We live in a world with increasing demands on our time and attention. Choices abound as to how to spend our free time and responsibilities at work and in the home increase as everyone takes on more hobbies and activities.
Yet to really connect with someone, you need stillness. You need to be fully present. And you need to WANT to be in that moment. Children aren’t any different than adults in that they can sense whether someone truly wants to be with them, or if they are a responsibility on a checklist.
When I was working and the kids were still babies I would get home completely exhausted. There was a running list of chores to get done and goals that had been gathering dust on a shelf. It was impossible for me to just sit on the floor with my three-year-old and BE with her. My thoughts were racing too fast. I was tempted to check my email, my messages and felt my eyes suddenly growing heavy. If I sat still for a few minutes I was falling asleep.
So what did I do? I changed things. We scaled back on activities, meeting friends and on anything we could. Suddenly, there was more room to breathe. There was room to sit with my daughter and just cuddle with her every day. Sometimes she didn’t say anything at all.
But after a while, she started opening up and talking to me about things that had been troubling her. Sometimes she was sad, or angry and that was okay. I didn’t go anywhere, nor did I try to jolly her out of it, or find a distraction from her sadness.
I believe that if we, and the people around us, let us really feel our emotions, they fill us up and then drift away. Like so many bubbles on a summer day. I am warning you though, it isn’t easy as a Mom to allow negative emotions to just be.
Moms take on a lot of responsibility for their children’s happiness. As we should. But I believe just because your child is feeling sad or angry, doesn’t mean you have done something wrong as a Mum, especially as kids get older and venture out into the world. It just means they are human.
I have really been thinking about this because yesterday one of my children was feeling very sad, but didn’t want to talk about why. It took all my willpower to drop everything and just sit and be with my child and not do anything, but cuddle.
After an hour I took them out on a walk. Just the two of us. And then we returned home and just cuddled on the coach again, talking about what we can do when negative emotions overwhelm us.
And that, my friends, is one of the best things I think we can do for you children besides making them feel unconditionally loved: help them learn how to deal with their negative emotions. So that as they grow into teenagers and adults, they don’t eat, drink, sex, drug, extreme exercise, work, video game excessively, or (insert self-destructive behavior here I haven’t listed.) Also, that our children don’t take their negative emotions and hurl them aggressively at the people they love the most, or turn them inward and hurl them at themselves.
For healthy coping mechanism develops in my children, I am willing to put everything aside and just BE there. I am sure you are too. And what happens is not only is my child more balanced and happier today after an afternoon of my undivided, quiet attention, but I feel more serene and connected too.
Wishing you serenity, strength and the power to sit still with those you love the most, Heather Nadine