27 days down, 338 to go!
Dear Leap Day,
You’re just the Day that keeps on giving! Last week you helped me realize that I need to have more faith in myself that I can take on The Orange Rhino Challenge, that I can succeed both in not yelling and in sharing. Well in realizing this, you also made me realize something else, something even more powerful. It’s not just about me. Forget just having more faith in myself, I need to have more faith in my kiddos.
The Orange Rhino
These last few days have been really quite hard. I’ve struggled. There is simply no doubt. Why? Well, amongst other reasons, my kiddos have been collapsing in tears over everything and nothing and it is draining. Draining, draining, draining! I’ve done my best to give full attention to the tears, but I have to be honest, after a while I find myself drowning in what starts to feel like drama. I find myself thinking, really? Really you are crying again? Over that? #2 took your toy, again. Okay. That’s not new news. #3 won’t share. Okay. That’s not new news either. That’s nothing, no big deal.
Now, wait, who am I to judge what is everything or nothing? What seems like nothing to me, “he took my sticker off my shirt and now it won’t re-stick” could be everything to #2 (in fact it was, the sticker was from a friend so it did mean everything, it meant he was liked).
So, the way I see it, not only do I have to have more faith in myself, but also I have to have more faith in my kids. More faith that even though they are “just kids” who tend to cry a lot, chances are that when they are really REALLY upset, that something REAL is going on. More faith that their feelings are REAL and important TO THEM, even if at the time, they seem trivial and annoying to me!
Today would have been a great day to have more faith from the start. Today was oh so full of emotional outbursts! Full of them. The cup poureth over. Every time I turned around to ask my sweet first born to do something simple, like clear his plate, he started bawling. And when he wasn’t hysterical, #2 was. The crying NEVER STOPPED.
Now, my first instinct when one of my boys is in an emotional, full on tears, tirade, for the third or fourth time that day! is to yell “ENOUGH ALREADY!!!” (It gets just a tad bit exhausting and irritating, you know?) It hardly ever dawns on met at that moment that when there are big tears and big emotions over small things that there is usually something else going on. That it’s not just nothing. That it’s REAL. Sometimes it is just exhaustion. Sometimes it is just that he is having a bad day. But sometimes, well lots of times actually, it is something bigger and it feels like everything to him.
But always, always if I just STOP and ask what is going on, I get an answer. And if I am uber patient and uber persistent, I get the REAL answer.
Somewhere, somehow, I got the strength and brilliance this afternoon to hold #1 and ask him nicely what was going on, instead of chiding him for his behavior over small, silly things (which is what I used to do. Sigh).
“What is going on? Why have you been crying all day? Why the big tears?”
“Mommy, I’m sad that I don’t get more daddy time. I want two daddys. One that works and one that stays home and plays with me all day.”
“Is that all?”
“No, I want more mommy time. I want two mommys. You play with my brothers all the time. You love them more than me. I want one mommy that plays with just me and one that plays with my brothers.”
Well, that just about broke my heart. Here I had been wanting to yell at him all day, growing more and more agitated by his outbursts and he just wanted more mommy and more daddy time. If that wasn’t eye opening I don’t know what is. Imagine if I had asked him this question at the START of the day instead of 4:00? Imagine if I hadn’t just assumed he was crying because, well, that is what kids tend to do from time to time. Sure would have made for a much smoother day full of more love and understanding and much less agitation.
It amazes me that before The Orange Rhino challenge, I never would have taken the energy to stop and ask what was up, why the big tears. I would have probably just focused my energy on yelling and getting my son to do what I had asked.
I am so grateful that I couldn’t yell today. That I was forced to stop and ask what was going on, to find out if it was truly nothing, or if it was everything. Because what my son told me was super important, REAL important, way more important than any of the silly chores that I wanted him to do.