I don’t cry in front of my kid often. I believe I’ve only cried in front of her a total of 3 times (maybe, including this one) in the 10 years we have been together.
She is 14.
She came to live with me when she was 4. Long story, and not my story to tell. But hers to tell when she is ready, or if she desires.
But I’ve always held my feelings in…because I grew up understanding that my feelings didn’t matter, only the feelings of my narcissistic parents. So I shut myself away, cried in my pillow, and surfaced later as if nothing was wrong. Because if something was wrong, it probably was my fault anyway.
But this is NOT the way I want to raise this beautiful kid. As much as I try to get myself there, I always feel that my feelings don’t matter, and that no one will care if I am happy, sad or mad. So I have kept these tears only for myself-a bit narcissistic in itself don’t you think?
I read somewhere that if we were raised by parents with mental instabilities, and as a result we felt less than…..then it is very possible we will acquire the poor treatment and treat others the same.
I hope to God that is not that case. I feel I try extra hard to not be like my APs. And yet, while raising my oldest, I did many things they did to me, with the thought that it was the “best” thing to do. But now I’ve evolved, and my parenting has to as well.
As I sat at my desk yesterday, just returned from a horrible experience with my biological family, I couldn’t hold back the tears. In my mind I knew my kid would come home from school, but I just had to let it out. I was crying uncontrollably. I just couldn’t stop. Even Lilly (you all know Lilly my border collie) came to my aid.
I heard the door unlock and I tried to stifle the tears but stifling it made my sobs sound even louder. Every day I greet my kids with “YAAAAY……how was school?” She is use to hearing those words….and she is use to feeling my emotions. I am genuinely happy to see her after school and to know how she feels, and how school went. Some days it’s “ah, horrible!” Other days it’s “OMG mom, I’m so sleepy”. On other days (usually Fridays) it’s “my day was good.” But most days it’s “my day was ok.”
But I couldn’t get the words out because I was sobbing, now louder than normal. She came over and asked me what was wrong…..she asked me “mom, are you ok?” I told her I was not. I couldn’t pretend. I told her I was not ok but that I would be ok. I told her that I just needed to cry.
She stood there (usually she has to pee right away because she hates using the bathroom at school and then she takes Lilly to the bathroom) and rubbed my back. And she listened as I told her about my very scary and frustrating day.
It’s amazing how much empathy teens can have; especially when they feel they can connect. I don’t think she had sympathy for me. I think she truly felt it. As I hugged her, I listened to her heart beat and it was super fast.
She was worried about me.
After the good cry, she went to the bathroom, got an ice cream, and then took the dog out.
That evening (I had taken a nap because that is how I deal with some of my sadness) my wife came in and woke me up. She came home earlier than normal because she knew I was under a lot of stress. She sat with me, Lily felt it appropriate to get on the bed and lay beside me. And then The teen joined us. She brought with her Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty and she explained to me that it does not have to be for just thinking but it can be for stress too.
She ripped her bit in half and gave me the other half. She and I molded the putty with our hands while I played an online game of chess and she yelled at the opponent because of some real bad moves they made resulting in me eating the queen, both rooks, and one bishop.
My wife watched and worked at the same time.
At dinner, instead of cooking, we ordered. Then we sat in front of our projector and did something we don’t normally do on a school night. We watched a show together as a family.
We needed it. We needed to unwind. My daughter needed to see me cry. I needed a nap. We needed to order. We needed family time. Lilly needed to get on the bed.
This morning, as I got ready for the day and came to sit down at my computer I see a container that says on the side: Bounce it, stretch it, tear it, pop it, sculpt it.
Before getting on the bus, my daughter had left me all her Putty so that if I were to have another rough time, I could use it not for thinking but for stress.