Friday, June 7, 2013

Speaking to the Sensitive

This lady writes the blog I love most. She is an honesty pioneer and one of my heroes.


Eight years old. Eight. Let's see...my kids just turned seven, so...seven plus one...is eight. I knew from her blog that Glennon felt guilty that she had all these problems when her childhood wasn't abusive or traumatic. But it wasn't until I saw this, that I realized how young she was when she started feeling this way. I imagined junior high. Those girls are mean. But no. Way before that. And I started to think about things I say or people close to my children say to them.

This is not something to get upset about.

You're a big (girl/boy) now and big (girls/boys) don't cry about these things.

You don't really feel that way.

I'm proud of how tough you are.

If these things aren't actually said, there's a clear implication that this is an overreaction and terribly inconvenient. When I see myself respond this way, I don't think I have the emotional energy to handle their strong feelings. Rather than admit my own tiredness or limits, I act like their feelings are the problem. If their feelings were a fire in my frying pan, I'd give anything to be able to slam a lid on it and squelch it instantly. That's all the energy I have. The sitting down next to angry little boy or girl and talking it through sounds like too much

But the cost of "easier for me" is distance between us. My unwillingness to enter their pain, pushes them away and they understand somewhere inside them, that it's because they have messy feelings. Their need to be close to me and fear of my rejection could motivate them to start hiding how they feel. While it may be more socially acceptable, I don't want that. 

Do I want them to fall into tears over everything in public? No. I know a lot of pain can come from being considered a cry-baby. But at home, I want them to know it's safe. Genuine tears can always flow. Not fake ones or tantrums. If those are heard in our house we ask them to stop pretending to cry. But real tears? If you can't cry at home, where can you do it? They need a safe place, a refuge from a sometimes cruel world. I always dreamed of providing that for my kids and now, I think I know how. 

I'll do more sitting next to and if I'm not capable of thinking it all through, maybe I'll say, "Mommy's too tired to figure this out right now. Let's cuddle and talk it through later when we both feel better." By the way, I swore I'd never talk about myself in third person before I became a parent - one of my main parenting pet peeves. But it happens. A lot. And it's still annoying. Back to the point...

I don't have to be perfect for my kids to be safe, but I do need to own it when it's my discomfort or my impatience that complicate a situation. It's like somewhere in my subconscious, lurks the idea that children should not be this much trouble. I don't know how many times I heard that children should be seen and not heard. While I've never repeated that to my children, I sure do wish it sometimes. I think that's because I haven't seen the alternative before today. I thought if they were struggling, I had to be a hero. Ride up on my white horse to help them process their feelings and guide them to the light of a peaceful conclusion or a better grasp of the big picture. See why I gave up? That hero business is too much for a little mamma at the end of a long day, clutching the steering wheel and just hoping to get home and get them in bed and hear the quiet.

But there's an alternative between the flying colors and the failure. This middle road of saying, "You're okay and I'm okay." Because the same permission for them to feel strong feelings, means it's okay that I feel strong feelings. Or get tired and space out. Which I can do while we cuddle. Mercy.  








P.S. If you feel, like I always do, that you need to hear more from Glennon, she just wrote a book and this is it. By the way, if you purchase it through this link, I get a small commission. 

2 comments:

  1. Your post really helped me today! I was reading it earlier and it reminded me of our current evening "situation". Getting my daughter ready for bed isn't the problem, but once we said good night and turn off the light, she starts with "stay here", "I don't want to be alone". And I'm tired. I want time for myself without anybody asking me something or calling me or wanting to tell me something. So I said to my daughter that everything is fine, and that we are close by. When, obviously, not everything is fine. It may not be something dramatic in my eyes, but it is important to her. So, today, after I turned off the light, I asked her if I should stay a little. Not surprisingly she said yes ;-). So, I sat down next to her bed, and sung some lullabies. After five or so, I kissed her goodnight. My daughter asked if I will leave now and I answered yes. And she said "ok"! I have to remind myself that sometimes that's all it takes - 5 to 10 minutes of being there. Not solving a problem, not explaining the world, just being there (and sing awfully ;-)). Sometimes even that is hard work, but most of the time it's doable.

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    1. I love that, Daniela! What they ask rarely as much as I make it in my head. And I think it's sweeter when someone sings badly because it's a true sacrifice of love. SO glad it went better for you and your little one. :)

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