This post today made me cry. Maybe I’m hormonal, or maybe I can just relate to watching your child feel truly, genuinely sad. Kerry has been a long-time blogger friend of mine, and she and her family went through a trial in their life recently that I’m sure changed them forever. She shares about how she had to be brave when her child was feeling sad. How many times have we had to hide our own sadness to be strong for our children? Make sure when you are done reading her post that you stop by her awesome blog, Winding Road. She shares all kinds of amazing ideas and thoughts on living a more meaningful life, and her posts are always thought-provoking. If you want to be part of my Be Brave Guest Post Series, go here.
The realization finally hit my daughter, one month after the flood, that we were not going back home. The night before the flood, everything was status quo. We put them to bed and bid them sweet dreams. Then at 4:30am, we scooped them out of bed in the dark and waded through knee-deep water in the pouring rain to our flooded van that drove to their grandmother’s house only minutes away. That was the last time they were inside their home. And she wanted to go back and could not understand why we were not. Up until that moment, sitting at the dining room table one month later, I think she thought it all a big adventure and something exciting to tell her friends. She did not realize what it all meant, until something clicked in her mind as her father and I continued our daily conversation of housing options.
Her fork went down and the sobs began, real sobs, take your breath away sobs; tears that reflected such deep sadness and pain. She was experiencing what I had felt many times over the last few weeks and I knew how painful it was. Yet, the pain came rushing back to me again in a torrent watching it happen to my young child. I could feel the pain begin again inside of me because I wanted to give her everything she needed, to say we would go back and all would be as it should. I wanted to cradle her innocence and shield her from the devastation. I wanted her life to continue to be pristine with a home she could spend her whole childhood and keep the memories close.
But I could not lie; I could not make it all better. I had to be honest, but more importantly, I had to allow her to feel her sadness fully because feeling it is the only way we can truly move forward. I did not say much other than, “it is going to be okay. It is okay to feel sad but our home is where our family is”. I needed her to know that this was not something we were taking away from her so I told her, “I have cried about this many times, babe. I don’t want this either. It’s not fair” A light bulb look came across her eyes in realization that even mommy gets sad and this is something even mommy can’t fix.
My son had a hard time in the first couple of weeks. He is almost three and was most stricken by his routines being turned upside down. He said many times in the first few days that he wanted to go home, asked if our house was still wet, told me to go clean it. He misbehaved and lashed out. It was painful to watch him suffer because he could not understand any of it. But he quickly adjusted and rarely asks about our “wet house” anymore.
I kept those tears inside that night at the dinner table though because even though I told her I had them, if I let them out again, they would come in a storm of sobs and that is not what she needed. She needed to know that her parents are taking care of things, that we are solid, that we are sad but not broken and all will be okay. Because it will. I can be brave for my children because I can feel their pain. I understand their hurts and have felt them deeply myself. I can be brave because I know that I can cry later but in the moments with them, I have to guide them and be their support because they depend on me.
The next day, I ordered two children’s books about moving to a new home. One was perfect because it was about a badger family who moved because their home had leaks. When the books arrived, my daughter was eager to hear the stories. We read them at bedtime and when they were finished, she asked excitedly, “When do we move into our new house?”
Children are so very resilient. So many wonderful lessons can be learned from a child. They feel their emotions completely but they do not dwell on them. They move forward because they have their parents to lead them in a healthy direction. They trust us and feel secure that we know what we are doing. Empathy and trust help me to be brave; to plow forward knowing that all will be okay because my children teach me courage in their resilience. My job is to lead them and I will do so with a brave heart for nothing is more important than guiding them on the right path to follow.