Lessons from my children

If this blog were a box of tissues I could fill it on many days.  Well, after some much recent discussion with a good friend, I realize how much I put on the “it’s fine” face, “I am strong” face, “I have it under control” face.  How often I am not just real with the world because then I look weak, out of control, and appear to need sympathy.  I also then have to face my own questions I ask when people say they have a problem and I think “what have you done to fix it?”

Emotions are a very touchy subject in our home.  We have worked a lot with Sam and teaching him “socially acceptable” reactions to things as much as possible. However, there are times; even at Idelwild that all it took was a look at his face and know a meltdown was fast approaching.  When he has had all he can take (the triggers vary), can’t be perfect in his mind, or is faced with a frustration, it is a meltdown.  He doesn’t stuff his feelings but just pours them out.  At times, he can put words to the emotion (he has come so far) and others it is beyond words.  When the meltdowns happen I am usually okay, but times I probably secretly want him to learn how to hold them in when we are in public so others don’t see.  That is truly not because I want to stifle him, but I don’t want his weaknesses bared for others to take advantage of him (kids thinking he is an easy target since a “cry baby”  and adults thinking “what is wrong with him” ) But in reality there is nothing “wrong with him”, Sam is the REAL DEAL and I am a fake.   While he lets the frustration out, he generally quickly moves on to a happier place.  Sometimes we just have to walk away.  He doesn’t harbor the feelings but moves forward.

I have taught Mary to be more like me in more ways than I probably should have.  Granted, she can pour it all out to / against me – especially in our heated “devil advocate” conversations.  But, it is never disrespectful to me just being honest.  However, I have taught her in other situations that if you show them how you feel – THEY WIN!  She can be so much more emotional than I am, and at times that is so hard.  It is hard for me to guide her because I don’t know often what to say or how to say it.  Recently, we talked about a situation and she said another phrase that has stuck in my head (note a reminder of the last thing that sunk into me was something like just because other people have bigger problems does not make my problems any less important).  She said something along the lines (with tears)  of what hurts most is believing that everything we shared together is able to be thrown away, like it never happened and meant nothing.  My suggestion was to her to be honest and say it.  Her reply, but then they will know I am hurt and they win.  MY WORDS of teaching her to be strong and overcome situations so the other person/people do not see the real you… don’t let them win.  My crappy advice has taught her not to be real with her emotions.  It also taints her world that when you are honest with someone you care about that they would honestly be cruel enough to be glad they caused hurt.  And I can think of some situations that I did not save the relationship because I wasn’t honest on how much it hurt.  It honestly makes me cry.  It is hard to see your child hurt and even harder to see them not feel they can express themselves honestly ,especially if it is because of something you taught them.  When you don’t express them you stuff them and they weigh on your heart everyday.  Unlike Sam and just moving forward.

I use to be real when I was a bedside nurse.  Rarely would a day go by that I wouldn’t cry with or for a patient.  I am not sure when the switch got changed.  Maybe all the years of infertility while others around us had children, and I faked I am fine. Maybe it was all the years of being strong watching my mom waste away because I didn’t want her to worry about me.  Maybe it is cumulative life events.

For me, if I loose it emotionally then I have lost control, but who am I kidding, there are very little things in life I could say I have under control.  Some believe tears are a sign of weakness, and I would have to disagree because I have seen my dad cry and he is my pillar of strength.  I will openly cry in public at a funeral of a loved one.  However, crying for me is a loss of control.  It places me at risk for what others to believe something differently about me than I want them too.  So maybe it is life events, or maybe it is just one of the few areas I feel like I have control of – my tears.

Is it really better to not show them the real you, even if you risk having your heart on your sleeve and you get hurt?  Or is it better to be fake and not let people into the real you?  I guess there are consequences to either situation, but my heart says to take the risk and be real.  It may in fact mean that I may feel the other person “wins’ by seeing my weakness, but in reality, I win for being true to myself.

When I am not honest and don’t let friends know I am having a hard time, my husband know I am having a hard time, etc.  I rob them of the chance to pray for me.  I know I love getting a text, email, private message that just says they need a prayer, so I can lift them up.  Why am I not so honest to let others lift me up.  Granted the “big stuff” they know about (illness, deaths in family, etc…), but as Mary so wisely spoke the little things are often just as important!  p.s. this does not mean I have to expose/disclose on Facebook (LOL)

In life, you are suppose to teach your children, but I have quickly learned that Mary and Sam have taught me more about life, myself, and a whole different view than I could ever blog about.  How is it that I can look at either of my children and recognize the sign that they have had enough, but I can look in the mirror at my own reflection and keep stuffing in more and don’t even recognize the signs?  To watch Sam be so honest with words, feelings and emotions is humbling.  To watch Mary mature and speak words of wisdom to me is indescribable.  I have a lot to learn from them both… starting with be careful that my words and actions (of things I don’t like about myself) don’t come creeping out of their mouths and their actions.  Also, I could definitely be a lot more like Sam and be completely honest about my emotions.   I always joke with Mary “doesn’t it stink when you open your mouth and your mother’s words come out?”  Although, I realize now there were times they were not my words.  I think my principle should be “Isn’t it awesome when I open my mouth and my children’s words come out”!

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