I’ll never forget the first time my daughter saw me cry. This doesn’t include the times I rocked her to sleep as an infant crying from lack of sleep. This was the “OMG my daughter just saw me cry and for the first time it affected her and me. I was sitting on the floor in my bathroom. She was roughly ten months old. I don’t even remember what I was crying about in that particular moment, I do know that it was when I realized something was wrong and I needed help. It was when I knew I had Post Partum Depression. She waddled her way into the bathroom and plopped her cute little diaper bottom right onto my lap. Yes, it made me cry even harder. I originally went into the bathroom so I could let loose with my sadness in private. I look back on that day now and realize I was only trying to protect my sweet girl from seeing her Momma so upset but I wasn’t teaching her that it was OK to be sad sometimes. Then last week happened.
My children have seen me cry before, not often though. I broke down in front of them the other day and it made me realize that It’s not OK to keep my feelings in. My daughter has such a hard time talking about her feelings and I sit here and wonder why?? What am I teaching her if I’m not talking about my own feelings? Sure I can say to her “Oh Momma gets scared before going to a party where I may not know a lot of people too, it’s OK to be scared.” or “Momma gets scared at night sometimes too.” I’m always backing up her feelings. I’m never talking about my own. Then last week happened.
I know how important it if for my kids to see us feel, struggle and even fail. Life isn’t perfect and I don’t want my kids going out into the world thinking that life will always go the way they’d like it. Yes teaching them that if you work hard you can accomplish your dreams, but It’s so so important to talk about the imperfections as well. All we can do as parents is learn and move on. I’m not calling my actions mistakes anymore because they aren’t mistakes, I’m learning just like every other parent out there. Then last week happened.
I’ve read in every book, magazine and blog article on line that kids learn by example. Sometimes I’m just not good with the follow through. Have you ever threaten to take something away from your child if they “do bla bla bla” one more time. Then you don’t take away that said item. I’m bad at it. My oldest is at the age where she gets things taken things away but she’s still not making the connection that if she does that said thing one more time she will loose whatever it is I am threatening from her. Then there is my two and a half year old, forget it, counting to three actually makes him laugh! Then last week happened.
It was one of those mornings where both kids pulled everything they could possibly pull to not get out the door to school. I have one day a week where I have to be home by a certain time for my part time job. Wednesdays. You better believe that every Wednesday I’m tested to no end. This one was no different. They refuse to put shoes and socks on because running into the play room and trying to play is way more fun. All of a sudden oldest “needs” juice, but I say no because I’m trying to get them off of juice. That in turn sets my youngest off so now he is crying for juice too. We must follow big sister. Coats do not want to get put on, toys they “need” are requested and the best one, I need a belt. The one day I forgot to ask her if she needed a belt. I leaned up against the wall, sunk down to the floor, held my head in my hands and I just cried. Then something beautiful happened.
Both of my kids stopped the fussing and whining and they both wrapped their arms around me. My daughter said “It’s OK Momma.” Yes it made me cry harder. Here we are four years later and my sweet daughter was yet again comforting me. At first I almost took a deep breath and made myself stop, but I didn’t. I hugged them both back and simply said Thank You. I enjoyed the moment, I smelled the sweet scent of my daughters hair and kissed the top of my sons head. I wiped my tears, took a deep breath and just said “OK come on lets get in the car.” Yes my son continued to push by refusing to walk down the stairs, and yes I remained calm and waited for him to come down on his own by counting to 3. It worked! We got in the car and drove to school. Then something beautiful happened.
It left open a conversation with my children I will never forget. It opened my eyes in a way I have never felt. It was the perfect moment. My kids were quiet for the first few minutes of the 10 minute ride to school. I looked in the rear view mirror and said Thank you for my special hugs. They both replied with your welcome Momma. I then proceeded, “you know sometimes Momma gets sad too, you may not know how or why but I get sad and frustrated just like you do.” No response. I continued. “Do you know what makes me feel better when I feel sad or frustrated?” my daughters response was no what? I said “Just a hug from you guys.” No response, but I saw the wheels turning. I then asked her “What makes you feel better when you get sad or frustrated?” Her response was I forget. I said “OK well I want you to think about it so the next time you get sad or frustrated Momma can make you feel better like you made me feel better today OK?” She just said OK. Then something beautiful happened.
It then lead to a conversation between my husband and I where we both realized we need to openly “feel” more in front of the kids, we need to cry more in front of the kids and most importantly we need to talk about it more in front of everyone. Children lead by example and it doesn’t make us weak to openly cry in front of them. I’m so thankful that last week happened and because of it something beautiful came from it.
Since that day I am now getting random hugs from my daughter when she senses me being frustrated or sad about something. She is the most beautiful thing that has happened to me.