I have three children. Annika, who is seven, Alyseah, who is five in October, and Henrik who will be two next week. Every day my children are learning something. How to read, how to cross the road, how to cook, why the sky is blue, how cars move, why this, why that. They are sponges. Constantly learning and figuring out the world around them. In a really weird way I am where they are. At least in one very important aspect.
Emotions. Learning how to deal with them. Disappointment, anger, and sadness especially are difficult for children. And me. Basically my whole life up until I started to deal with my past I was on an auto-pilot. I hadn’t learnt how to deal with emotions. Actually to be honest I still don’t really know how to deal with them.
So when my oldest started to show her emotions in way’s I didn’t understand, I truly thought there was something wrong with her. Was it normal to fall to the ground and cry because I wouldn’t give her another cookie? Was it normal to scream at me when she got sent to her room? Why did she cry when I told her no? Why as she got older did her emotions get bigger and harder to understand? The answer to most of these questions is, yes, she is perfectly normal. Crying because mommy says no you can’t have ice cream as a bed time snack is a perfectly normal reaction for a four year old. And as a seven year old it is normal to be so mad that the only thing you can think to do is yell and bang around in your room because you got sent there after teasing your sister for the four hundredth time that day. Everything my child was doing was normal. But I didn’t know that because when I was seven, I was not a normal seven year old.
When I was seven I was in survival mode. I was protecting myself the best little Sam knew how. I kept emotions safe in side. I kept my secret and did as I was told. As far as I understood people could die if I didn’t do what I was told. So I did. I kept my mouth shut for so long that I grew up into an adult who didn’t know how to deal with emotions when they came up. This is something I will be learning for a long time. And it is unbelievably difficult. However, the nice thing is as I am learning I get to teach my children. As I learn a new tool to help me when I feel angry I get to teach my children it too. I wish I knew these tools before I became a mom but at least I am learning them now when my children are still young.
Every parent has to learn everyday too, its not just me. We all have to figure it out, we all have to make mistakes. We all have to try again each day to do better than the day before. We have to apologize to our kids for our mistakes and teach them that emotions are good, we just have to learn how to express them. Our children look up to us, which is hard in my case as I am still learning and don’t always want them to look to me when I make mistakes.
So my advise. Keep learning. Keep trying. Just keep swimming. Oh wait, that is someone else’s advise. Keep apologizing. Keep getting better. I have been in the dark, the scary, the impossible, but as cliche as it sounds the light at the end of the tunnel, it is getting brighter. The pain starts to become dulled, or starts to actually go away. Being able to feel both happiness and sadness gets easier too. Truly feeling again, or for the first time, happens. Its scary too, but also amazing. Its a learning curve.