Monday, August 07, 2006

Someday You'll Understand...

Why am I so frightened to let my children feel fear and pain, disappointment and unfulfilled desire? I know that, in many circumstances, it is my job to let them experience these things so that they can grow spiritually and emotionally and learn to trust themselves, but in the heat of the moment my first instinct is to rush to them and soothe the hurt and get them exactly what they want.

Today Eve had a friend over to play. My daughters are such good friends and wonderful playmates, but Eve is becoming more independent and desires privacy and some opportunities to do things without her tag-along little sister. I understand that and want to protect that for her. I had to struggle mightily to remember that when Lola came to me sobbing, incredibly sad that the older girls didn't want to include her in their game. She was truly confused that they didn't want to play with her and took it to mean that they didn't like her. "I want to tell them that if they let me play I'll be the nicest person in the world to them," she spluttered, and my heart ripped a little.

Last week when her Eve was fighting to overcome her terror at having a dental procedure done, Lola (brave warrior that she is), climbed into the chair and invited the assistant to explore her mouth first. She was more than happy to have her teeth probed in order to assuage her older sister's fears. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, but later that day, Eve reached out and took Lola's hand and thanked her softly for trying to help. I nearly burst into tears. They have such a fantastic bond, these two lovely girls.

I tried to help this devastated little girl understand that sometimes it's important to focus on one person at a time. She was not being mean or inappropriate in any way. I spent a few desperate minutes trying to come up with fun things for the two of us to do, but she refused them all, just as desperate to convince the older girls to invite her into their game. I wanted so badly to fix her pain, but I had to respect Eve's boundaries, too. I had to let Lola hurt and hopefully learn that I will protect her interests when she, too, sets boundaries. I don't think she's buying it yet, but if I can keep my "eye on the prize", maybe someday she'll thank me.

5 comments:

jennifer said...

There is only one way to approach motherhood...with total surrender. Any other way and we are a wreck! I just surrender over and over again and they amaze me with their resiliance and their joy and their bullsh$%!

Thank you for your post and your honesty.

ammogirl said...

I KNOW what you mean. It's so hard, because there is nothing you can do. Wahhh...who knew being a mom would be so damn heartbreaking?

Michelle O'Neil said...

Beautiful post Kari. It is so hard to watch our kids suffer! This is something I'm working on!

A good opportunity for the little one to "practice" what it feels like to be left out. A compassion building practice if handled the right way..which I think you did.

You're a great mommy!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Wonderful piece, Kari. I agree with the other comments. It's good to articulate to children, "You are practicing wanting and not getting," or "You are practicing being alone, and learning how to entertain yourself." These are KEYS to life! Truly, you are doing both girls, and you, a tremendous favor, hard as it is! I love to tell my husband that the fact that his parents gave him a perfect childhood, was child abuse, he doesn't have a clue how to handle conflict/adversity/disappointment, etc.

Miss Devylish said...

They are both going to be stronger individuals because of you.. you know that? You're an outstanding mom.. it's so obvious. They'll make it honey.. they will be just fine.

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