I had a rude parenting awareness moment recently when I had tucked my youngest back into bed for a nap.
To say that both of my girls have been emotional lately is an understatement. Ok, all three of us have been.
But considering the circumstances of the separation and impending divorce, who could blame us?
The girls had to leave their toys and private bedrooms aside to all pile into one room at my parent’s farm. The country is filled with strange noises. Crickets, owls and coyotes that both girls could swear are wolves. Even the dog has been barking at anything that moves… All. Night. Long.
Needless to say my youngest hasn’t been sleeping well and as a result has been unbearably fussy.
Finally fed up with her whining I sent her back to bed for a nap and tucked her in with her favorite blankie.
Not soon after I hear footsteps and the creaking of the old farmhouse stairs as she sniffled. “I’m all done crying mom. I be good now.”
My heart broke.
Have I been so stressed that my communication to her lately told her that she is Bad?!
I sprang to my feet and ran to meet her on the stairway.
“Oh sweetheart! You’re not in trouble. You ARE a good girl. You are a good girl with lots of feelings and LOTS of emotions. It’s ok. You ARE a good girl, AND you still need a nap.”
We negotiated a compromise because she said she was scared upstairs all alone. Again, who can blame her? I get spooked in the 100-year-old farmhouse still too.
My 3-year-old nestled next to me on the couch and was snoring within minutes. My oldest played for hours with her toys on the floor. She was relieved to get some peace from all the whining too. And I got to square away lots of logistics on my computer.
And that was it. It wasn’t an epic incident, but it was a powerful reminder how careful we must be as parents not communicate to our children that they are “bad” for simply having emotions. Even if that communication happens on accident.
We must be careful that the consequence we give them in order to teach them how to deal with emotions isn’t confused with a direct punishment BECAUSE they had emotions.
Now I have this human condition called “needing reminding.” But hopefully this incident will have given me enough of a reminder to communicate to my children that They Are Good!
Well… you know. Before the next heart-wrenching, mom-guilt moment whips me back into line with another life lesson.