I cried yesterday, and I absolutely terrified my 10 year old daughter.
She was mad at me because I said no about something, and when I went to hug her, she tried to duck me and instead, the back of her head hit me square in my mouth. It HURT. I know I shouted out when it happened, and then my eyes instantly filled with tears. And then they fell out of my eyes, and my kid fell apart.
While I was in the bathroom dealing with a bleeding mouth and a quickly swelling lip, I was also saying things like, “Try to take a deep breath,” and “I’m ok,” and “I know you’re sorry,” and, in a moment of weakness, “Why is this all about you right now?”. She could not stop crying, and it took about 20 minutes to get us back to where we were. The good news: she’d forgotten she was mad at me. The bad news: she seemed mildly scarred from seeing me cry.
I definitely considered myself a crier for most of my life. It was a pretty normal reaction to stress for me (or Sarah McLaughlin dog commercials). About five years ago, however, I went on a mild anti-anxiety medication, and tears definitely don’t come as easily now. My kids don’t see me cry often, and my husband is not a crier. They don’t see adults expressing emotions that way very often, and I wonder how that affects them.
So far, it has not made them less likely to cry, and for that I am grateful. My kids share their big feelings all the time, and I like to think we do a good job of addressing them. We talk about their emotions and positive ways to manage them. When a big emotional explosion happens, we ride it out with them and process with them once it passes. I tell them about some of the ways I handle stress or sadness, like journaling, listening to music, and going for walks. I try to model self-care.
I also recently told the kids that I see a counselor once a month. I have anxiety, there’s a pandemic, I’m hitting midlife… I’m sure my counselor has a bunch of boxes she can check off when she’s putting in the paperwork to my insurance for reimbursement. I benefit from having someone to talk to, and I want my kids to know it’s ok– in fact, it’s good– to admit you need help and get it.
Maybe they don’t see me cry very often, but I do talk to them about my feelings and they do see me dealing with my emotions in (usually) constructive ways. I’m far from being a model parent, but I like to think I’m doing enough to leave the door open for them to find their own ways of dealing with life, and isn’t that the point of parenting? Maybe my kids will cope through crying in adulthood, and maybe they’ll find other strategies. At the very least, I hope they’re better at ducking and weaving when a kid’s skull is headed straight for their face. That’s a skill that’s always useful.
#parenting #parentinggirls #momming #momlife #parentlife #momstruggles #motherhood
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