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Parenting: Making Room for Emotions

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LINDLEY PLESS
Lindley Pless

Earlier this week, I picked my daughter up from school and her teacher stopped us as we entered to ask if my little one was in a better mood today. Of course that begged the question, "Was she in a bad mood yesterday?" Her teacher went on to tell me that she hadn't been her usual happy self and wondered if I had noticed anything at home before school that day. I knew her teacher's inquiry had come from a place of love since she adores my child and always makes that abundantly clear to both of us. My answer was that all had seemed fine at home, but she was wistful at drop off and I thought it was just a case of "back to school after spring break at home with mama blues." The conversation wasn't a big deal -- I am always very open and communicative with the girls' teachers and I appreciate that extra feedback. The thing that got me thinking was my overwhelming feeling that we as adults might not be creating space for our children to experience and feel all the very naturally occurring emotions within them. Should we be allowing them to explore all emotions without making them feel judged or pressured if those emotions are anything other than happy and nice? Don't get me wrong -- I am ALL about manners and treating teachers and peers with respect and kindness. BUT sometimes we as people (young and old) just feel funky, and that has to be OK, too.

As previously noted, I am a moody person -- especially in the morning. I feel extreme highs and lows emotionally and there is both good and bad that comes along with having that type of personality. Most (most does not mean ALL) people probably wouldn't notice my ups and downs, and that is because in my 37 years of life, I have developed defense mechanisms. I have learned how to manage my moodiness and how to "check out" when I know I need a break from interaction because I am incapable of being my best self. Being a kid is tough! There is no opting out of school on a day when you just feel anxious or cranky. And how many times have we all asked our children to "smile and say hello politely" when they seem to feel anything but smiley and polite? That is a lot of pressure. And that pressure had me thinking this week.

Someday my moody, fabulous, loving, kind, crazy and compassionate girls will read the things I write about them. I tell them how I feel now, but I also want to write it down so that they know it always. So, my beloved girls, I get how you are feeling. I hear you loud and clear. Life is wonderful but also complicated, chaotic, and overwhelming. Sometimes it can all just make you feel a little "off". And that's OK. The world will love you despite your mood swings. Promise.