Please Be Gentle with My Bruises
I’m about to lay bare my heart...because I don’t want this space to showcase just my glamour shots. I want it to be real. Authentic. My life in all its messy glory.
So here it is. Yesterday was awful. Just plain bad.
It was more than the typical disruptions, sibling disputes, and toddler tantrums. It was way bigger.
The arguments were battles of brothers with fists flying and fire shooting from eyes. When I stepped in to mediate, a fist or two was raised toward me. Just as it seemed the storm was passing, another one reared its ugly head and we were caught up in its spinning winds again. No one was hurt thankfully. Well, at least not physically, but the wounded hearts are the real story.
There were tears. So many tears. From my boys and me. Sobs of the unfairness and frustration and rejection. Some were mine. Some were my boys. With all this emotion hanging in the air, our home was a heavy place, and I was at a loss as to how to make it better.
Being a parent is hard. There are days that completely knock you down and you wonder just how you’ll find the courage to get back up.
Even on a good day, when all six of my kiddos are seemingly angelic, and we’re out at the grocery store, someone will ask me, “How do you do it?” I’m never sure if they want an honest answer or just a smile and a chuckle, but I always choose honesty.
“How do I do it? I don’t know.”
This answer usually makes people uneasy and they reply with the smile and chuckle. Of course, it’s not my intention to make anyone uncomfortable, but the truth is, I don’t know how I do it. I just do. Somehow. Each day is a challenge and gift. New twists on old arguments pop up like rain clouds threatening to ruin a sunny day. The truth is I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have to, and neither do you.
As I reflected in the day with a longer than long shower and some chocolate, I made three conclusions.
1) My default mode must always be love and calm. Responding in anger will never help. In the midst of their own big emotions, my children need me to be the eye of the storm. That place where they can stand while everything else swirls around them and feel safe.
2) Parenting is hard and we need to support each another. There’s no need to hide the challenges of parenting from each other. We all know how difficult it can be. Pretending that it isn’t only alienates us.
3) Let go when it’s time to let go and hold on when it’s time to hold on. In the midst of my boys’ arguments, I needed to hold on; to them, to my own emotions, to love. I needed to love them through it. But when it was over, I needed to let go. After hearts were heard and hugs shared, it was time to let go. I had to resist the urge to talk about it just a little more in my attempt to ensure it will never happen again. As they were joking with each other and playing tag at the end of the day, I had to bite my tongue, when all I wanted to shout was, “All of that arguing and now you’re acting like nothing happened?!” I had to let them be. To soak in what they were able to learn from the situation for where they are individually. This is the hardest part. As their parent, it hurts to see them hurt. And angers me to see how they treat each other. But I cannot control that. All I can do is model love and compassion. The rest is up to them. But man, that is so hard!!
So there it is. My imperfect snapshot. Bruises and all. So hang in there! You’re not alone.