Lessons in Being a Pillow

Some parts of parenting come to us naturally. For me those parts were a joy of snack and maintaining a regular napping schedule. Food and sleep are two things I can naturally get behind and support. Other things (pretty much every other thing) have come with a learning curve. Sometimes it is more along the lines of a learning punch in the gut.

My five year old is an emotional creature. I keep thinking maybe next ¬†year she will ‘grow out of it’ but I’ve come to accept that she may always be much like a pinball in regards to emotional highs, lows, tears, and exuberant laughter. That’s only covering five minutes of her normal day.

I will be the first to admit that my natural instinct when someone comes at me with an emotional charge is to be like a brick wall. When something is hurled at a brick wall TYPICALLY one of two things happen. The item bounces back, often times with¬†surprising momentum – anger for anger, tears for tears, and excitement for even more excitement. I kind of tend to match and bounce back what is given. For some this is a good thing. They like the feed back, the like the ability to reflect on their actions as a result of mine. This is to true for Karrigan. It sends her reeling. The other thing that can happen when something is thrown at a brick wall is that the object hits it and shatters, breaks, collapses. I think of this as those moments where two minutes of whining all the sudden become a complete and total sobbing melt down and where neither my child or I walk away feeling like things went well. The wall. That’s what I am naturally.

It has become increasingly apparent that is not what my child needs. What my oldest needs (the other two are yet to be determined) is a pillow.

Man how I wish I meant that in a physical sense. Dairy Queen here I come! Just making sacrifices for the kids and trying to be more pillow-like.

No, what I meant is my child needs an emotional pillow. She needs a mom she can yell at and who gives back a whisper. Have you ever yelled into a pillow? That’s essentially the same affect.

She needs a mother who absorbs her tears, and doesn’t do much more than that. She doesn’t want or need to me fix things. She doesn’t need me to explain her feelings. She just needs a mom who wipes her cheeks and absorbs the tears because that makes them go away faster.

She needs a mom who offers a cuddle when she is frustrated and who doesn’t press and pry for a story to fit with every feeling she has. Sometimes my daughter needs me to just –be.

Quiet. Still. Soft.

Those words don’t describe me naturally but you know what will make those words fit me? Love.

Love for my daughter. The desire to be what she needs, even when my original mold wasn’t created that way. It’s not easy. I raise my voice in response to hers. I tell her to “toughen up” more than is logical. I exclaim “Why are you crying AGAIN?” at least twice a day. Still as parents we strive and we try and lately when I’ve been at my wits end I’ve been taking a look at my pillow and thinking…What would you do big fluffy? Then I try to do that.

The funny thing is …it works.

Oh and being a physical pillow as mentioned before? I’ll always be that, any time her little head needs a place to rest. That’s the best kind of pillow to be.

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Karrigan using Baby Sinclaire as a pillow before her arrival a few years ago!
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#42 Don’t Be Afraid To Get Excited

One thing that I find positively infectious about young children is their ability to get excited over everything. When you think about it, it makes sense. Every experience is fresh and new. Most kids (sadly, not all) haven’t experienced much disappointment or let down yet from life. Life IS exciting.

As an adult I come across less and less excitement from those around me. Everything has to be shaded with areas of doubt, fears of let down, or boredom with the “same old-same old”. This fact really bothers me. Why shouldn’t adults be able to get as excited about an ice cream sundae as a five year old? Because they fear that it will land squarely on their hips and then they might be a size seven instead of a six?

I suppose adults do too much analyzing. I’m asking you not too. I’m asking you to let yourself get excited over going to the circus–both as a child and as an adult with your own children. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and show your excitement over landing a new job, not burning dinner, and not driving on the grass as you back out of your driveway. Don’t worry about so many things that you can’t ever get excited. Don’t worry that people may stare at you because you have a grin the size of the Grand Canyon on your face. If anything you might brighten someone’s day.

Right now you get excited over the best stuff. You get excited when the dogs lick your face, when you walk on your own, and when you successfully paint the wall by throwing your dinner against it. You aren’t afraid to laugh and shout or clap your hands. You ARE the definition of excited. Please stay that way.