Saturday, January 23, 2010

In which I am "The Man"

In yesterday's post, I didn't tell the ending of the Super Metroid meltdown.

Margaret threw herself on the ground, I knelt by her, and McKay paused the game and came over. I offered the breast, but she refused it and finished her meltdown. We really couldn't do much at this point except be near her if she needed us. During this, I turned to McKay and said, "We need to remember that this is a good thing."


I remember once at a playgroup one of the moms mentioned that many times the behaviors and traits that we try to shut down in children are often admired traits in adults. I've thought a lot about that as I have related with Margaret.

First, she wasn't afraid to share her emotions with us. I grew up in a house where emotions were bad. Crying was met with, "Stop crying; it's not that bad," and frustrations were met with, "It's just hormones." We weren't really given any help in how to deal with emotions. I did a lot of bottling. Even good emotions weren't welcome. I was once even reprimanded in front of McKay for acting excited- it apparently demonstrated that I was nervous and not comfortable. As a teenager, school was my place to wear my emotions on my sleeve, but during the walk home, they got bottled up and I would often retreat to my room where I didn't feel as stifled- and then get in trouble for not being "with the family".

I think I mentioned in the comments or post yesterday that I try hard not to shush Margaret when she cries and I don't tell her to stop her tantrums. The only times I've used "Shh shh shh" while she cried was when she was a brand new baby and I thought a rhythmic "Shh" sound would be reminiscent of the placenta and help her calm down. I don't use it anymore because her in utero days are long gone. Because this pregnancy has been very emotional, she's seen me cry a few times. She'll ask me, "Sad?" and I say, "Yes, Mommy's sad. It happens sometimes and it's ok." I want her to know she can express her emotions with me and it's safe and ok.

I've thought about some of the adults I know. How many of us say, "I'm fine," when we really aren't? How many of us are honest with our emotions with the people close to us? Or are we passive aggressive and expect other people to read our minds? So as Margaret has her bad days, I try to remember, "It's good that she trusts us with her emotions. It'll be good for her future relationships that she's honest with the people close to her."

The second point I made to McKay was, "Well, how often do I challenge the 'Man'? It's a good thing that she points out what she feels are injustices and speaks against those. I've done it. The only difference now is that we're the 'Man' in this case."

It's odd to think of myself as the 'Man.' Actually on one level, it's kind of amusing. But I do want her to recognize and question things that are unfair- and at that point, moving her away from the TV was unfair to her, especially because of the language barrier I described yesterday.

So one thing I try to remember in tough situations is that many of the traits that I see as inconvenient to me as a parent, are very good for her to have as a person. As she gets older and our language barrier breaks down, I hope we'll be able to discuss these situations more thoroughly, though I know it'll take many years before that will be very effective. In the meantime, I try to demonstrate that it's ok to have emotions and to speak against injustices and allow her the same freedom.


  1. This is so, so awesome. Not only that you were able to recognize her emotions were good, but that you've come to a place of being able to accept your own emotions.

    DH was raised the same way and still really, really struggles with being honest with himself and others about how he feels. It can be so debilitating and disempowering for him and it affects his ability to handle Zeb's emotions as well.

    I still fall into the trap, as well. Thankfully Zeb is comfortable enough to tell me to knock it off. ;)

  2. Sounds like your parents had too many emotions of their own. Obviously your emotions caused great anxiety and exasperation for them.

    Also wanted to say... Wait until Margaret is 4 or 5 and still crying like a baby. You might tell her to Shush at that point :)

  3. I view meltdowns as a positive thing also. It's a stress release AND a chance to be heard. I wish every parent could see crying and tantrums in a positive light and support their children instead of treating it like it's a bad thing.

  4. I was raised the same way and I'm struggling to not do it to my daughters. Thanks for this post.


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