Sometimes one kid or another comes home after school and unloads.
‘The kids at school all hate me!’
‘I bet I won’t play in the game on Saturday…the coach ignored me the whole practice!’
‘I want to go to a new school!’
‘It’s too hard.’
‘Sometimes I feel like I’m invisible.’
‘I’m done. Just DONE!!!’
And immediately my brain explodes with panic and worry and fear.
Oh, dear God! Everybody hates him? Invisible?? Doesn’t he have any friends? WHAT did that coach say to him?
Maybe we should send him to a new school! Maybe I should set up a play date! Maybe I should call that coach and give him a piece of my mind!!
Wait…maybe it was my kid? What did he saaaay? What did he dooooo? Is he ever going to figure out this LIFE??
Dear God, will he be HAPPY????
And before I know it, I launch into a lecture.
Or say exactly the wrong thing.
I argue. I disagree. I give advice. I try to convince my kid otherwise.
But then sometimes, I stop myself. And I just…remember.
I remember what it felt like to be a kid.
Or a tween.
Or a teenager.
I remember walking into the cafeteria and wondering where in the world I was going to sit.
I remember feeling awkward and chubby and greasy and uncool and just…wrong.
I remember being left out.
I remember the incredible pressure to get good grades and make the team and be ‘popular.’
I remember wanting to dig a giant hole in the ground and crawl inside so I could hide myself away…unseen.
And I remember feeling quite alone through it all.
I was so lonely.
And it seemed like EVERYONE else knew what they were doing.
It seemed like all the teachers and parents and grown-ups really needed me to be happy.
It seemed better if I got good grades and made the team and acted ‘popular.’
It seemed best for everyone if I just…pretended.
But I don’t want that for my children.
I don’t want them to live a pretend life.
I don’t want them to feel so alone.
So, whenever my brain begins to explode while one of my kids unloads absolutely EVERYTHING wrong in his life, I try to quell all the panic and worry and fear in my voice and in my eyes.
And I stay quiet.
I repeat back all the problems swirling in my child’s brain and spilling from his mouth.
I offer a few supportive words.
I tell him I love him.
I tell him I’m proud.
And I try…
I try to be the one place in the whole world where my child doesn’t ever have to pretend.
I try to be the safe, loving place he can softly sink into and feel seen.
I try to be the person he can always, always come to…
And just be himself.
*via Ordinary on Purpose, by Mikala Albertson