The other day WonderGirl was up on the changing table shouting in my ear while I was putting her in a new diaper. On the ground in the same room, meanwhile, SuperGirl started her crying/whining. You know that sound, moms. There might be 101 reasons why your child is making that sound, but you can usually identify it as different than the “I’m in pain” sound. This pregnancy, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been impatient a lot. Well, my first instinct when SuperGirl started crying was to tell her to stop. I said her name in that no-nonsense mom voice, and then looked at her–and realized that I had been wrong. She really was making the “I’m in pain” crying sound.
I felt bad, of course. In the moment, all I wanted was for some peace and quiet and for two little girls to stop making noise that annoyed me. All I cared about was how I felt–and I have to say, this is something that bothers me a lot when I get impatient. Because usually when I’m impatient, the situation has already gone so far in that downward spiral that it’s hard to put myself in my children’s shoes.
What if I hadn’t looked at her and seen that she really was in pain? What if I had used my stern mom voice to tell her to stop crying, like I was about to do, instead of immediately changing my tone and going to comfort her?
In all of our posts about grief and loss in one way or another this month on PBK, I think it’s safe to say that we openly acknowledge that we moms have many reasons to cry–and we do let it out as needed. Why, then, do I sometimes try to stifle that emotional reaction in my children?
I want my children to know:
Yes, it’s okay to cry when you’re in physical pain.
It’s okay to cry when someone hurts your feelings.
It’s okay to cry when you’re frustrated and need help.
It’s okay to cry when you’re scared.
It’s okay to cry when you don’t understand.
It’s okay to cry when you’re exhausted.
It’s okay to cry when you’re sad.
And when you grow up and become crazy hormonal at times, it’s okay to cry at those darn manipulative sentimental commercials.
As we’ve seen this month, grief comes through many different avenues. And although we might not all have gone through what someone else has experienced, we KNOW. We’ve shared similar losses, if not the same. We can imagine; we can sympathize.
I have to remember this when it comes to my children. My priorities might not be the same as theirs, and I might have the “bigger picture” when it comes to worries and troubles, but this doesn’t mean that their emotions are any less valid.
And today, when SuperGirl starts her “crying/whining” sound (as she inevitably does multiple times throughout the day), I’m going to try to change my instinctive response. Yes, she might just be overreacting or needing to find a better way to communicate what she wants, but I want her to know it’s okay to cry. Today, my first response will be to hug her.
Who knows? Maybe–just maybe–one day when she’s a teenager and I’m an ignorant mom, HER first response when she’s upset about something will be to come to me to cry. At least, one can hope. =)
I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too! www.lukasholmes.com), but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 8 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart. www.eliserome.com