Every once in a while, I'm presented with a time in parenting that you know will leave a footprint on my child's path. Last night was one of those moment. The Frog Princess has been unusually clingy. I got home from the MomsRising staff retreat Saturday morning and she has been under me ever since. I think that two trips during January might've been a bit too much for her.
When I dropped off yesterday, she was weepy and sad, asking if she "had" to stay at school. It was hard to walk away because I recall all too well days when I, as a child, felt the same way. I remember one day where I ran back to Mami after drop off and she allowed me to go home with her. Every time the girl gets like this, I fight that urge to bundle her up and take her home.
She requested special cuddle time after dinner and bath time. I happily obliged. We read a book and then just snuggled up with nothing but our words.
Out of my girl flowed a string of thoughts and feelings that made me ache.
First, she said she was sad that I hadn't picked her up (one of the moms called to say she could and I said okay). I apologized for that as I'd told her that I would pick her up that day. I was reminded that I shouldn't break my word.
Then I said something else and she told me "Mami, you said sorry". See, I've been telling her to not apologize so much. When I go to correct her, she says sorry. It's a bad habit that I realize now she's picked up from me. I explained that we were starting new habits and I needed her help whenever she heard me saying that word. We talked a bit about that and then she told me this:
Mami, when I hear the word "sorry" it makes me sad.
I hope that I've started reversing the trend of the apologetic female.
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We talked a little more and out came this conversation about how she doesn't like people to see her cry because she doesn't like to be asked what's wrong. That led to us chatting about how it was okay to cry. This is what got me though.
I feel like even if I am not happy I have to act like I'm happy. Like I have show people I'm happy.
Well, dear friend, you can imagine how that made me feel. Why is my girl feeling pressure to be happy all the time? Is it something I said? Something I did?
After a prayer in my head, I explained carefully that she did not have to appear to be happy. That if she wanted space to feel what she felt, she could do so in her room. I poured as much love into her as I could and reminded her that her dad and I always wanted to know how she felt. And that it was of the utmost importance that she always remain true to her heart. That we would love her through anything.
I hope my words coated her heart and that the intent behind everything I said covered her soul from now until the end of time.
I saw her make a decision today that she normally wouldn't have made. I saw her say no to something that she normally would've gone along with. Today, I saw her guarding her heart and owning her feelings.
I pray that I am always able to offer up words that will help her along the way. It's not easy but I feel truly humbled and honored that she shared so much of herself with me. I am keenly aware that it might not last but while I have it, I will cherish and enjoy it.