit my full time job in October and took over the homeschooling from my mom. Truth be told, I sucked at getting it all done everyday until recently. I let my semi-failing health and the confusion of life get the best of me and my son’s education suffered. Thankfully, we go year round, so the time off was counted as his break. However, I set myself up for a rough time schooling him now. He’s autistic and, while he is brilliant at overcoming some of those obstacles, change is crippling for him. For me to be so casual about his schooling and then crack down, means his world is wrong and he’s angry. He’s also 13. He hangs out online with a group that is angry and depressed because they’re teenagers in a world that is angry and depressed. Unfortunately, he’s picking up on those habits and it’s making his world harder. Yesterday, we came to verbal blows about the attitude I’m getting when I try to do his schooling. Especially when it comes to writing papers. He said some mean things in a mean tone. With everything going on in my world, I let it hurt me more than I should have. He’s a teenager. They say things they don’t really mean when they’re angry. I did….
The second part of the breaking of me involves publishing my book. I wrote the book. Two people edited the book. I made changes. They reviewed. I sent it to the publishing company with which I was working. They sent me back developmental edits. I worked on those. I sent it to another paid editor. I fixed what she found. THEN I decided to self-publish after the publishing house with first rights of rejection rejected it stating they were taking the company in a different direction moving forward. Which, looking at the titles they’ve released this year, they have. Totally different direction than my book. So, I self published, because I’d already put a huge amount of time, energy, and money into the manuscript. On February 3rd, it was birthed. It’s beautiful. It’s mine. I was talking to my mom yesterday, in the midst of the struggle with my son’s paper, about how much editing it took. I mentioned finding a typo on page two and how that still bothers me. That’s when another relative spoke up stating that there were many more typos than just that one. AFTER ALL THAT EDITING!
And that’s when I broke. I started to cry. I felt ashamed of my book baby. I felt like I was a crap mother and a lousy teacher. What made me think I was smart enough to be a writer in the first place? How could I think I could teach my son when I’d produced a load of crap that PEOPLE WERE READING?! Y’all, the embarrassment was huge. It took several hours of feeling like a failure to get through the depression into which I spireled after those two things broke me.
BUT, I learned something important… What we say and how we say it has a profound effect on the people around us. My son loves me. I know that. Yesterday was a hard day for him and he was taking it out on me. My relative is often snarky and mean. They don’t look for the joy in the day, nor do they ever look for things to praise. That’s not on me. That’s on them.
Today, my son dove into his schoolwork. I argued once with him because his assigned reading book is boring him to pieces. That’s ok. He still has to read it. It’s required. I reminded him of that and he’s smiling and happy again. My relative sat down with their copy of my novel to go through and find the typos. I’ll revise the manuscript and release a second edition. It’s not the end of the world. Danielle Steel is wildly popular and her books are filled with many more errors than mine is.
From this moment forth, however, I will take a moment before criticizing anything, saying anything judgemental, because yesterday literally broke me and I had to put the pieces together. I am a puzzle fitted together with glue and patched with tape. I don’t want to be the one that breaks anyone else like that and I will continue to teach my son how to be someone who offers glue instead of using a hammer.