“The family is a school of compassion because it is here that we learn to live with other people.” –Karen Armstrong
My sweet six-year-old boy has been stressed lately. It has been noticeably escalating and it has been heavy on my heart. To see his little shoulders up so high and tight and hear the sound of his voice so heavy with stress while responding to everyday things has been tearing at my soul. He has been frustrated and easily irritated. It has all been very out of character for this light in our lives. I can remember how this phase of life is stressful…in between the cute tiny guy and the little kid with budding responsibilities and expectations, etc., so I was trying to accept it and go with the flow of it a bit. I do believe firmly in guiding him towards his personal best though, so I am sure he has been hearing plenty from me about self-control, etc., along the way. His stress wasn’t huge…just there…and taking my boy further and further away from the joy he so easily resided in before. As I tried to be in the flow and avoid the fear of this being the new normal with him I kept it real with myself, knowing that I am the mother of our environment and I must be contributing to this in some way.
One night this week I found myself just about in tears from what felt was becoming a different relationship between he and I…we are very close and I just felt so sad about the new disconnection. I just missed him so much and it felt like he was constantly on me about one thing or another…just kind of checking with me all the time saying “What is it Mom?” when I wasn’t even thinking anything and taking every move I made personally as if I had some serious issue with him. It was like being under a microscope and it was dreadful. I felt tight all over and not the best version of my mommy self as I tucked him in. Tuck-in time was even different. Ugh.
After getting him to bed, I shed a few tears to clear out my energy and bring myself back to the present moment…and, of course, made the connection. All that I had been feeling from him must be exactly how he had been feeling from me. Although I had been trying to help with his stress in various ways and at times just accepting it and going with the flow…I had been adding to it. I just knew I could help ease his suffering and in the process ease mine…
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” –Dalai Lama
To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought after that. Answers like the one I needed don’t come from thoughts. I went strictly with the heart on this one. It was perfect. He came into my room first the next morning, which is unusual around here…my daughter is the morning person. He came first and alone. I scooped him into my arms and without having planned it or rehearsed it or even thought about it in any way…I poured my heart out in just way he needed to hear it and could understand it. While holding him tight, I told him…”Do you know that I have never ever been disappointed in you? I have never been. I have always been so very proud of you. You are such an amazing person and you are just the best thing in the world to me. You are my heart and I love you with everything I am. I have never been disappointed by anything you have done and I just adore and appreciate you so very much.” …I went on to explain that I still need to be the mommy and help him make good choices, but I truly feel only joy and gratitude for all that he is to me. I asked him if he knew the part about me never being disappointed in him…he said he didn’t. It all made sense.
He’s been getting bigger and he is preparing for more expectations and responsibilities. He was feeling that we were disappointed in him for the first time in his life. What a terrible feeling. That is what takes the joy and spark out of the kids…feeling that they disappoint. It is hard to make the transition from baby to little kid. Love and compassion are the only way. Since we had that discussion he has been back…in a big way. He immediately expanded and softened and all the stress came out of him. His eyes have been sparkling, he has been giggling and going with the flow of life again. Hurray! When I tucked him in at the end of the night, I asked him his favorite part of the day, he said, “I just loved hugging Mommy.” We had such a cuddly happy day and we were reconnected and back to ourselves. We have a few days under our belts now and we’re better for the experience.
I know I never want to allow my kids to feel I am disappointed in them again. I never was and he still felt it in some way. It’s worth taking the time to tell the children that I’m not disappointed just to make sure they don’t take my mothering personally. I know I must do everything I can to live in that space that isn’t reacting to life…that calm force in the kids lives that can make them feel safe, loved and connected no matter what comes our way.
Mommy Reality Check – Today my daughter, who has been the picture of happiness the whole time her brother was stressed showed signs of a big case of bad energy. I felt the shift and realized that even though she loves us both dearly, it was hard for her to feel he and I so close again. Some part of her thought she would lose something. I did everything I could to connect with her and reassure her that she means the world to me just like him. We discussed how we always want all of our team members in this family to feel their very best and having one of us stressed out in any way is bad for all of us, etc. She tried, but her energy lagged here and there and required lots of talks. Whew, motherhood is a major spiritual practice. I am up for it and so very grateful for the gift that it is. Sometimes I feel like I have been squeezed dry of all my energy, but I always replenish and get back to spreading love.
Love Story – when I shared the discussion my son and I had about me never being disappointed in him with my husband that night, I saw tears in his eyes. He was visibly touched for us both and his deep love and compassion showed. We had a great talk about it, it was lovely.
“The dew of compassion is a tear.” –Lord Byron
This family is a school of compassion. All families are. What a blessing!
Wishing you all love, compassion, joy, cuddles and a family full of team members that know they haven’t disappointed each other, ever.