I’ve always felt a bit anxious when I hear my kids cry. I don’t like to see them in pain, disappointed, or sad. I hate knowing that sometimes they’re so frustrated and can’t express themselves so they cry because that’s their “best” option.
I know that experiencing a wide range of big emotions is a healthy part of toddler life...but still, it can be so hard to listen to.
It makes my heart ache and my stomach twist.
I think this can be hard for parents to deal with—the emotional lows our children go through—because we know how much it stinks to be so distraught over something that crying is the only way to feel better.
(Well, that and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream…?)
And while, to an adult, this frustration might mean getting into a fight with your partner or making a mistake at work—to a toddler, it could very well mean things that matter SO MUCH in their little worlds—even if it means not getting to have macaroni and cheese for dinner or not being able to go to the park.
As mamas, we want to snap our fingers, fix the situation, make our kiddos happy again then tie it all up in a nice big bow at the end. “All better!”
But sometimes, we can’t figure out what magic trick will fix the situation. And sometimes, they’re too small to find the words explain it to us.
One thing I know that always makes me feel better—and helps my kiddos too—is picking them up and holding them until they calm down.
When I hear one of my children cry, I go to them and pick them up—and I don’t feel guilty about that. This works for us, and it might not always work for you. But that’s OK. Right? Because you do you, I’ll do me—and that’s how parenting should be. ?
So, my baby, when you cry—I will be there for you.
When you cry over losing your favorite stuffed animal, I will hold you. I know this is a tough situation for you to understand and come to terms with and I want to be there for you.
When you cry because your feelings are hurt, I will hold you. I want you to know it’s OK to express your feelings—any of these big, confusing toddler feelings—to me and your dad, whenever you feel necessary.
When you cry because you fell at the park, I will hold you. That scared you, and I know my arms will make you feel safe again. I’ll encourage you to keep going, but I want you to feel better first.
When you cry because you’re overtired, I will hold you. Sometimes, I want to cry when you’re overtired, too. Because my patience is wearing thin and I need a break. But—I will try my best to hold on to my last few ounces of that patience I have left, and I’ll help you settle down.
When you cry because you’re fighting with your sister, I will hold you. (I’ll probably hold both of you, to be honest.) I’ll hold you while we talk about being kind to one another and the importance of protecting each other. I’ll encourage you to apologize and try again.
When you cry because you’re so mad the big tower you built came crashing down, I will hold you. I will validate those angry feelings and I will hear you out. Maybe we’ll even sing a song from Daniel Tiger (DT kills it in the feelings department.)
When you cry because you can’t get your way, I will hold you. I will gently explain that the answer can’t always be ‘yes.’ Sometimes, it’s going to be ‘no’—and you might not like it, but that’s how life goes. But I’ll hold you and kiss you and try to make you laugh. I promise I’ll try to make it better.
One day you will cry and I’ll only be able to try to comfort you over the phone.
One day you will cry and I won’t be the one you turn to first.
One day you will cry and my arms won’t be the solution.
And when I think about that too long, honestly, I cry.
I know you’re going to grow up into an amazing, independent, capable adult. And I want that more than anything. But thinking of the days when I won’t be so needed, and my arms won’t be as comforting...my heart breaks a little.
So, right now, I will hold you.
I will choose to pick you up.
I will choose to comfort you with hugs and kisses.
For as long as you let me.
For as long as I can.