I look at new moms these days and I reminisce in a snarky sort of manner. I look at their beautiful newborn babies, their motherly, after-birth bellies and I cannot help but remember the physical and emotional struggles of that time. The unknowns, the new field of learning…
I feel like I have come such a long way since then. I have lived through having my children in diapers, the midnight feedings, the sleepless nights. I recall those simple trips to the grocery store that seemed daunting and ended in myself feeling more overwhelmed than I ever thought was possible. I remember feeling true anxiety and exhaustion for the first time. I think of the first steps, eating solids, terrible twos, potty training, sleep training, endless vaccinations and long days I thought would never end.
And while I feel that I have experienced a lot, really, my mom career has only been seven years long. In the workforce, I am still considered a novice. And I am realizing lately that every stage my kids enter, is a new phase of parenting firsts and new lessons to learn as a mom. Managing emotions seems to be topping my list these days.
Now, one would think it is my children’s emotions I am referring to. But sadly, it’s not. I am learning that it’s necessary to grow a thick skin to endure the normal social encounters that my children go through as they meander through elementary school.
Just recently I watched my son being playfully taunted on the playground. I could see his frustration and hurt feelings, but I just had to watch from afar.
My daughter came home recently and relayed the news that she wasn’t invited to a popular girl’s birthday party.
Although entirely different, both situations made my blood boil. Perhaps it’s my own memories of how certain events in my own childhood made me feel, or the feeling of rejection in its most forthright fashion.
When I spoke to each of the kids about these experiences, I found myself having to really watch what I said. I had to provide very mature explanations for something that is simply a part of life. Denying them the hurt feelings, frustration and irritation for themselves would be a disservice. They need to learn how it feels to be on the receiving end of something that’ not all rosy and perfect. If nothing else, it might give them a few memories that will shape the way they treat other kids as they mature.
But it’s hard. While I prompt with mature methods to deal with frustrating situations, I have to really manipulate the immature thoughts that go through my head. And I hope my emotions don’t sway my advice.
It’s an irony of sorts -- that Mamma Bear comes out whenever you feel your kid is wronged but you can’t let the kids see its impact.
So I cannot act on the way I feel. Instead I need to hit the off button of my helicopter’s propeller and cool my engine. In order to make it a good lesson, I have to just sit idle and encourage my children to make good decisions, to weigh situations fairly and look for alternative outcomes. I have already been to elementary school, this trip belongs to my children.