Thursday, March 29, 2012

Waiting it out

We do our best to keep our lives as simple and stress-free as possible. That makes us all happier, healthier and a million times more fun! Yet, stink-a-muck if life doesn't just happen anyway.

Last week we had some life happen. Outside of our control. It complicated our schedules. It added some fear to some of our kids who already struggle with those feelings. Since that time? Yup. The energy in the house has been pretty oppressive. I'm hearing about a lot of feelings through behaviors. We are also in a new phase of healing and moving forward in the lives of some of our kids. As parents, we are now always leaning toward seeing the behaviors as age appropriate instead of assuming it is trauma related. It's a tough juggle, but our goal is to allow our kids the space to use all they've learned and healed through. Start to live it out on their own. Practice and fall while still in the safeguard of our home.

And fall they do. That's a part of the process. It's not fun, but it has to happen. That's how we all practice getting back up again and repairing anything we damaged along the way.

So, this week I'm trying to practicing waiting. Being patient. Giving space.

"PLEASE leave me alone!"

Okay, so I do.

And I wait.

They walk outside. I don't know where they are going. I let them go and give space. Time. I wait.

They come back in and slam around. Go back to their room. I keep waiting.

When they finally find their way back to me and say they are ready to talk, I start with, "What would you like to say?" And I listen and repeat things back to them and agree. I agree with everything. I hear every single thing they say and I agree with it. Because even if it is not true in my reality, their experience is absolutely true to them. If they say I'm a sucky mom, they believe it and they also believe their life sucks and they may even believe they deserve a sucky mom. They are telling me their truth. And I listen. And I agree. I don't correct or try to fix.

Oh, sometimes I do. Absolutely! Cause I'm so stinkin' human and I get my panties in a wad and I don't WANT to listen. You betcha. After those times, I get myself regulated. I apologize for not listening and ask my child for a do-over (which they always give me! ha!).

The truth is this is really what all children want - especially teenagers. Being a teenager is some hard crap. I remember that. You're stuck in this space between being a child and an adult. You want both and you hate both. It's confusing as heck and many times you just don't have the words. But you want to be heard. You want people to hear your pain and hurt and confusion. Someone to just listen and not say what you are feeling is wrong.

This is hard stuff for a parent, too. No one wants to hear they suck. No one wants to listen to verbal daggers. Hmmmm. I guess that's about as painful as being the person believing and feeling those things.

So, every day I try to be better and better and better about listening. No matter what is said. Hearing the pain of their life experience. Letting them have a place to verbalize it. Being grown up enough to know it's not about me, but I am the obvious place they need to unload it. Finding the privilege in that.

And later, when things settle, saying, "I'm feeling kinda' stinky about earlier. Would you play a game of UNO with me? That would really make me feel connected to you again." The hurt is repaired through shared time or ... whatever we work out together. Even if they do things during that shared time to sabotage the love they're feeling.

Lather, rinse, repeat.


Cari said...

Think I am going to print this out and hang it toilet level so I see it several times a day. Thank you!

Diana said...

Easy to say, hard to do, but worth it!

I think it's also important to remember not to impose our own time lines on stuff. Sometimes they'll come back sooner rather than later, and sometimes, when life slings SERIOUS crap at you, it can take months for the to recover. In either case, we wait. And hope. And pray. (And eat chocolate and take hot showers and connect with other parents who get it and make us smile!)

Unknown said...

I love "Because even if it is not true in my reality, their experience is absolutely true to them." and the follow up of "Finding the privilege in that." Its so true. And I do find myself missing their reality sometimes, but I always recognize how privileged I am to have my lovies. Great post.

Angela :-) said...

Educate me, please. What does agreeing sound/look like? I think that's what I'm missing.

Angela :-)

Wendy said...

We've just been matched with a 5 year old and 7 year old (siblings) in a Lithuanian orphanage and hope to bring them home in 4-6 months. In the meantime, I'm reading obsessively, and this blog is definitely one I've bookmarked and will be back to! Love the balance of humor and practical advice.

the 10th kid said...

Loved this--such a good reminder that we can't change their realities, we can just be there with them as they're in the muck. Thanks!

Unknown said...


They say, "You're UNFAIR!"

You repeat, "I'm unfair!"

"You're a bad mom!"

"I'm a bad mom!"

Whatever. Or you can say, "This is so hard."

Repeating their words lets them know YOU HEAR THEIR WORDS. And what they may actually be feeling is, "I don't feel like I deserve fair things or a good mom!"