There has been times when both of my daughter’s have seen me when I have been most vulnerable in my feelings and emotion’s. Most people think that when you become a parent that you stop being a person with feelings, that showing your vulnerability in front of your children is being weak and that they will take advantage of you as a parent. I have seen plenty of women cry in front of their children and all for different reasons: relationship issues, work issues, every day problems, even when the kids have decided to misbehave and be defiant.
My girls have seen me when I have been sad from heartache and loss or simply overwhelmed when things have just become too much. True, I am no different when it comes to showing them that just because I am their mum, that things don’t affect me when they do. But I realised, that even though I showed them how I felt, that I also had to show them that it’s ok to be strong and overcome what made me feel that way, that I wasn’t less of a person or parent because I showed my emotion’s and as long as it didn’t affect me being a parent that they needed me to be.
Most people try and suppress their children’s feelings and emotions and dismiss it to harden them up, toughening them up to be in the real world. But what does that really teach them? That we, their parents aren’t going to listen to them when it really matters or that no one cares and that they are required to bottle it up, because they feel no one would understand them, that no one can help them? In saying that though, I do think it is up to the parent to deem what is and isn’t acceptable, everyone is different.
Maybe we wouldn’t have as many issues of showing how we feel or mental health issues, if we showed more understanding and sensitivity to other people’s feelings. If people weren’t biased and telling others they are weak and that they should feel bad for how they feel. Everyone deserves to have someone to talk to and have comfort and I have always believed that having feelings and emotions is what makes us be human and alive, regardless of gender and opinions.
When my youngest was born, my grandmother had passed away the week before, I was utterly devastated. I was close to my nana, she was so proud and excited to meet my new baby. When she passed and my daughter was born, I was really struggling with the loss that my beloved grandmother, was never ever going to meet my new beloved baby. When 6 months had passed, I looked at my ever growing and changing baby and how sad I was my nana wasn’t there to be apart of that, the reality had sunk in that my grandmother was really gone.
A few years ago, my eldest daughter Taylah, was asked to draw a picture of me. She drew a purple stick figure with long hair and sad blue face. Everyone else she drew was happy. I asked her why didn’t she draw me that way and she said to me, ‘because your alway’s sad mummy.’ I hugged her and I told her I was sorry I was always sad, but I would try and make things better. I didn’t realise that every time she saw me, I was always consumed in my sadness and a lot of that at the time had to do with my depression and I didn’t realise it had affected her, my time with her and how she now saw me. I took a step back and realised that not only had it affected my daughter, but it was affecting everything around me. My negative feelings being toxic and damaging.
I sought help, I got down to the problem and found it was being around negativity that was taking away my happiness. I took some of the advice and let a lot of the negativity go, but at the end of the day, only I was in control of what I let get to me. So I started to make the changes for my own frame and peace of mind.
I realised that there are perfectly acceptable times to show my children vulnerability. But the one thing I will never do is tell my children my problems, as they are too young to understand. They don’t need to know my adult problems as they are my children, not my friends or confidants. It’s not up to my children to fix my problems or be a shoulder to cry on. I appreciate my eldest daughter when she sees I am upset and will give me a hug to make me feel better and when she askes ‘what is wrong?’ I just tell her ‘I’m a little upset right now, but I will be ok.’ I will then send her to do her own thing, so I can have my cry and then move on with my day. But I will always stand by a parent should never confide their problems in their children.
I think showing vulnerability and confiding in children two very different things.