As I sat on the floor of our porch, watching my silent tears plop onto the dry concrete, I felt ashamed. I’m an adult – shouldn’t I be crying somewhere more appropriate, like a chair? And why was I wallowing? Shouldn’t I be doing something useful, like sending flowers to the immediate family of my deceased relative?
As my “grown up” brain pecked away at me, my two-year-old walked up, wiped the tears off my face with sweet pudgy little hands and wrapped his arms around my neck. He then proceeded to pat my back and hold me- not saying anything.
In that moment, this tiny person, new to this world, reminded me that it was okay to be human, to feel, to be sad. He didn’t tell me to “buck up,” or “just be grateful that the rest of my family was healthy”, he just let me be- and gave me love.
I often forget how wise children are. Living amongst poopy diapers, intentionally spilt milk, and chewed up crayons I become distracted from the fact that my child is my best teacher- my “live-in-the-moment-just-be-yourself” guru. He unapologetically lives life out loud- I want to do that!
Even the temper tantrums- so honest. That’s right, I said it.
With each passing year, we humans hone our skill of stuffing our emotions down into a chained little box that occasionally lets little pieces of emotion slip out in the form of passive-aggressive quips, hidden eye rolls, or a built up mega-tantrum when someone spills some milk.
I’ve spent many days feeling as though that box of emotions was going to spill over with tears- while desperately wrapping more chains around it.
“I can’t cry- I’m an adult.”
Children are organically comfortable with expressing emotion. They don’t tense up and walk backwards when someone cries- they wipe away their tears or get to crying right alongside them.
This gives me so much respect for my child-“grown up” respect. I think this will make me a better parent, maybe. At least I hope.
Giving up the notion that I need to teach him the ways of the world (because obviously, I’m the all-knowing-adult) feels nice. It takes a bit of the pressure off and reminds me that if I just pay attention, I could learn more from this innocent, open, and curious human than I could ever teach him.
This new-found respect for my child’s authenticity and wisdom has also made me enjoy spending time with him more. Don’t tell anybody, but hanging out with a toddler can sometimes be a tad boring and monotonous. Pushing around tiny cars, eating play dough and repeatedly kicking a ball into the wall just doesn’t have the same pull for me as it used to. But now, now that I’ve discovered the guru-ness within my child, I’m stoked to observe and interact with him. I always learn something- even if the only lesson for the day is “How to Be Zen When Sitting In a Pile of Dirt for an Hour 101.” I’m now a dirt-sittin’-master.
Oh, and I’m no longer emotionally constipated. If that commercial comes on TV, I stub my toe, that time of the month rolls around, or any general bummer pops up- I allow myself to feel it. Without “grown up” shame, I can now express my quirky colors of emotions verbally, ask for a hug, or sit on the floor of that concrete porch and cry.
What has your child taught you today?
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