I see you! I hear you! I love you!
Last night was filled with eye opening elevated conversation – In small terms “argument” Contrary to most peoples beliefs I think disagreements / arguments / conversations are healthy. They are healthy because they are a way of expressing oneself and when doing this with your partner you should be able to be raw – You should be able to be seen and heard- Be vulnerable.
The conversation was a simple disagreement, but during that little disagreement other stuff came up. For me it kind of opened my eyes as to why I do what I do-
Growing up my parents were busy- They had a lot going on. They had 7 children between them and I think somewhere in the 20-30 grand kid / great grand kid mark. Plus it was just a different time. I remember being told “what do you have to be stressed about” you are a kid. I also remember those feelings being big and feeling important. I remember most people making a joke about me being a cheerleader, and that feeling not great. The biggest for me was after my Dad died and everyone kind of hid stuff from me- No one told me that he was sick until it was apparent. Everyone kept saying that I was too young. Yes, I was young, but I wish that I would have treated like I could handle it or be given the opportunity to handle it. I remember showing up for a softball try out as a sophomore and the coach thanking us for coming to cheer them on.
This means that a lot of life I felt like I wasn’t being taken serious-
After Jacob was born I was clueless as to what I was doing and felt like I knew nothing, but I always wanted him to know that I take him serious. I hear him! I see him! At the age of 2 he loved to wear my heels around the apartment – They made awesome noises why wouldn’t he want to wear them. He wanted a baby doll at the age of 3, and why wouldn’t he baby dolls are fun to hold and do life with. He would take it to the park swing it, take it to the pool and swim with it. (No it wasn’t plastic) After the 3 week long journey with the baby doll it looked as if we found it in a dumpster. (immunity building) At the age of 4 he decided he didn’t want to call me Mom anymore. He wanted to call me Chrissy- why wouldn’t he? EVERY ONE else in the world calls me Chrissy. Why would I be offended about that and not let him try it out. After about a month or so one night during story time he asked if he could go back to calling me Mom. This is also the age that he requested that he be called Flash because Flash is the coolest name and of coarse you can be called Flash- I called his kindergarten teacher and explained to her that he wanted to be called Flash and that he learned how to write it and that from this point on his name would be Flash. She wasn’t thrilled with it but she allowed it. After about 2 months- He came home and said he wanted to be Jacob again.
When he was little we used to do a talking circle- This was about 3-5 minutes that we would sit and chat and he could tell me anything he wanted without getting in trouble. Sometimes he would say things like, “Mom, I really didn’t like what you cooked or Mom, the shirt that you bought me wasn’t great.” I would just respond with okay. Thank you for telling me. I tried so hard to not use my emotions and let him have his feels. The most memorable was when we were driving- he asked if he could have a talking circle- He was just starting 2nd grade and he said Mom, I don’t think you can come have lunch with me anymore because I’m big. This one was hard- I just said okay and asked if there was anything else. He said nope. I quickly turned the radio up while tears rolled down my face because it made me so sad. I didn’t allow him to see that sadness because I am in charge of my emotions and it’s not fair for a 7 year old to have to deal with my adult emotions. Plus I wanted him to feel like he could express himself without fear of hurting my feelings.
As time went on there were other things here and there: hairstyles, ear piercings, activities, interests, likes and dislikes. At the age of 8 he wanted to change his name to Hunter- We allowed him to go by Hunter for a little bit explaining that in 6 months if he was serious about the change we could legally change his name. As of now he’s still Jacob because it only lasted about 6 weeks…. Who am I to decide what his name should be. He’s the one that has to live with it for his whole life.
There are times when our kids have these huge emotions and they don’t know how to handle them- for instance when Chandler was age 2-3 Everyone says terrible two’s – I disagree… This age is hard because they have big big feelings and little tiny vocabulary. Chandler would pinch me, hit me, pull my hair. I would take lots of deep breaths and I sounded like a broken record. I would hold him so tight – Chandler, I am so sorry that you are feeling so sad and I am so sorry that you are feeling so frustrated. I would repeat over and over again for him to take breaths and I would show him. He would say You’re not my mom! I don’t like you! Most people would say something along the lines:
I’m you Mom and you are not going to talk to me like that or stop being disrespectful or some other for of having expectations that are not clear for a 2-3 year old. The truth is that Chandler was never trying to physically hurt me. I wasn’t trying to emotionally hurt me. It had nothing to do with me. Sometimes he was crazy tired, sometimes he was hungry, sometimes he was over stimulated, sometimes he just needed his Mama to hold him and love him. During this span of time it was hard and emotional and I would spend evenings just crying because I was emotionally drained. I tried my hardest to stay calm and I reminded myself “this too shall pass” I just think sometimes we need a reminder that these little’s have big big emotions and they just need you to show them how to channel it. They lash out at you because they have a safe feeling with you. It’s an opportunity to show them that no matter how big those emotions they are feeling are that you are bigger! You will take it! You will hear them! You will see them! You will show them that the feelings they have are valid.
Why am I bringing all of this up?
I’m bringing it up because a lot of parents struggle letting our kids explore different things and ideas. Parent’s struggle when our toddler acts out over something trivial… We will say things like why are they yelling at me or hurting me when I was the one trying to help… Understand that it has nothing to do with you. They are feeling hurt, tired, confused, hungry, they might be feeling overstimulated and they are doing what they can.
We as adults have days that our emotions are just off the hook and we can’t explain them. We just know that we are on edge for no apparent reason… Our little tiny tykes have these same feelings and they don’t have the words. Be compassionate with your little’s show them : You see them! You hear them! You love them! As they get older this will come into play.
Kids just want to be heard- They want to be seen – They want to be taken seriously. We have to understand that just because we have “adult stresses, adult communications, adult brains we shouldn’t put those expectations on our little’s. They are still learning.
From birth to 5 is such a big big time. It’s during this time you have to decide what you are showing them. Are you showing them that you see them? Are you showing them that you hear them? Are you showing them that they can trust you with the emotions they are feeling? Are you showing them that they can talk to you freely without being put down or disregarded? If you show them that you do not take them serious at these early ages they will not come to you as they get older because they won’t feel like they can without judgement.
Parenting is hard!! Ahhhhh it is sooo hard! None of us will do it perfect – We will all make mistakes and really just mess things up… My only goals as a Mom is to always show my kids that I see them! I hear them! They are loved! I think making a conscious effort to use these three things in everything that you do with your children makes all the difference. Everything else will fall into place!
We are in this parenting thing together! Next time you see a tired parent at the grocery offer a smile or a helping hand. Be part of the solution and not the problem. Do not cast your judgmental stares at the Mom losing her shit! Do not cast your mean looks at the Mom who’s kid is wearing a costume that looks like it hasn’t been washed in a year! Do not offer your opinion on whether or not that Mom is breastfeeding or bottle feeding… Do not cast your opinion on whether or not that’s Mom’s kids are throwing ginormous fits in the middle of the store.
Understand that in these situations we as Mom’s and Dad’s we are feeling all the feels and we are just choosing our battles and we are just doing what we can. What you can offer is a helping hand and smile and maybe even a few words: Your doing okay. This too shall pass! You got it Mama!
Let’s build each other up. Let’s help each other! Let’s offer help!