After writing about struggling with wanting to control my kids the other day, I read a comment on another site that speculated about the motivation for grasping for that control. A seasoned mother and grandmother wrote something along the lines of, “First you need to lose the us vs. them mentality. They are not the enemy. They are your heart.” At first, I felt defensive when reading that. I love my kids and I don’t feel that I am superior to them in some way. If anything, I feel like they deserve a better mom than I could ever be. For me personally, a big part of my struggle against the emotions that get stirred up in me when I feel powerless stem back to times long faded into my past when being powerless was a common and regular occurrence in situations that brought me a lot of fear, anger and sadness. I definitely don’t feel like my kids are the enemy. . .or do I?
Then, as typically happens to me when I sit on something for a while, the rational part of my brain kicked in and I began to ponder why I felt so defensive about a random comment written by a complete stranger. I realized that in this realm of “survival parenting” I often do feel like I’m just trying to survive the overwhelmingness of my kids just being . . .well. . .KIDS. And today the phrase, “They are your heart,” played over and over again in my mind. . . and began to cause a change inside me as I pondered exactly what that meant.
They are my heart. When they are broken, I hurt. In many ways, my emotions are tied to theirs. Not in a “give them everything they want so they won’t be sad” kind of way, but in a way that helps me stay in tune with the heart and motivation behind their words when they use them, and the words behind their actions when they don’t.
They are my heart. Sometimes I forget that they are little people that I need to get to know, not just part of the household I manage. When Melody was talking to me about her notebook pages, my mind immediately went to the fact that she was going to be asking for me to buy her another notebook soon. And maybe that was the case. But there would have been nothing wrong with me talking to her about why it concerned her that her pages were running low. Discussing what kind of notebook she’d want when she finally does draw through all the pages in all the notebooks we already have. Concerning myself with something that was clearly important to her, just because it’s important to her. Getting to know her more by doing so. And the more I get to know my heart, the more I learn about myself, too.
They are my heart. Jubilee asked me to read a book to her today. And when I finished, she asked me to read it again. . .and again. . .until we’d read that same book 15 times and I started making up silly voices to combat the boredom I felt at reading the same book so many times. But the realization I had is that it’s not about me. Part of learning to be the grown up in the room all the time is learning to build the emotional muscle to hold whatever emotions may be swirling inside of me while still meeting the needs of my little ones. And for a 3 year old, reading the same book over and over again is a need. And even if it’s not critical to her survival, it’s not ridiculous because it makes her happy. And when my heart is happy, I am fulfilled.
They are my heart. Romeo wasn’t feeling well today. He was fussy and he just wanted me to hold him. That means the dishes didn’t get done, dinner was pizza delivery, and I was a bit touched out by bedtime. But being held is what he needed. Being held made him feel secure and maybe a little less icky. And when my heart feels secure, I am whole.
So as I work through the brokenness that sometimes makes being a parent burdensome for me, I will continue to remind myself that these children are not just a part of my daily checklist, or another chore to be managed. These little people have been entrusted to my care, and it is my privilege to acquaint myself with their unique personalities, quirks and just the little things that make them each so different. I am not in a competition with them to see who will be in control. I am their primary ally. I am their biggest fan. I am their first therapist, their safe place in the storm and their soft landing place. And they are my heart. . .<3