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strain

Three years old. So emotional for the children and the parents. I’m sitting outside the bedroom while T does bedtime, listening to one tearful reaction after another. His voice is tense, wanting to guide the child through, showing him the straightest path, offering the solution he perceives to be best… The boy, though, just wants to work with things as he sees them, to try it his way. The adult who doesn’t want to spill medicine or clean up a mess is beside the little one who is making sense out of the whole thing, his instincts pushing him to do it himself.

All day long we have these encounters: parent to parent, parent with children, children with each other. The screaming anger from M, the tears from S. Slamming doors, walking away in anger, pushing, grabbing, shouting… the parents struggle to slow down, to let go, to allow them space to work out their frustration, satisfy curiosity. Our voices strain, our hands grab things away from them when we tire of guiding. We end up acting in ways we discourage sternly in the children. It’s a constant paradox of wanting a certain kind of home culture and experience of peace for the children, but churning in our own dissatisfaction, impatience, exhaustion, and really, sometimes boredom.

Each adult (there are three, with me, my sister, and my fiancĂ©) has their own experience. Right now, I sit outside the door, my child cries for me, wails that he wants time with his mama. The door won’t be opened, though… We have all agreed that he needs to learn to be comforted by each of us. Except that I am not comforted, the child isn’t appeased, and the other parent is stressed. We feel the pull, my child and I. I feel his longing, and even though I know that he might be just as tearful and whiny with me in the room, I want to answer. I sit, I wait, my stomach in knots, my shoulders tight, my breath shallow and fast. I am resisting the urge to protect my child from the frustration that may or may not be bubbling in my partner. Then the parent begins to read, the tears somehow subside. The child is quiet, leaning his stressed, tired body on the solid body of his new father… a chord emerges from the dissonance between them, without me.

This is our path, to push, to question, to wait through our discomfort, to go through the thorny underbrush and persist in our determination to serve our children for where they are. We give each other space to grow, both through their childhoods and through our parenting. Sometimes the way is clear, and other times we all come through bruised and hurting. The gift is, that either way, we seem to find our way back to each other, embracing and finding delight through fault and perfection, through chaos and ease.

 

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course correction

tenderness

tonight, after a particular moment in which my constant frustration over our messy house was not at all concealed, s lay down in bed, and said to me in the very saddest three-year old voice: “Mama, I feel sad when you, when you, when you… when you are sad of me.”

needless to say, i scooped that sweet, vulnerable, tender boy up into my arms and looked him in the eye and told him that i was sorry – that i wasn’t sad of him, and that he always brings me happiness. i told him i always love him, no matter what is happening.

it was a lesson i hope to really internalize, though. of course we all have a whole range of emotions, and i believe that it’s ok to process most of those with the boys.the problem is, we just don’t know how they are interpreting our outbursts and expressions of feeling, and that right there is the caution. to speak more mildly, to react with more measure, to choose words carefully and express myself with kindness and patience, even of things that are happening not from them directly, but simply around them. because even though we hugged and laughed, and snuggled, i know that fear is there… and no one planted that doubt of love except me, and that is indeed really sad.

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in balance, learning, parenting, relationship, spirit

 

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