As parents, we get overwhelmed. Sometimes, there’s no amount of deep breathing, no amount of wine and no amount of closet hiding that will console our frustrated brains. In those moments we need to remember one key thing: we are human.
There is no formula for easing the intensity of a highly emotional moment. This is good news! It’s perfectly natural for us to express our fire! Our children need to see us as sentimental beings. They need to trust they are free of shame for personalized expression. Emotional expression is healthy! It’s real and meaningful and worthy of our attention!
It is not the unleashing of emotions that will damage our children, it is the inability to ask and receive forgiveness from those who got caught in the cross- fire. We need to have open conversations with our children about moving emotions out in a productive way.
Today I found myself in a short tempered frenzy. I felt deeply, the soul- jerking exhaustion that goes with this ‘job’. I was having a “mom-trum” and despite my [sad] attempt at repetitive “warm/ fuzzy” breathing affirmations, there was no stopping the train wreck of ‘erraticness’ pouring out of me. In fact, the more I tried to fend off the sensations the hotter I got. My middle son took the opportunity to lash back at me. He screamed along with me forcing me to see myself in a fiery reflection.
I thought about being upset with him… How DARE he yell at me! I’m clearly NOT okay! I haven’t slept in days! The baby was up with night terrors for 4 hours! I’m depleted, beyond the bounds of my ‘normal’ functioning capacity! I can’t even DEAL with you right now, child!
Then I stopped my mom-trum, because I KNOW he feels I’m stretched thin… which is why he’s acting out.
He bellowed his frustrations for minutes on end until he was done and then stomped to his room in a 3 foot 8 sized huff.
My cheeks flushed and I stayed quiet for a bit.
I waited until he was upstairs for 5 minutes before I followed him. Then I sat with him, on his bed and hugged him…..
“Feel better?” I asked.
“Sorry Mommy.” he responded.
“I’m sorry too, buddy. I’m feeling frustrated today, I’m tired, but that’s not your fault.”
And that’s that. He was on his merry way.
It’s not about pretending our unfavorable moments don’t exist, It’s about bearing witness while another person (or kid) feels their feels.
We aren’t doing anyone favors by sweeping away the magnitude of importance a moment like this holds. It’s about understanding, compassion and forgiveness. We must show what it means to be expressive in ways that does not cause harm to others.
The goal isn’t perfectionism. Our children don’t need our perfection. Our children need humanity. They need positive examples of how to move through emotions in a healthy way.
The more we try connecting with deeply with the PURPOSE of our feelings, the easier it is to pave the way to shaping tolerant and accepting kids.
When our children see us taking time to cry, they learn that tears are an appropriate form of expression. When our children witness our rage it is imperative they know it isn’t a flaw.
We are not ruining our children when we yell. We are ruining them when we do not allow them the space to reciprocate the feelings. We can not reprimand them or be surprised when they use the same modality to unleash their own fire. We need willingly and lovingly to hold space for their process.
Emotions do not ruin children. As parents we need to start forgiving ourselves for being human. Our emotions are part of our natural design, they’re part of our story, they’re part of our soul dance.
So dance with all the elements that make you a good parent even when you don’t feel like one.
Emotions are a part of life, overwhelm is a part of parenting, and EVERYONE is worthy of receiving love, even in their unfavorable moments.