I want to talk about mistakes I’ve made with my kids and reacting versus responding and how I fixed that – not fixed it, we don’t fix, we’re all growing, right? We just try to do better.
Reacting versus responding in my own experiences, it still happens today, every now and again. But when my kids were smaller, crying would really set me off. Instead of scooping up my babies and asking “are you okay?”, or just being there for them, emotions and reactions in me would bubble over more than I knew how to control. So I would ask things like “what happened”, or “why are you crying?”, or “why did you do that?”. This inevitably put blame on them for getting hurt or for crying when they were just hurt or crying.
One way I’ve worked through that was sitting with those sensations that came up in my body. Seeing where they populated, if the temperature fluctuated throughout my body, and sitting with the thoughts that also came up during these sessions.
The other day, Josie was crying on the couch. Part of me was thinking, I can’t. I can’t take care of her right now. It’s bringing up too much in me. So one major way that I started dealing with that was a new thought process.
I know that I would also feel better with human contact in this state. Even though I don’t really want it. Every time I’ve received it, it makes me feel better. I still have to take a step back and take a deep breath before I react and think, okay, you are familiar with this bodily sensation, you know where it stems from, and you know that it has nothing to do with your daughter. You are her mother. It is your job to take care of her.
And honestly, that’s what I want to do to begin with! I don’t want her to feel like a burden that she’s upset or tired or hurt or whatever. So I took a deep breath and scooped up.
Holding your babies isn’t just good for them. It’s good for you too. It gives you physical contact that everyone needs. We can share mutual calming energy and I calm myself down while also being there for my child. We do it together.
I asked my daughters if they had anything to add to this post. They said they don’t even notice me having to take a pause. Okay, so that’s really good, right? That’s nice. So there you go. They won’t even notice, or when it comes down to it…it’s appreciated, that you’re taking a pause and have to take a split second to regroup.
From the mouths of Babes, see how big of a difference that makes to just take a breath and get yourself where you need to be before helping others. What’s the saying? Put your oxygen mask on before helping others? It’s the same situation here and I know us as moms hardly ever actually do that. But it’s necessary.
It is. And I found out the hard way. Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath, and notice those reactions in your body when you start getting triggered by your kids.
Notice and sit with them. Let your husband take care of the kids for a minute. It’s okay to let them cry for an extra second or two to figure your shit out so that you’re not making stuff worse, right?
But once you regroup, set aside some time to come back to those sensations, come back and be like, okay, how old are these? Where is this coming from? Is this really stemmed from my kids or is this attached to something else?
Sit with those emotions and feel where they are in your body. Write down the texture, draw out what that sensation looks like if you could see it, if you could touch it. Take a little bit of a break and start recognizing when and where and what kind of actions or sounds or feelings or emotions trigger something in you and how you can pause in order to respond versus react. Just that little pause will have your kids not even realizing that you had a reaction in your own body and you can just respond to them with love.