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Don't Listen to Me, Hear Me — Today I Was "That Parent"

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Today I was "that parent." The one with the child who cried, screamed, and clung to me as if her life depended on it as I dropped her off for only her third day of kindergarten. I was "that parent" who walked to my car with tears streaming down my face. I was "that parent" who called the school an hour later to see how my child was doing.

When they told me she'd ONLY cried for 15 minutes and then she was fine, I didn't feel better. I felt worse. My baby (I don't care if she's 5 years old or 55 years old, she'll always be my baby) had been scared, and sad, and had just wanted ME and I'd left her. I felt guilty and HORRIBLE.

Yeah, I get it, it's all part of her growing up and learning to be independent, and blah, blah, blah — I don't give a damn! This sucks. It goes against every instinct I have as a parent to walk away from my crying child.

I'm a positive person. I always try and find the silver lining, the bright side of a situation. However, there are times in life when you just need to focus on getting through your situation. It's even nicer to have someone empathize with you. Yet, it's such a rare occurrence. Have you ever noticed that?

As soon as I express any worries, hardships, frustrations, fears, or even guilt, it seems to be a cue for people around me (friends, family, strangers) to start telling me how blessed I am, or how everything is going to be okay. Some even tell me how lucky I am before they launch into scenarios that are far worse than mine, I guess in an attempt to prove their point.

I get that people have this compulsion to try and help, or to make a connection.

Often times it just leaves me feeling misunderstood. Like everyone is just listening to respond without truly just listening. I almost feel worse when I express negative feelings because of the response I get.

It shouldn't be this way. When someone entrusts you with their negative feelings your first response should be "Are you telling me for empathy, encouragement or advice?" If they respond with "empathy" then just listen and ask questions that will help them to communicate their feelings to you. Sometimes, the thing we need most in life is just to be heard.

This is life, it's not meant to be perfect and there is beauty in that. I know I would be happier if had the freedom to express myself, the good and the bad, and just really be heard. Sometimes life sucks. It's a fact we need to stop glossing over. We need to stop being afraid to admit to our struggles!

When I picked up my daughter she was fine. She showed me her art work and said she "had a good day." I was totally relieved but acted like it was a forgone conclusion that she'd had a good day (Yes, I know that she's taking her cues from me). I fought the tears welling up in my eyes when she hugged me and smiled.

I know my little kindergartner is eventually going to be just fine. She's my fourth baby so I have dropped many a kindergartner off for their first week of school and they survived. That doesn't make it any easier for me.

I know there are many of you that have kids starting in daycare, preschool, kindergarten, a new school, new grade, or even college. I know that many of you are struggling with all the emotions and fears that go along with these new chapters in your "baby's" life.

I know there are some of you that are dealing with illness, life changes, financial hardships or the loss of a love one.

I am not going to tell you that it will all be okay because that seems dismissive to the very real emotions you are feeling.

I will tell you that I empathize with you. You are not the only person that finds themselves overwhelmed with worry, guilt, nostalgia, depression — so many emotions!

Instead of telling you to brush those feelings aside, that "it will all work out," I'm telling you it's okay to have these feelings. You are not alone. I hope that brings you some comfort. Wishing you all much, love, laughter, happiness, and good listeners in your life.

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