My kid: Ma, you know when you tell dad you’re tired and low and he diligently suggests a million solutions for your torments, which not only makes you feel more upset but it also incites you to start a spiralling argument with him which inevitably ends in you hating yourself, him, me and the entire world around you a little bit more than ever before?
Me: Errrr, yeah. (Is this kid a freakin’ psychic now?)
My kid: Now you know how I feel.
My son has taught me this. In the very beginning I would do anything to stop his crying. It was instinctual. But as he grows and his needs are perhaps less primal (though not necessarily less intense), I’ve noticed that acknowledging his emotions (particularly those that make ME feel uncomfortable) has the very effect I once so desperately sought after during my early days as a mum.
When I accept my son being torn, frustrated, angry, sad…when I don’t distract him with toys and the little birds flying past…when I’m able to put MY own traumas on one side and be present with him in the darkness, there is a connection, there is healing, there is love. And then soon after, the magic happens…he moves on. Optimistically. And life, quite simply, goes on.