Something to Cry About

Jubilee came to me today sobbing and talking and whining all at the same time. . .to the point that I could not understand a word she was saying. I was frustrated because I was trying to pack for a week out of town, was running behind schedule, and really didn’t feel like taking the time to deal with a crisis. I felt my irritation begin to rise at the disruption as it often does when things don’t go according to plan. It’s a weakness I’m not proud of, but a part of the brokenness I’m working to function within.

And so, I silently acknowledged my inner frustration, took a deep breath and said, “Jubilee, I can’t understand you when you’re crying so hard.” I put my arm around her. “Can you take a deep breath and try to tell me what’s wrong without whining?” She took a swipe at her tear-soaked face and took a big deep breath. “I can’t find the picture I drew for Gramma,” she said sadly. I took her by the hand and told her we’d look for it together. We found it quickly on the kitchen counter and she cheerfully went on about her day and I went back to packing. But this and a few other instances like it this week have got me thinking about how I handle the emotional crises of my kiddos.

I’ve been guilty of telling my girls to stop crying when I feel like they’re overreacting. When something that seems so small results in an out of proportion amount of crying or whining or fear, I don’t always handle it the right way.

“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about,” was a phrase I grew up hearing now and then. I’ve been tempted to say it myself in a moment of frustration. And the weight of that saying is hanging in my head this week. It was actually the inspiration for this post. Because even when it feels to me like my children have nothing to be upset about, if they’re upset, it doesn’t really matter what I think.

It doesn’t change the magnitude of my own emotions when someone else doesn’t think what I’m upset about is worth my tears. When I’m stressing or crying about something, if my husband looked at me and said, “Oh good grief, calm down. It’s not that big of a deal!” I can guarantee you it would not make me suddenly snap out of it and realize the error of my ways. Frankly, it would make me very angry in addition to my sadness.

But in this grown up world of “important” things, it is sometimes easy to forget that to little people, things that seem so small and trifling to us can be so huge in their little hearts. Jubilee’s special picture she drew for Gramma was very important to her. Losing it was painful and she needed me to care that she was upset and to be with her in her sadness and frustration. . .not berate her for her silliness.

So I’m remembering to take a beat when my kids come to me with a crisis and to realize that if they’re upset, they HAVE something to cry about, even if it seems insignificant to me. THEY are not insignificant to me and so the little things that rock their worlds matter. As I try to see things from their perspective more often, it helps me to try and put myself in their shoes for a moment. I want them to know that I care about everything that happens in their world now, so that as pre-school problems become pre-teen problems become adolescent problems, they will continue to come to me for comfort and for help in finding the appropriate solutions to the situations that cause their angst. By acknowledging that they have something to cry about just because they’re crying is yet another way I’m getting to know the little people that call me mama. And I’m so grateful for those little glimpses into their heart of hearts. . .

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