Sometimes I Have to Look Away

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Staying connected.

I feel so overwhelmed with life sometimes, with my own emotions, with my children’s emotions, with my husband’s emotions. I have always felt a bit rootless, with a membrane too thin. I can’t stand the sight of suffering, I feel the pain of those around me. I struggle to hold space for other people’s struggles, instead I shy away. I have a softness and a loving kindness that I see sometimes as weakness, when I can’t stand up to someone else’s suffering. I want to be able to offer my children, family, and friends the generosity of good listening, of an embrace during a hard time, maybe of just standing in the same room while they sort something out. I have learned not to always offer advice, yet I still have a hard time offering the strength of knowing my own boundaries and place. It is the hardest with those closest to me, especially with Mo. I feel so connected to him and we are of course in such close proximity, that I start to consider his struggles mine, and judge him as harshly as I judge myself. I would like to find some peace around keeping more realistic standards at the forefront of my consciousness, for myself, as well as my family.

With my kids this is the hardest of all, as they are learning their own boundaries and pushing mine, trying to discover their place in our family, and eventually in the world. This is a beautiful process, when I look at it with some distance. In the moment, it is painful and sometimes ugly. The scene of a five year old trying to figure out how much you love them takes many shapes, almost always frustrating and sometimes well disguised. A one year old figuring out how to get attention on a busy day is another show not to be missed. My instinct is to shy away from suffering, to rescue from difficult feelings, to offer tenderness. Sometimes the true answer is not tenderness, but the strength to offer a firm boundary, with love. My children do need boundaries, what they don’t need is me trying to convince them to like everything that happens. I feel the most transformed, and successful as a parent when I am able to support my children through a difficult emotional experience, validating their feelings but not telling them how to feel, and allowing them the space to work it out.

On a somewhat related note, I thought my one year old wouldn’t eat in the high chair anymore because she stopped picking food up off her tray and eating it. I discovered that she will only eat out of a bowl, with a fork. She figured it out on her own and I resist helping her when she struggles to spear something with her fork. She is not frustrated, chasing the food around. She is learning, discovering, working it out. I just have to keep working through my own desire to help her. The truth is, sometimes I have to look away, which is a good lesson in itself.

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Learning how to fill big shoes.

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