Friends, today has been a DAY. It is barely lunchtime and it has been a daaaaaaayyyyyyy.
We spent the last four days traveling and reuniting with old friends, swimming in the hot sun and laughing until our bellies hurt.
And today, my husband went back to work and my kids LOST. IT. I’m talking full-on, from the moment they woke up, threat level midnight disaster attitudes with a side of professionally hating each other.
Fix it, Jesus.
Calm yourself, Karen. In no way am I saying that this world doesn’t have some spectacular dads because we do. My husband is a freaking rock star daddy to our kids, but they still seem to save their most epic meltdowns for their mama.
What happens? What in their brain is triggered to let them know, “Oh, now that I’m with Mom, it’s time to let it all fly!!!?”
1. You are Their Safe Space
For many kiddos, the world outside of their homes is a hard place. Maybe they are bullied or they dislike school. They might have trouble making friends or feel like they can’t really be themselves.
Even for kids who seem like they are popular or happy, being a kid is tough work. They are having to learn so much from school to figuring out who they are and who they might want to be…and none of that even considers the pressure from media, peers, and adults.
Their moms, for many, are the one place that they know no matter what they say or how they act, we will be a soft space for them to fall; strong arms to hold, comfort, and protect them. We are their words of encouragement and their cheering section. We are the ears that listen to problems, no matter how trivial.
So, much like we are more likely to snap at our spouse or our closest friend after a long and frustrating day at work, we moms are the most likely candidate for that explosion from our kids at home.
While it can feel like an attack, it is helpful to consider it a compliment because the more we continue to be their constant with the seemingly small, the more likely they will be to come to us with the big stuff as they grow into adults and those pressures and problems become more life-altering.
2. You’ve Taught Them Well
Let’s think about what an average kid goes through in a typical day: They are made to wake up before they’d like to get ready and go to school to (for most) sit for long periods of time and be made to complete work. They get a short break for lunch and many don’t even get recess or break time. Then they take a long bus ride home where they are made to do more work they didn’t finish while at school, eat a dinner they probably didn’t choose for themselves, maybe complete a chore or two, and then get cleaned up and go to bed, many before they’d have chosen for themselves.
Not that we don’t want them to be prepared for the fact that ‘life isn’t fair’ but lay off them, Karen. Being a kid is no joke. They are doing all of this while figuring out socialization, balancing peer relationships, and attempting to navigate hormones. It’s a crazy time.
So if our kids, especially those with additional challenges like special needs or social or learning struggles, have held it together since they were forced awake with the sun, it can be expected that they might lose their grip on things by supper. And that’s okay, mama.
You’ve trained them well.
They kept it together getting ready in the morning, despite some eye rolls and unnecessary sass.
They moved themselves through school without disciplinary action.
They functioned through extracurriculars and powered through the mundane of homework time.
So after dinner and by bath time, They. Are. Spent. (And usually, so are we.)
They’ve held in conflicting emotions, feelings, and frustration and they’re ready to fight. Sorry, mama.
But, find comfort in the fact that they’ve done well today. If we had a day where we woke up late, spilled our coffee, or had a bad meeting, it wouldn’t be crazy to think something small might set us off.
They are human too.
You’ve taught them when and where is appropriate to let those feelings out so don’t be surprised when they do.
3. You are Their Yes-Man
Okay. Are you sitting down?
Karens, prep your sassitude for warfare because you’re about to get defensive. It’s cool. I’m used to it.
But, y’all, I speak the truth and this message is also for me.
As mamas, we tend to be the rescuer. Natural nurturers when the world (or a teacher, a family member, or even our own spouse) is what we feel qualifies as “too hard” on our littles. What do we do?
I, my friend, am a natural-born swooper.
We swoop in and pick them up. We dry tears and shush them as we pet their hair and tell them everything is going to be okay.
Go ahead and check yourself, Karen, because I’m not saying mamas aren’t allowed or even supposed to protect our babies. Y’all I FIERCELY go to battle for both of my kids, and most especially our extreme child, daily–against schools and strangers, judgy family members and innocent onlookers, and I won’t be stopped.
But that’s not what I’m addressing here.
I am talking about the fact that sometimes we take on too much for our kids. They need to feel disappointment, heartbreak, and failure.
Within reason, a coach that yells at them or a teacher who is critical isn’t going to end them. A parent who loses their cool or a friend who doesn’t invite them to a party won’t crush their spirit forever.
Is it hard? Yes.
Does it make that instinctive mama bear inside us want to pounce from hibernation and maul someone? Of course!
But when we constantly come to our kids’ rescue, this will become their norm and they will expect it on into adulthood. Instead, we must begin to equip them to handle heartbreak, navigate difficult conversations, and dissipate disappointment. Those are life skills and our children need them desperately.
If we don’t instill these with consistency while they are young, our kiddos will grow thinking they can come home and have a tantrum and we will spread our wings and begin the dance of the swoop again.
Friends. Moms are some kind of freak show superheroes who wipe noses, battle disease, and fend off predators, all while making macaroni. It is wild out there and we must be on constant guard. I get it. I’m in the trenches with you.
We need to show our children that we are their safe space, that they can hold it together all day and lose it at home and we will still be there to catch them; but we won’t save them from the world because we are not here to be their rescuer but their teacher. They need to learn those skills for their futures.
Will we always get it right? No, ma’am.
But our kids need to see that perfect parents are things of Pinterest and not of real life. They need to know that losing it is normal and they will make it through, just like we do.
Mamas, you are rock stars and I’m your biggest fan. Keep nailing it!