Last night Lilly ran her first real cross country race. It was close to 90 degrees outside. The race was 2 miles. We aren't runners. (Meaning, we have been AWFUL at helping her practice!) She'd been at school all day. She had physical therapy after school to help deal with ongoing feet trouble. She was saying at the start line, "I gotta peeeeee" but it was too late for that. All the cards were stacked against her.
A lot of her friends have been running for several years. They've put in hours and hours and hours of time practicing. They were SO good! They won medals, which made me OVERCOME with JOY for those hard working kiddos. I adore this sport because it's a place where hard work really does pay off. If you want to win a medal, you've gotta work. There are no trophies just for showing up, which Mike and I LOVE!!!!
I could burst with PRIDE for every kid who gets out there and does what they do. I don't care what team their shirt says, I cheer for them all like a crazy person!!! I'm not a runner, but it looks so hard!!!! I totally admire each and every kid, from the first place runner to the last. They all have to persevere!
Anywho, I could tell by the look on Lil's face that she was WRECKED when she finished. She wasn't last, but closer to the back of the group than she wanted to be! It took everything she had not to cry in front of her friends. To be honest, I wanted to cry with her. (I hate that I am so darn emotional!) I knew she didn't expect a medal, but she wasn't expecting to be that far back. As mom guilt goes, I started thinking...Is this partly my fault? I should have practiced with her more. I should have taken her to physical therapy sooner. I should have let her run in second, third, and fourth grade when all of her friends were running. If you're a momma bear, you can maybe relate to all the crud that fills our heads.
Mike could NOT relate to my cruddy feelings! Ha! He was like, "We couldn't have had her run. We had newborns and toddlers through those years. It would have been nearly impossible. Besides, it's good for her to not be great at everything she does. School work is easy for her. She's a good swimmer. She's taught herself piano. All kinds of gymnastics moves. This is so good for her character building. This will force her to work harder. To practice more. To have empathy for others when they struggle.
And I, of all people, know it's the trials and pain in life that make us tougher, smarter, and digger deeper to get better. But still, if you are a momma, you just want your kids to succeed. To shine!
When my heart is filled with emotions for them, I always try to settle down and think, What can I learn from all of these emotions? How can I go from emotional, to problem-solving?
So, after we got everyone settled in back at home, I sat down to talk with her about the race. I was mainly just trying to help her identify all the emotions of the night.
"You probably felt a little embarrassed, right?"
"Kind of Jealous?"
Followed by some Problem Solving.
What can we do to help you get better?
What do you need to do to get better?
We try to acknowledge their feelings so that they can deal with them? Are you Angry? Afraid? Jealous? Worried? Anxious? Nervous? I can usually quickly tell what they are feeling based on the situation. I want them to get the feelings out of their system. Off of their chest.
I truly feel like it is all of the suppressed emotions that make us Weak. Tired. Frustrated. Irritable. Sad. Anxious. Alone.
Just acknowledging what they are feeling by saying....
It's okay to feel embarrassed. I know that feeling. I hate it too.
It's okay to be jealous. It happens to all of us.
I can see why you are so mad about that. I would be mad too!
It is like medicine for their soul. They really just want someone to acknowledge and accept the way they feel. Without ridicule or anger.
When I first read about this way of dealing with emotions in the book called How to Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, I thought it sounded a little Hocus Pocus. I remember thinking, I don't want a bunch of drama kings and queens up in my house! But the exact opposite is true for our kids. They really are pretty joyful most of the time.
I feel like when we take the time to help them process through what they are feeling, usually quickly, they get over the issue much faster. I can see a sense of peace wash over them. It is as if they are saying, Thank you for acknowledging my feelings. For not making me feel embarrassed or ashamed of them. Now I can move on and have my Joy back.
I did this with Ella this morning. (She's Two) She fell out of her chair. I said, "Ouch, that must have hurt so bad!" And she cried for less than a minute and hopped right back up and went on with her business. She just needed my acknowledgement of her pain and a little hug.
As we are taking Lukey to new doctors, I can sense his fear, and say, "I know this seems so scary! I get kinda scared going to the doctor sometimes too. But we are right here with you. We'll make sure that you are okay." And that usually does the trick for him.
Anytime we see that they have BIG feelings, if I just take a minute to empathize, to acknowledge, to offer a hug, they tend to get over the issue so much faster than when we just brush them off!
Last weekend the tagline of our sermon was "It could be worse!" And that can sometimes be great advice for grown-ups. Had I said to Lilly, "Well, it could be worse, you could have been dead last" It would not have set well with her.
I want them to be kiddos who feel their feelings and learn how to problem solve with them. To deal with them and get on with life. As grown ups I want them to call a close friend and say, "You won't believe the dumb thing I did today." Or "Do ever feel jealous when______?" or "Do you feel like you might just jump off a cliff if your kiddos does _________ one more time????"
I'm a HUGE fan of "Get your junk off of your chest!" I've said this before, but Whatever you are hiding in the dark (too ashamed to admit) is probably eating you alive and maybe wrecking your life and the little people around you.
I'd love for us to raise a generation of kids who learn to talk about their emotions and and not Bully other kids with them. Kids who build others up. Kids who get knocked down in life but know how to get up and work through the emotions and come out BETTER because of them. Kids who live in a home where it is safe to say, I am so embarrassed. I am so scared. I am so worried., etc. and they know a grown up will love them unconditionally and help them Problem Solve through whatever life throws their way.
I have to add this. Since that race, she's been going out to run after dinner. As it usually goes, Mike was right! All that misery she went through at the first meet MOTIVATED her to TRY HARDER!! To put in more WORK.
And this is why I firmly believe it's good that men and women, moms and dads are made to be totally different. Where I can help Lilly deal with her emotions, Mike can see the big picture and how the struggle is helpful for REAL LIFE!
If you are often mad at your spouse for NOT thinking like you do, you could start to see it as a blessing....but that is writing for another day!
And if you need some biblical motivation to calm you down....
"Let your gentleness be evident to all." Philippians 4:5
"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8
Showing LOVE in the LOWS of LIFE is equally as important as showing LOVE in the HIGHS of Life!