I burst into the bedroom my children share. One of my children is crying loudly. My other children are sitting in their beds wide eyed.
It has been an emotional day and a long night and it is late and I lose it. In a harsh tone I demand that my wailing child get out of bed and come with me. I am beyond frustrated by my children’s drawn out conflict and the noise level that has prevented my youngest child from falling asleep. In a loud voice I tell my crying child to sit quietly on the couch or to go cry downstairs. My voice raises further as I express my frustration over how the wails and their conflict have kept their baby sister awake.
I muster up an ounce of emotional energy, take a deep breath and more calmly say that I will be back in a minute to talk. My child sobs about being tired and wanting to get back in bed, then collapses onto the couch. I leave to go settle my youngest.
I breath. I text my husband. I reset. My youngest falls asleep and I return to the couch. The sobs have subsided. I see a little body lying down, eyes closed, blanket pulled up, chest high. I sit down on the couch, touch my child’s hair. In a whisper I ask, “Are you awake?” I see a nod and a shift from laying to sitting.
I apologize profusely for my harsh words, my frustration, my outburst. I apologize for being unfair. I offer assurance that I am not mad and that my outburst was not my children’s fault.
“I was just wondering why you got so mad that I was crying. That didn’t make sense.”
“You are right. That doesn’t really make sense. I was not mad at you for being sad. It is ok to be sad. Everybody is sad sometimes. I freaked out because I am tired and because I had been feeling emotional all day and was out of emotional energy. I am so sorry I spoke so harshly to you. My outburst was more about me than about you.”
“What had you been feeling sad about?”
And I decide to tell this little person about the emotions I had been experiencing all day. I share about my grief, my frustrations, my overwhelm. I speak of loss and death, old seasons coming to a close and the responsibilities of this new season.
This kid, that I gave birth to not that many years ago, listens quietly, notices my voice catch when I mention the loss of a loved one and looks at my face. When my tears fall, this little person sitting on the couch with me listening attentively, turns and touches my arm.
These are not burdens I would normally share with my children’s young hearts but this time something compels me to share my heart and my tears are honored with a gaze, presence and touch.
We talk for a few more minutes. I say how sorry I am for the hurt caused by siblings tonight. I say I have felt that kind of hurt before and it sucks. I watch my child nod and listen to my child share more about their day, the hurt, and the tears.
I say, “I am so proud of you and I love you so much. My child turns further and wraps me in a hug. I hear in a whisper, “I am so sorry you felt so sad today.”
I say thank you, hug this amazing kid tighter, whisper goodnight.
I lay down on the arm chair in our living room. I acknowledge I must forgive myself for my harsh words. I give thanks for my children, my family and the healing balm of connection.