Something to Cry About

L​ilith lost her favorite stuffy, Snuggles, yesterday. 

W​e went to the beach and she wanted to take her. I should have said no or made her put Snuggles in the boot of the bike at least, but she wanted to hold her. Somewhere along the way, Lilith dropped her. As soon as we noticed, I should have turned around and looked for her, but we convinced ourselves that maybe Lilith forgot her at home after all. At 10pm, the mourning began. 

N​ow, it may seem silly to call it mourning. It may seem trivial to get so worked up over a stuffed deer. When most of us were kids, this kind of emotional response would not have been tolerated. This is a perfect scenario where the famous “I’ll give you something to cry about” would have been executed. But, even if this isn’t the kind of parent you are, lets look at Why? Why are we so repulsed by our childrens strong emotions? Why do we “Shhhh”, “It’s ok.” “Everything’s fine.”? There may be more than one answer to this question, but I do have one to offer. 

F​lash back to the worst night of my life. Let’s go there. Why not?

I​t was about 3 months after Bart died, several days before Liliths 4th birthday. We were housesitting a friends house, lying in bed, winding down for sleep when it hit her. HARD. Daddy wouldn’t be at her birthday party. Not only that, but Daddy didn’t even know she was turning 4. Once that idea hit her, she coudn’t stop chanting it, screaming it even, “Daddy doesn’t even know!” Her precious little reality had been so held and reinforced by the solid structures of ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ that she didn’t know how to accept significance outside of us. Her reality was created by being witnessed (as it is for adults as well on a different level, but we’ll get into that some other time) Holding space for this loss of innocence for my barely not-quite-almost 4 year old was the most painful thing I have ever done. Holding my own grief was one thing, holding hers was too much. All I wanted to do was to make it go away. All I wanted to do was to tell her it was going to be ok, that I would make it better. But I couldn’t. And I didn’t. It was absolutely NOT ok, and I wouldn’t lie to her. The worst thing had happened, and as scared as I was of her tears, I would let her cry. I would hold her and say nothing. I could not make it better. Time would and she could, but not if I suppressed her grief to save myself. 

After she cried herself to sleep, I got out of bed and rolled on the floor in the deepest grief I have ever felt. I ugly cried and punched pillowed and wished to God that I wasn’t alone. In the stillness that followed that chaos, I felt the deepest compassion for parents all over the world who “shh” their kids. I understood why parents avoid difficult conversations and offer their children something else to cry about, something tangable and distracting, something easy to understand and ‘get over’. Holy shit did it hurt, but the reward on the other side of the pain has been compassion for myself in those moments like last night where I just wanted it to stop so I didn’t have to suffer with her pain (which is always harder to hold than my own). It HURT, but the gem from my own suffering is having a 5 year old child with the emotional intellengence to tell me with her remarkable words last night that she was angry with herself so we could work through that together. I get it. It’s hard this parenting stuff. However, if we can get over our own fear of our childrens big feelings, if we can allow them to know themselves, and have the bravery to work through the messy stuff with them, when they’re older and life gets messy (as it does), they will have the skills to manuveur the mess with grace and ease. What could be more rewarding?

Food for thought.  

11 thoughts on “Something to Cry About”

  1. Lacye!!! Your writing is gorgeous, brave, and hits all the deep emotions in me. Thank you for writing about all the important things. Death. Parenting. Grief. Life. You are amazing.

  2. Lovely to hear this reality. Being a father myself I understand this part of parenting. It is tough and gut wrenching at times. The little things matter. So do the real big ones. Finding the truth in between is a skill that is aquired by reality and patience. Thanks for sharing your truths.

  3. Your writing and brave sharing is an inspiration to all- but most off all to Lilith (and yourself). Keep sharing. Keep writing. You are an authentic voice that needs to be heard.

  4. I love reading your blogs and I find them inspiring. This one got to me in particular as I sat here crying, thinking of my sister on her birthday today. Her daughter was only 6 when she died so this really put me in her perspective and it still breaks my heart 2 years later. Thank you for this. My 2 year old has big emotions a lot. Just today I shushed him. I held him while he cried and I realized the shushing was more of a comfort to me. And I thought about how he should always be free to cry and feel safe to express him big emotions. Much love to you and your precious little girl 🙏🏻💕

    1. Hey Shianne! I’m really honored you read my blog and let it mean something to you! I’m so sorry about your sister. 2 years is no time at all after losing someone so close. Sending my Love to you and your niece and your little one. Life can be hard, I’m glad they have you.

  5. Ugh. I feel like I suck as a mom dealing with the big feelings. My oldest is sooooo emotional and dramatic, and I’m just….well, not. My youngest is much more like me; less likely to take things personally, more likely to get over it pretty quickly, more likely to not notice if someone else is offended. The drama of my now nine year old has been going on since she was born (I kid you not) and it makes her incredibly charismatic and wonderful, but the personal slights that I have trouble understanding are sometimes more than I can handle. I find myself eye-rolling and telling her to calm down and breathe, because seriously? You dropped a piece of fruit. It’s not even ruined! Just pick it up and rinse it off! My god, child, you didn’t loose a limb!!!!!……………yeah, you can see what I’m getting at. I practice at patience, but I’ve got a lot more work to do, obviously.

    This blog will serve as a reminder that being a better parent means being more uncomfortable at times. 💗💗💗

    1. Oh God.. parenting needs to be MORE uncomfortable?!?! 🙂 I feel you on the opposite spectrum. Lilith is more like you, and I’m more emotional and dramatic. I try to give her all the things I wished I had as a kid, but she’s not me and doesn’t need the same things. (le sigh) Back to the drawing board. (face palm)

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