I really had to take a moment the other day. My heart crumbled faster than a wave towering a sand castle. My 8 year old daughter was having a tantrum about school work. I could tell however, that the school work was not the problem. What she was expected to do versus her response to it was completely out of character for her. We were not doing something new or even challenging. It was also early enough in the day that I knew she wasn't really tired or hungry. In immense frustration she began screaming at the top of her lungs with full on tears streaming down her face, "I don't know how to do this", "This is stupid", "I am stupid", "Everybody hates me". She raged this way for a good 5 minutes, not letting my husband or I get a word in. When we repeatedly tried to engage her attention, she would elevate her voice louder and louder. Quite frankly, it was obvious she didn't care at all what we were trying to say and based on our parenting method, she also had no rational thought in her mind regarding a consequence for such behavior. As my shock wore off, my anxiety grew. I knew something was going on at a deeper lever. I thank God for that moment of insight friends, because this could have turned out much differently. I could have yelled at her in my anger, taken away her "sanity" items and sent her to her room so she could "think about it" and keep my parental status of being in charge. Instead, I took a deep breath. I asked God for direction as I began to try and peel the onion layers of emotion away. I gave her a hug, a huge momma bear hug and her little body melted into my soul so deep I almost thought she was in my womb again. She sobbed right there in my arms, head buried in my chest, while we stood against the kitchen island for what seemed longer than ever, yet not long enough. My tears fell as hers flooded my shirt. Before she said anything, I knew. My always smiling, bright, bubbly spirit of a girl who has been known to be just as happy as "Poppy" the movie troll had broke. "Mommy, this is just so hard. I miss school, my friends and dance. Corona is just a big bully!" she continued, "Please don't be mad at me."
I thought to myself, Oh baby girl mommy is not mad at you, mommy is mad for you. Mommy is in this with you. Mommy feels just like you feel. Mommy wants to yell and scream sometimes too, mostly because mommy can't fix this one. Mommy is struggling just like you are and she doesn't always know how to make you feel better about any of it, because mommy, simply, doesn't even know how to make herself feel better some days. We are in this together kid, and your pain.. that is mine too, but these are your feelings right now and this is your moment to let it all out however that may be.
What I actually said in that moment was short and simple, I said "I am not mad at you at all, this really is hard and I completely understand your frustrations." We held each other a few minutes longer as she gathered herself and wiped her tears. I reassured her that it was ok to feel how she felt and she never had to pretend or hide her feelings. We discussed talking about our feelings first so they don't fester and bubble up and seeking prayer, then she went on her way. She came back about 20 minutes later for another hug with a few more tears that needed to be let out. This time there were no words exchanged because none were needed.
I stepped outside after that second hug. I wept and I prayed.
Dear friends, our kids are fighting a battle none of us were equipped for. A battle so big and so foreign many of us parents are just treading water ourselves to get through the day. When you become a parent, there are templates of wisdom for your child's first knee scrape, first fight or broken heart. There are no templates for what we are going through as a world right now. Kids are resilient but they are fighting their own battles. Battles they have had to take on just as abruptly and unprepared for as us adults. If we have no clue how to navigate this new territory, how can we expect them to? I'll tell you how, we don't. They are feeling and experiencing every single life change along side of us? Some kids have experienced even more of a disruption than their parents. While I have been completely open to how my kids may feel and how they may react, they also, were "managing well", until they weren't. Quite honestly, it's been easy to fall into my own feelings surrounding "now", to assess how I am doing on any given day, or hour in some instances, in order to maintain everyone else. While I do advocate for self awareness, I just want to shine a brighter light on whom I affectionately call, the Qkids (quarantine kids). We are all they have right now. The strong village of mentors we had for them 2 months ago has gotten significantly smaller. Our children do not have the same access to the many family, friends, teachers, dance instructors, coaches, girl/boy scout leaders etc. that they had before. This is a trauma for them, a trauma for all.
So what can we do, while we are literally already overwhelmed doing all that we can do?
-We can pray.
-We can listen.
-We can not pass judgement.
-We can give them some leeway on acting out of sorts.
-We can teach them to have a growth mindset.
-We can encourage communication and talking about our feelings every day when we wake up and before we go to sleep.
-We can give them extra snuggles or extra space.
-We can learn more about them.
-We can skip school for the day.
-We can help them structure a day that better fits their needs.
-We can praise their efforts for getting through every single day, just like we do for each other.
-We can teach them what we know and learn with them, what we don't.
-We can parent, like we have been or like we never have.
You know your family best because you love your family the most.
So friends, if I may, can I just emphasize and extend a call for us to be a bit gentler with all their little hearts right now? It may show us how to be gentle with our own too.
Blessings to you all today and always~