Some parts of parenting come to us naturally. For me those parts were a joy of snacks and maintaining a regular napping schedule. Food and sleep are two things I can naturally get behind and support. Other things (pretty much every other thing) have come with a learning curve. Sometimes it is more along the lines of a learning punch in the gut.
My oldest child is an emotional creature. I keep thinking maybe next year she will ‘grow out of it’ but I’ve come to accept that she may always be much like a pinball in regards to emotional highs, lows, tears, and exuberant laughter. That’s only covering five minutes of her normal day.
I will be the first to admit that my natural instinct when someone comes at me with an emotional charge is to be like a brick wall. When something is hurled at a brick wall TYPICALLY one of two things happen. The item bounces back, often times with surprising momentum – anger for anger, tears for tears, and excitement for even more excitement. I kind of tend to match and bounce back what is given. For some this is a good thing. They like the feed back, they like the ability to reflect on their actions as a result of mine. This is not true for Karrigan. It sends her reeling.
The other thing that can happen when something is thrown at a brick wall is that the object hits it and shatters, breaks, collapses. I think of this as those moments where two minutes of whining all the sudden become a complete and total sobbing melt down and where neither my child or I walk away feeling like things went well. The wall. That’s what I am naturally.
It has become increasingly apparent that is not what my child needs. What my oldest needs is a pillow.
Man how I wish I meant that in a physical sense. Dairy Queen here I come! Just making sacrifices for the kids and trying to be more pillow-like.
No, what I meant is my child needs an emotional pillow. She needs a mom she can yell at and who gives back a whisper. Have you ever yelled into a pillow? That’s essentially the same affect.
She needs a mother who absorbs her tears, and doesn’t do much more than that. She doesn’t want or need to me fix things. She doesn’t need me to explain her feelings. She just needs a mom who wipes her cheeks and absorbs the tears because that makes them go away faster.
She needs a mom who offers a cuddle when she is frustrated and who doesn’t press and pry for a story to fit with every feeling she has. Sometimes my daughter needs me to just –be.
Quiet. Still. Soft.
Those words don’t describe me naturally but you know what will make those words fit me? Love.
Love for my daughter. The desire to be what she needs, even when my original mold wasn’t created that way. It’s not easy. I raise my voice in response to hers. I tell her to “toughen up” more than is logical. I exclaim “Why are you crying AGAIN?” at least twice a day. Still as parents we strive and we try and lately when I’ve been at my wits end I’ve been taking a look at my pillow and thinking…What would you do big fluffy? Then I try to do that.
The funny thing is …it works.
Oh and being a physical pillow as mentioned before? I’ll always be that, any time her little head needs a place to rest. That’s the best kind of pillow to be.