Updated: Feb 2
When our child is hurting it is so hard not to hurt too. Obvious right? I know, but I have been giving this a lot of thought lately.
Whether some kid just snagged the legos out of your son's hand or
your middle schooler is being left out of the slumber party circuit or
your college gal does not get into the sorority she wants or
your adult son doesn't get his dream job... it sucks.
Like really sucks.
And, I know that all of my feelings come from my thoughts, not the circumstance (ex. the legos being taken out of his hand). I know this, I study this, I coach this, I practice this, and yet...it all goes out the window when I hear one of my daughters crying on the other end of the phone.
Then mama bear comes out.
I know about blessings of skinned knees.
I know about the grit and resilience that comes from set backs.
I know that failing is really just learning.
But, man ... those tears get me.
And, here is the thing.
They call or chat with you, cry, unload, yell, rage, over share and then...
They feel so much better and you now feel like you are carrying around a 50 lb weight.
And after I shared my experience of this on insta stories this week I heard from so many moms! And, I learned I am so not alone. None of us is alone actually. And, man you all showed up for me with great suggestions, support, and humor!
If you can pre-decide how you will show up the next time your child is hurting, chances are you will save yourself some heart ache (some, not all), some worry, some sleepless nights, and reduce your own overwhelm.
Here are some ways you can show up:
Breathe deliberately while you listen. One deep in breathe. One long exhale. Repeat.
Pause when your 5 year old is hiccup crying or your 25 year old is telling you their tale of woe. Pause. Look in their eyes or hear their breath on the phone. And, pause. Nod your head.
Don't interrupt them.
Hold their hand if you are in the same room.
Close your eyes as they talk on the phone.
Stay in listening and not solution giving mode.
Don't believe everything they are saying. They are sharing their story of what happened. There are always many versions to a story eh?
Encourage them to feel all their feelings, all of them.
Don't interview them about the other person or persons. Just listen.
Ask them to keep you in the loop as it relates to this experience. In other words, let them know you expect to hear how they are resolving this and not just ghost you while they are at the movies, going on runs, laughing with friends and you are still home wringing your hands in worry.
One mom writes memories on the inside of shells and keeps them in a vase in her bathroom. When she gets one of these calls she goes to her shells, pulls one out, and channels the feeling of that memory. Brilliant eh?
If you have other ideas please send them my way!