My M feels big. Her happy is BIG. Her sad is BIG. Her frustrated is BIG. All the feelings all the time can be a lot for that tiny, but fierce, little thing. It’s a lot for me too if I’m being completely honest. It’s constant unpacking, talking through, and strategizing. It’s a lot of work, especially for M.
We were given a book recently that teaches kids about feelings and worries. It’s a fabulous book that brings awareness to feelings in a way that kids can truly understand and connect to. As we were reading it one night, I shared with her that a lot of what we were reading reminded me of someone. Me. Her eyes got big and wide as she listened to me talk about the way that I felt as a little girl and the way that I sometimes still feel as a grown up. I told her that I was learning right along with her, and that reading this book with her was also helping me.
I’ll never forget the look on her face. Surprise, confusion, connection, and relief all rolled into one little quizzical expression. I could see in that moment a little exhale for the fact that she wasn’t doing this alone. This work wasn’t just her work to do. It’s very much mine too. Our responses and reactions to these big feelings either help to perpetuate them or to regulate them and bring her slightly closer to center. Some days the responsibility feels so heavy. Some days I feel like I’m finally getting it and we are moving forward. Some days she leads, and some days I’m the one pulling us along.
It’s a unique experience to work through something with your child that you also feel on a very deep level. It’s humbling and it’s hard. More than anything, I find this work with my M inspiring. Because she’s amazing, and watching her journey through struggles with grit, and grace, and determination makes me want to be a better person. If she can do it, then I can too. There isn’t anyone else I’d rather walk beside on this uncertain and ever evolving road. But we can do this. She and I. Hand in hand.
Find the joy,
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.