To your child, you are safety. You are security. You are where (out of anyone or any place), they can come undone. Where they can let it all out, let it all go. Where they meltdown, break down, scream, cry, push.
Where they can say—”I AM NOT OKAY!”
Where they can totally lose it. Without judgment or fear or shame.
Because they know you’ll listen. They know you’ll hear them. That you will help piece the mess back together.
Within any uncertainty, they are certain you’ve got them.
You are their haven. Their harbor. Their sanctuary, their peace. You are comfort. Deep breaths. Hugs and back rubs. You’re a resting place, a nightmare chaser, a healer. You are the calm within their storm.
You are their mother.
They need you, they don’t need you.
They want you, they don’t want you.
“Leave me alone!”
“Can you sleep with me?”
They cry about you, while they’re crying for you, confusing us all.
Recently, one of my kids was so upset and tired—and there were so many tears—and everything I did and said was making it worse. “Honey, tell me how I can help you right now and I’ll try to make it better.” “Do you not feel so good right now? Is something bothering you?” “Let’s try taking deep belly breaths together, you’re so good at those!”
Let’s just say, the tears multiplied, the anger intensified, and I felt like a big loser.
But at the same time, while we were strapped into the emotional roller coaster together, my child climbed into my lap, nestled their head under my chin, asked me to rub their back, and finally took a deep breath, without any coaxing.
In my arms, we both settled down. Our hearts slowed, our bodies melted into each other. And we felt okay again.
After a few minutes passed, my child asked if they could go play. I said yes, and off they went as if everything was fine—as if the last half hour didn’t exist.
When this happens, I’m almost always left in the dust of confusion. They move on, they are done with the big feelings and I’m frozen wondering—what just happened? Did I imagine that? Was it not actually as big of a deal as I thought?
Feelings are tricky, I guess.
In the trickiness of the great mystery of emotions, they look for you. They’ll always look for you. And they see you. They feel you. You are their anchor. You keep them steady. You are solid ground.
You have the answer because you are the answer. Their answer.
I know on the days when you feel touched out and exhausted, when you feel like you don’t know how to muster enough energy up for cooking dinner or doing bedtime or finishing your work—that their meltdown might drag you under completely. And maybe you’ll even melt down alongside each other. (I’ve been there many times.)
I know it may feel like hearing more whining might break you. More crying might force you to run away. It all may feel like too much. You may wonder, how can I possibly be this responsible for another human’s heart?
Well, mama, because we share one, don’t we? Their heart is our heart and our heart is their heart.
So if I may, I’d like to share a gentle reminder: When they lose it with you, they want to lose it with you and only you. Because you make them feel like things are okay when life is heavy. Like love exists even in this mad world. Like they are allowed to feel everything inside them, to be perfectly imperfect. Just like us.
You make them feel like they are allowed to show you who they are, truly and purely, and know you have them. Because they trust you enough to let you in. They trust you with their whole heart, the one you gave them, the one you hold.
Those days, the ones with lots of BIG ginormous feelings, can be trying. They’re draining for all involved. But, they happen. (I had one yesterday.) And when they do, we’re not going to always get it right. We’re going to say or do the wrong thing (I made the mistake of making my 3-year-old cry harder when I gave her the doll she was asking me for), we’re going to shout in frustration, we’re going to feel like we’re in over our heads.
But we’re going to be there. We’re going to show up. We’ll show up messy, sure. We’ll show up imperfectly, definitely. We’ll show up unsure, very likely.
But we will stand with them. We’ll sit with them. We’ll be with them. We’ll hold them and rock them and be confused by them and with them and we’ll calm them and they’ll calm us.
Because we are safety.
And we are doing a great job.