Monday, March 10, 2014

I want to see you be Brave

My Name is Lindsay. “Hi Lindsay.” and I sometimes am to quick in the need to fix things.
Like swoop in and slap a big fat band aid over a gaping wound. I used to like think it was about my extreme and generous need and want to help and serve and love on people, and yes, that is sometimes true. ( Hmmmm I wonder how I ended up adopting 8 children?)
But, If I am more honest with myself, it's a little selfish. This peace maker stuff? Total Bull crap, I need things to be O.K. , I need the people I love to be O.K, mostly because I love them, but also for me. Because Honestly? I FEEL BETTER, when they feel BETTER. I can have a total emotional reliance on others emotions to equate my emotions.
And I am working on that, a lot.
Me this bundle of self improvement.

I sometimes when someone is sad, depressed, or angry, worry and stress that somehow it is my fault, somehow I should and can fix their feelings.
Children of divorce find this a common theme. Heck, sensitive humans, find this theme common.

So you need to be O.K., for me, because I am not comfortable with your feelings. Geez, that’s a little embarrassing to admit.
While parenting children with a traumatic past I have learned better to not take their feelings onto my plate, and try desperately to not make what they are feeling, about me. Sometimes they are sad or angry, and actually have no identifying reason why.
I used to prod, “Come on, there has to be a reason for the way you feel.” ( I NEED there to be a reason, so then we can look at it together and I can help fix it, neat and tidy with a bow.) All kids are full of these unidentifiable feelings, and sometimes we can and should help them dance them out, and sometimes, we can sit with them and let them feel those feelings until they are ready to move on.

Just last night I was reading “Dear Sugar, tiny beautiful things” by Cheryl Strayed, and there was a phrase that I locked onto. “Fountains of Inconvenient Feelings.” Oh my goodness, yes.
In this day and age, feelings are inconvenient, you can be fine and stand next to me, or not be...and um, go sit over there. The sincerity of the phrase “How are you?” is lost in pleasantries.
No wonder sometimes our kids and we feel like Aliens.
We live in the land of Big and Inconvenient feelings.

Yesterday at church, while wrangling 5 semi-well coiffed children into a church pew side booth (strategically blocking them in) we sat and faced the pulpit. Behind it sat my darling 8 year old daughter, getting ready to sing with her age group to the congregation, her face was shiny with excitement and pride, I grinned and did the proud mama scrunchy hand wave. I then looked over to my brood. Her eight year old brother had enormous crocodile tears streaming down his face.

“Psssst, dude, come here, whats going on Buba, whats with the tears, big feelings?”

“Sniff, Yeah guess so, I am kinda jealous of her getting to sing in front of everyone, and that everyone will come up and tell her that she did such a good job”, big sigh, deep breath,” and I am the one, out of the eight year olds that likes to sing, it's my thing, not hers.”
Man, he looked sheepish and sad sharing that with me.

And I leaped.
“Yes buddy I can feel that with you, with 3 eight year olds in our family it must be so important to have something that is 'your thing', what can we do to help you feel better. Do you want to try a “Yay me”, or Maybe you can pick a song and sing it to all of us in the car on the ride home, or in front of all of us after dinner and we can clap? How does that sound?”

“Um...Or maybe I can feel this way, jealous and sad for just a little while longer, and work to feel happy for my sister when I am ready, and if I get stuck, we can try one of your idea's mom?”

“Yes. Or that, because that makes a lot of sense that you might just want to to sit with those feelings a little longer. Awesome, great.”


Sometimes as parents, partners and friends we are too quick with the swoop in and rescue. We are too uncomfortable with other peoples feelings. Sometimes we are in such a hurry to fix their feelings, put a bandaid over a gaping wound and keep them moving, when really , we need to allow them to sit with their feelings a little while and feel them, roll around with them, and release them when they are ready.
Because someday, especially with our kids, we won't be there. They are going to have to learn to brave their feelings on their own, with the tools we have given them.

Or we could potentially cause more damage.

I remember one day my brother came home from a Boy Scouts Activity.
Instead of working on knots outside, they decided to practice jumping off the church roof, because 12 year old boys have the reputation of really thinking things through.
My brother had jumped and while landing heard a crack and felt a stab of pain.
He was slow to admit in all his preteen masculinity that he 'might' have broken something. Once he did, it was met with denial and possibly fear, most likely because the boys were worried of the repercussions of their leader finding out that instead of perfecting their sailor, slip and square knots they were all going Condor man off the roof of the building.
So they did what any anxious group of man children would do. They started playing keep away with his shoes forcing him to hobble after them, calling him a whanny and telling him to buck up.

By the time he got the x-rays back they found 4 fractured bones in his foot and quite possibly had fractured only one bone, but added to the damage walking on it and ignoring the pain.

While living in the world of sadness, shame, guilt, grief, fear, jealously and anger I am learning to wait out and let them use the tools I have been handing out to them for the last 4 years, recognizing they too are getting better at seeing and processing what they are feeling in the moment, and trusting them to come to me if they get stuck.

I am not sure who this is harder for.
There is such a deep importance to allow the pain to cycle, for the grief fountain to run dry, for the healing to happen before continuing on.

I need to let them be Brave.
That makes me Brave.
I can be ready to catch them...but mostly let them ask, let them feel, and me be O.K. with whatever those feelings are.

I want to see them be Brave.

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