Take it all, to do it right
There are some devastating aspects of parenting.
I don't mean on a grand scale, more the small scale devastation.
Like watching your 3 year old clean herself in the shower. She doesn't need you at all for that anymore.
Or, seeing your 7 year old (nearly) flexing in front of the mirror in his underwear and realizing he's starting to see his body as a boy and not as a kid.
Last night Emilio couldn't fall asleep. Matt and I were eating popcorn and watching the season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm and I heard a creak on the stairs. I paused the show and walked in to the hallway.
"I really can't sleep," He said welling up with emotion.
I walked up the stairs and met him, picked him up and carried him in to his room. He's too big for me to hoist him in to bed gently, so I set him down and crawled in to his bed after him.
At the core of his upset was that, "Ava gets two people to sleep with her and I get none."
I do enough reading on parenting to know that telling him he slept in our bed until he was 3.5 would not help. Comparisons don't help, they negate the real feelings the child is having.
But, I was devastated.
This sweet, energetic, loving boy simply wants someone in his bed with him.
And I truly wish I could give him that. But, it doesn't work for all of us.
And that, that is devastating to me.
I lay with him, and listened to his tears. He told me he was having scary thoughts. So I encouraged him to let them out so they wouldn't be in his brain anymore. I comforted him.
There are no monsters.
The people we know and love are healthy and strong.
There are no storms coming.
I am sensitive to painting a picture perfect reality that is false, so I don't. But I also don't want him quite faced with reality as he's trying to fall asleep.
Sometimes, I think, we forget how much our children pick up. How much they take in. How strong they are in the face of the madness of our world right now.
But, just like all of us, as we lay in the dark willing our bodies to fall asleep it creeps up.
I don't want the people I love to die.
There are monsters in this world with way too much control and they scare me.
The world is getting hotter and storms are getting stronger and closer to where we live.
So, as I soothed him. Coaching him to take deep breaths and dream of a bed big enough to fit us all, I calmed down a little too.
I told him I would check on him in 20 minutes. About 30 minutes later I crept in to his room to see him breathing softly, asleep finally, and I relaxed too.
There are devastating aspects of parenting. It takes strength, intelligence, and perspective.
To know that the best way to comfort my son is just letting him cry and not feeding him false realities.
To know that enabling him to be a man who feels and expresses his emotions will set him up to be stronger than most men in this world.
And to recognize that in these moments we are both growing, and evolving and changing together and even though we sleep apart it brings us closer.
Devastation is a part of parenting. We have to take it all to do it right.