I tend to let my emotions rule my world. When I read, see or hear something really sad, whether real-life or fictional — i.e. spouses dying, children with terminal illnesses, child abuse, sexual assault, people battling with addiction — I sometimes can’t shake it for weeks. It stays on my brain. Sometimes I’ll even avoid reading or watching something because I know it will affect me for longer than I would like.
And thank God Extreme Makover Home Edition isn’t on the air anymore. Husband really liked that show and for the last several years I’ve refused to watch it with him. Within two minutes of the show starting I can’t stop crying. It’s just too sad.
I’ve always been an emotional person. I have high highs and low lows. I get really excited about things. My friends tell me that I’m always the first person they call with exciting news because they know I’ll be so excited for them.
I also take some things to heart more than I should. Is it possible to have too much empathy? It’s something that I’ve managed better as I’ve gotten older.
In my life today, I think my biggest challenge is not getting too emotionally caught up in certain aspects of motherhood. What mother doesn’t always want to do the “best” or “right” thing for their kids? After reflection, I think my subconscious fear is that one “mistake” or one single decision is going to impact my kids’ lives forever. As if I only have one shot. As if the one day (or 20 days over the course of their childhood) that I go out of my mind with anger is going to be their only memory of their childhood.
Honestly, it’s not a real fear; it’s not something I think about on a daily basis. But I think my personality and temperament of:
a) wanting to control
b) wanting to do everything “right,” and
c) getting overly emotionally invested,
Sometimes leads to this “all or nothing” subconscious fear.
So anyway. Not only am I realizing that this isn’t realistic, I’m also realizing I need to cut myself a break. There needs to be more of a margin for error (for me and the kids). We are human, after all. People get mad. Sometimes really mad. It’s not the norm in my household. I feel terrible, I apologize to my kids and we move on.
I need to just let it go instead of hanging onto it and feeling terrible for days.
In my last post I wrote about how frustrated I was with Bean and her typical terrible two behavior.
I was venting, and over-the-top, and being dramatic, and not at all objective because I was getting out the culmination of all my pent-up frustration over the last several months. And we had had a rough morning.
(I also was trying to be funny with my quip about my mental image of her “running away” from bad things like drugs, peer pressure, etc., when she’s quite literally running away from me because she doesn’t want to do things. I think it’s kind of funny to see her naked butt in my head.)
It’s not that I don’t trust my gut, or trust my instincts, sometimes we just need to vent. And sometimes another perspective is helpful.
Sometimes when you’re in the thick of things you lose sight of the overall perspective. The “can’t see the forest through the trees,” sort of thing. Being an emotional person, this is the type of thing I struggle with when it comes to myself — I can console another mom (or person) all day long, but then I’m really hard on myself.
You would think that with Bean being my second child I would remember that these are phases, and they pass. They just really suck while in you’re in them.
After the last post I had two friends share this message with me (“I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child”) about raising spirited kids, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
In particular, this part:
“I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:
1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.
You have no idea how much this meant to me: “I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today.” I felt like God was speaking directly to me.
It’s exactly what I needed to hear.
Oh, and one more thing. If you haven’t been introduced to Momastery yet, please, let me introduce you. Because I started reading Momastery in January, and once again, I felt like it was God (via Glennon) speaking directly to me.
- About losing your schmit with your kids: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/24/closer-to-fine/
- About bullying, homosexuality and religion (and what if one of your kids was gay): http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/22/a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on-2/
- About addiction and recovery (Glennon is a recovering alcoholic and bulimic; it’s not something that I’ve ever personally struggled with, or even known anyone who has struggled with it, but I find myself being drawn to this topic): http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/27/recovery-2/
- About what it feels like to have three kids: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/29/one-two-three-4/
All four of these posts came in a span of one week. Every single one of them spoke to me.
I. LOVE. HER.
The greatest thing that I took away from her addiction post was that when you don’t know what else to do, pray to God and alternate between “Thank you” and “Help me.”
I think everyone can use that advice.
Another thing that was exactly what I needed to hear.