I recently came across a quote that stuck with me and made me think. “Never let your storm get your kids wet.” Here’s why it stuck with me…because I don’t agree with it. Let’s face it; life is hard. And I have weathered some pretty serious storms as an adult. Have I shielded my children from all of them? Nope. Do I put my children in impossible situations that are not appropriate to their maturity level? Also nope. But to NEVER have my children see me as less than my best? Or NEVER have them witness a breakdown? Next to impossible. Nowadays, society says to buck up and get over it, no matter what it is that is causing us to feel things. Tears and sadness are a sign of weakness. We are adults and we should be able to deal with whatever it is that is causing us to have any sort of emotion.
But if we don’t let ourselves feel the small things, what about when the big things happen?
When I lost my mom to cancer two years ago, the days and weeks that came after her passing were spent in a constant state of a foggy existence for me. I was basically numb and on autopilot. I tried to be Superwoman and keep it all together for the sake of my family. This was not healthy. Once the fog cleared, all the feelings came. I would find myself breaking down in front of my then seven-year-old and having to explain why. I then went through immense feelings of guilt for subjecting my small children to my grieving. My daughter would ask me why I was sad and I slowly learned it was okay to just be honest with her. I would simply say I was sad because I missed Mom Mom. This took care of two things. First, it let her know I wasn’t upset because of her and second it showed her that I am not a robot, and that when you lose a loved one, it is perfectly acceptable to show sadness.
It took me a while to get to this point.
I had this idea in my head that my children needed to be protected from my sadness and grief and if they weren’t, then I felt guilty for exposing them. But what I was going through was reality, and so why not be ok with them seeing mommy weather a storm that didn’t bring sunshine and rainbows? And the reality is that life is hard! It would be silly for me to say I am going to be able to protect my children from all the bad things life is going to throw their way. So rather than feel guilty in my moments of weakness they may witness, I am growing to accept them as teachable moments.
As mothers, I think it’s important we try to think less about if we are damaging our children with our show of emotions, and more about the fact we are teaching them that displaying emotions appropriate to a situation is not taboo. It is normal and healthy. That way, when it’s their own downpour, whether it be a little sprinkle or a hurricane, they are well equipped for how to handle it. After all, when there’s rain, there’s always a chance for something to bloom.