To the Mom with the Screaming Kid
I wrote this to a friend but decided to share with everyone because I still need to hear it, every day.
Hey beautiful mama,
It was good to see you at the pool party the other day, even if we were too busy chasing the littles to actually talk more than a passing greeting.
I could tell you were having a rough time. I know because I have been there many times, and will be there many times again. Your little was crying, inconsolable for a good amount of time, and it was stressing you out.
I saw you notice my kids who were somehow, miraculously, both happy and calm, while your son was not. (I think angels were singing because both kids happy at the same time really is a miracle)
I felt your frustration after you talking through and acting on multiple attempts to calm him but he wailed on like a champ, refusing consolation and barreling on through those big feelings he was expressing.
I recognized the weight of responsibility you feel when you are doing everything you possibly can to make your kid happy and whatever you are doing IS. NOT. ENOUGH.
And even though they’re not, everyone else seems to be noticing and judging.
Especially when the other kids are acting like angels.
And doubt and fear creep in, because in your heart, maybe not out loud, but your great big loving open compassionate heart begins to doubt. Am I a bad mom? Am I not enough? Am I missing something that this kid needs from me?
Then comes the subconscious fear that during public outbursts like this everyone else thinks those very things about you too… not that they just think them but they KNOW.
This is not true. These things are not you.
Who knows the reason for your little’s cries- sometimes there is a logical reason and more often the reason is unclear- but I just wanted to remind you of a beautiful truth that I have been learning for the past few years.
You are an awesome mom, and you aren’t responsible to make him happy all the time. I used to think this but it is an impossible dream that will only bring both of you to frustration. WHY do they decide to have meltdowns in public? Especially when you are doing either 1) necessary or 2) fun things? But they do, and the will continue to do so, and you can’t prevent it and often can’t fix it.
But you can do two things: Pause and Love.
Allow yourself to take a moment to notice the emotional state of your own heart. Note any fear of judgment, fear of not being in control, fear of negative emotions, and then trade this fear for love. Re-centering on love will lead you to be the guide their little hearts need to work through these very big emotions.
So, if you can (it’s SO HARD for me!), try to give yourself a little grace. You can’t control every emotion and what matters is that during his cries you were THERE. Fully present. Loving, compassionate, attentive. (Maybe a little crazed too but that’s where I live, so I’m right there with you sister!) That’s the kind of mom I saw at the pool party. An amazingly strong mom concerned with the well being of the gift God has given her. That is you. That is the beautiful truth.
I also saw an awesome kid who felt safe enough to loudly and clearly communicate his emotions to the trusted adult he belongs to, no matter who else heard. I saw a loved toddler who finally did calm down and even gave one of his bright shining smiles to me when nobody else noticed.
Funny what people notice, huh? The loud outbursts tend to get attention but the kind quiet smiles often get missed.
But I noticed.
And I wanted to let you know.
We are in this together, you are awesome, and your little is awesome, and is blessed to have you be his mama.