Trusting My Kids
So potty training has been mostly successful. More than 50%. I’ll take it.
It has also introduced or reintroduced some anxieties in my kids. Anxieties that I won’t share because that part of the story is theirs, not mine, and they don’t need a digital record of such things. This part of the story is mine: their anxieties produce anxiety in me.
I have all kinds of anxiety for my kids. Worry about how they will fit in with each other, whether one will consistently feel left out. Worry about their social development: will they be able to make friends? Worry about others mistreating them someday. Worry about their fears, or more specifically, if I will mess up helping them approach their fears and thus make them worse. That I will somehow contribute inadvertently to the problem, when my goal is to heal and guide.
Tonight I was worried about one kids’ anxiety, and unsure of how to talk to that kid about it. Wandering in the parental dark. I made Alan take over and sat on the stairs in a vaguely meditative position, closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing.
Audrey sat next to me. She tried talking with me, and I told her that I was confused and trying to think things through, and that she could sit with me if she wanted but that I needed quiet space.
She did this to me:
Tucked the blanket neatly around my legs, making sure my arms were covered. Draping the other blanket over my head like a shawl. Later she brought me a toy airplane and placed it in my lap. Comforting me. Taking care of me.
Reminding me that sometimes what they need is not help or guidance but someone to sit with.
I used to worry when they skipped meals. Now I know that they won’t demand food 20 minutes after a meal; they are legitimately not hungry and will just eat when they’re ready.
I used to worry about them at the playground. I still have the occasional heart-in-mouth moments, but largely I can trust them to negotiate risks and challenge their comfort zones as they are ready.
So often I have gnawed over perceived problems, grinding my teeth against the lack of control (which everything always comes back to, right?). So often my anxiety has done nothing to solve a situation.
Obviously, sometimes they need guidance: like how to say, “I need space” instead of biting their sibling. Mostly though, I try to remember to trust my kids to know themselves, to figure out their own journey and arrive at the right place at the right time.