My dog is dead, I’ve moved, and my baby just started preschool. I’m simply not sane right now, and I don’t mind admitting it.
In all of this, I’ve somehow managed to quit coffee. I don’t know how. Something about it – that murky brown substance, that burning my throat on the way down feeling – was too much for me, like a reflection of the chaos around me. Willfully ingesting it just felt wrong.
I’ve grieved over my Slayer. I’ve packed all my belongings only to have them sit in storage till almost October. I’ve kissed my toddler (or is it big boy now?) goodbye on his first day of school. And none of these things brought the emotions I expected.
And the most annoying thing of it all is other people trying to FIX me.
I loved the messages, cards, and time people offered me through all this. And some people got it so right- they just said they are here for me if I just needed a space to cry or vent or rage.
These are huge – HUGE- transitions in one’s life. I can’t just be happy/settled/focusing on the all the good stuff to stop me from feeling the bad in a quick instant.
It’s funny how until you actually experience it yourself, you don’t get how frustrating it can be to have someone tell you how you should feel or how you should do this or that in order to ease your suffering (or theirs because they have to be around you while you suffer), even if the words are offered with the best of heart.
How many times do we do this with our children?
Lars hasn’t been himself throughout these changes. But I don’t expect him to. This shit is hard. This shit is real. We’ve had more physical tantrums than I’ve ever witnessed, and you know what – I’m grateful. It has grounded me.
Why the hell did I think just because I’m the adult, I could handle all this stuff gracefully?
I’ve tried to fix him through a lot of this.
“Oh, you don’t want to start school? Ok, well I will have a big surprise waiting for you in the car when I pick you up.”
“All your toys are in boxes. I know. I’m sorry. But there are bigger toy stores in Colorado!”
I’ve given him lollipops, new toys, lots and lots of new adventures to zoos and parks. But it hasn’t “fixed” him.
It’s a distraction from the real work. A parent is not only a person who feels grief intimately but also someone who must watch their child experience it too, which means feel it all over again.
Kids, parents – people in general – need open arms. Space. A Witness. Someone to hold us through experiencing pain. Someone to echo back to us what we said we are feeling. Someone to give words to our emotions and let them float around the room, watching in awe with us.
“When we numb the painful emotions,
we also numb the positive emotions.”
So instead of numbing myself with wine, with shopping, with trying to escape the pain of all these transitions, I kept repeating to myself “It’s ok. It’s ok to feel grief. It won’t swallow you whole. Just feel it. Don’t fight it.” I’ve screamed into my pillow, I’ve fought with Mike over nothing, anything to get the feelings out. I had to emotionally coach myself first so I could then work with Lars.
I’ve had to hold him in those rowdy moments or just sit next to him. I’ve had to tell him I am here to understand what he is feeling, that it is safe to let it all out. That no matter where we live or who we’ve lost or what new challenge lies ahead, we are here, all of us together – Mommy and Daddy and the Larzy.
I let him rage. I labeled his feelings all the time – words like confused, sad, angry, disappointed, frustrated, scared, grieving. I let him FEEL instead of FIX. So satisfying, let me tell you.
I still have lots and lots to get out and to sort out. And Lars does too. (Who knew I would feel grief as I walked my child to his first classroom? I was so excited for him as he walked into the playground and met his teacher, but in that moment, just a shimmer of my smiling, chubby-legged, blondie of a baby boy was there. He didn’t see my tears luckily. At that moment, my little heart was bombarded with sadness that I didn’t quite understand at that time… I wonder what he was feeling then.)
Our emotions are never so black-and-white. We never just feel one at a time. They are always confounded and muddled. How we make our way through them just may determine our fate.
“One of the most ironically counterintuitive twists of parenting is this:
the more we welcome our children’s displeasure,
the happier everyone in our household will be.“
~ Janet Lansbury
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