This week has been b-u-s-y for my family. Come November, everything feels like its starting to move at a million miles per hour with little to no breaks in between social events, school events, and holidays–which makes doing our regular, every day tasks a bit more difficult.
My oldest daughter, Genevieve, was struggling to clean up the playroom with her sisters. She started off strong, tidying up the blocks and toy cars without having to be told to do so. I was right next to her picking up princess costumes and tiny plastic heels when suddenly (from my perspective), she folded her knees up to her chest, put her head down and started to cry.
“Baby, are you okay? What’s going on?”
Genevieve answered with a shrug of her shoulders, her crying uninterrupted and her head still resting on her knees.
If I’m being honest, I felt frustrated. We had just gotten back from her classmate’s birthday party and the day before that we had a fun family day. It was time to clean up the toys, and I was right here helping her. Why was she crying about this?
But instead of saying all of that out loud, or showing it with my body language or tone/inflection, I took a deep breath. I remembered what it felt like be six-years-old, sitting in a cluttered room, overwhelmed by the task in front of me.
“Would you like a hug? Can I hug you?
She looked up at me and threw herself into my lap at the same time, her little arms clasped around my neck tightly as her sobs got louder.
I gently rubbed her back and squeezed her. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but she wouldn’t have been able to talk to me if I had asked her anyways. I didn’t know what to say or do, but I found myself quietly repeating:
“I’ve got you. I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”
After about a minute, her little breaths started to slow down and her arms relaxed. I kept rubbing her back and whispering. I knew what I was doing was working, but when do I stop? She’s my oldest–I’ve never had a six, nearly seven, year-old going through big feelings before her. When do I let go?
And that’s when it hit me — I don’t. I don’t let go first. I don’t want her to interpret my readiness to move past this moment as me dismissing her feelings or setting a time limit on her emotions. I don’t want me physically letting her go to be interpreted as “that’s enough of that, time to move on.”
But I also don’t want her to sit here, hugging me, also unsure of when to let go of me and/or her feelings in this moment.
So instead, I said, “I’m not letting go until you do, okay?”
“Okay, Mom.” She buried her face into my neck for a brief second, then let go.
She wiped her tears, smiled at me, then tucked her hair behind her ears and resumed picking up the toys.
“Do you wanna talk about it?”
“No thanks, Mom. I’m okay. I feel a lot better now.”
I had no idea any of that would work. I didn’t know that moment was about to happen. But I am so thankful it did.
So, the next time your kiddo is deep in their feelings, perhaps offer a hug. A really long, really firm one. And tell them, “I’ve got you. I’m not letting go until you do, okay?”
Let me know how it goes ♥