Today was a bad day, one of those days that creeps up and hits you and everything sucks. Everything is harder than it should be and emotionally I was tapped out. I braved school pick up and tried to keep my composure until are friend asked if I was ok, I wasn’t. I burst into tears. I had been holding everything in and all of a sudden the gates opened, and the flood ensued. As I tried desperately to hide it from my son I knew it was only a matter of time before I just needed to let loose and cry, you know, one of those un-pretty sobbing cries that your soul needs to vent? But alas there were things to do and I pushed on for another few hours.
Then I got home and I couldn’t contain it anymore. I asked master 5-year-old to go and play with cars or something else and he just wanted to be with me. I pleaded with him to go and play as mummy just needed a minute. ‘Why?’ he asked so innocently. I paused, do I lie and tell him mummy isn’t feeling well and just needs a lay down or do I tell him the truth? I chose the latter and something amazing happened….
‘Mummy has had a rough day’ I said, ‘I am just feeling a bit sad and mummy needs to have a little cry to feel better’. I went on to reassure him I was ok but by then the tears were flowing. He looked and gave me a giant hug, ‘it’s ok mummy’ he reassured me then hopped off the bed to fetch me a tissue. He sat by me quietly for a few minutes then did something silly to make me laugh, he is his father’s son after all and this is a tried and tested strategy that works.
Now in this moment I realised something truly amazing, that at 5 years old my son had the emotional intelligence to recognise what I needed, that it was perfectly ok to cry and that he didn’t need to fix anything, he just needed to be there and show he cared. This made me stop and appreciate that through our kids seeing us doing it tough some days, physically, mentally or emotionally, that they have the capacity to learn from it and know that it’s ok to have these feelings. That is ok to cry, this is nothing to be ashamed of, that’s it ok to own your feelings whether they are good or bad and that empathy and compassion go a long way. I was so proud of him for the compassion he showed and that his primary concern was me being ok.
And you know what happened? That made me move past how I was feeling, let go a little and was able to be in the moment with him. Soon we started laughing and having a pillow fight and the stresses of the day got put back into perspective and into a manageable amount. When I kissed him goodnight tonight I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him for being so thoughtful and sweet to me and his response…’I love you mummy’. Yep insert melting heart right here!!
So next time you are making the decision whether to shield your children from how you are feeling or whether to be honest, pause for a moment and perhaps give them the opportunity to show you how much they love and care about you, sometimes their strength and compassion might just surprise you.