Raising tiny humans is not for the faint of heart. But we do our best to not only raise them, but to raise people I’m proud of. We work hard to teach emotional responsibility and strength. I had serious struggles with emotions and processing them as a child and well into my late teens. This isn’t a path I want for my own children. I want them to know their strengths in their weaknesses, to be able to feel their sadness and process it, to know extreme feelings are not only okay, but totally normal!
We work on this in varying ways. When my kids are overwhelmed by feeling that results in too many tears to talk or whining, we practice deep breaths. I wish I could take credit for this, but it was actually my husband (and a Sesame Street app)! Honestly, I thought he was crazy, this was never going to work. Essentially when you’re over taken by emotion, you stop and take a deep breathe in and out. In the beginning it was tough, they didn’t want to but we practiced blowing hard in Mom or Dad’s face, moving their hair, or blowing them over. Eventually our kids expect us to stop them & say, “Okay, I’m having a hard time understanding you, can you take a deep breath? Good job, let’s try one more.” Until they have composed themselves enough to hash through their feelings. One of the most rewarding moments as a parent was seeing our middle child in the middle of an argument on the playground, stopping, and taking two big breaths before he continued. Y’all, I melted! He not only knew he was losing control of his emotions, he was cognizant enough to stop and gather himself enough to change his approach and become rational before it escalated to a situation he’d regret!
The next best life lesson is borrowing strength. As a mom we are used to giving so much of ourselves to our families, but in this instance it’s more symbolic. My kiddos have big feelings and with those feelings come some big fears. When we’re in the midst of panic, I bring them close, hug them tight, and while laying my hand on their heart, I whisper, “I’m here, take my strength.” And we breathe together (I’m now aware we do a lot of deep breathing)! But this small gesture I learned from a friend years ago has become second nature. Scared on the first day of school, take my strength. Scared of the dark, I’m here, take my strength. Sometimes merely knowing someone acknowledges your fear or hurt means more than actually fixing the problem. It’s not the solution every time, but it is a huge step in identifying and processing the emotion behind it all.
So awhile back I had an incident happen at our local library, where I was asked to leave by a guest speaker because my 1.5 year old was too excited during his presentation. Anyway, I was embarrassed and emotional. As we sat in the back of the library, I was overwhelmed and tears started flowing. My four year old walked up to me and asked why I was crying. As I tried to explain how my feelings were hurt and I was embarrassed, he leaned over grabbing my hand gently laying it on his heart as he whispered, “Mommy, do you need to borrow my strength?” Let’s just say this made me cry for an entirely different reason! Here was my little one, recognizing big emotion and doing what he could to let me know he saw my pain. These are the moments we work so hard for! These moments when all the work we’ve poured into those little minds and bodies comes to fruition! These are the moments that make all those incredibly hard moments worth it. Seeing the fruits of your labor come to life.
So keep at it Mamas! Keep powering through the trenches, because one day a tiny hand will take yours and you will hear the whisper, “Mama, do you need my strength?” And your heart will explode, the tears you cry won’t be out of frustration, and life will seem a little sweeter–even if for just a moment.