willI am lucky enough to work for a company that is committed to continuous improvement. They are trying to create an environment of constant learning, evolving, and growing. Today I spent 3+ hours talking about feelings in room of about 150 people. Of course going into a meeting like this there is some apprehension and, if you’re like me, excitement. I realize that I could spend every day of my life in the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment and still never know all there is to know. That is why I get all jacked up before these meetings and try to soak it all up like a sponge. Thru the training you learn how to be a better manager, sure. But, the best part is that I learn to be a better mom and better wife and better ME. It is thru these trainings that I have accepted the fact that I am in control of what shows up in my life. It is thru these trainings that I have accepted that I DO have enough time. It is thru these trainings that I have accepted that every experience is a learning experience.

Anyway, back to feelings…..

My son Will is a basket (case) full of emotions. He cries constantly! (Picture Anchor Man “I’m in a glass case of emotion!!) At least a few times a day he has to take off his adorable glasses and wipe his big brown eyes. I’m telling the truth when I say that one time he literally started crying because the chocolate milk at the restaurant was delicious. Well, after 5 years of this, my husband and I have begun to see this as a ‘problem’. We, in our grown up minds, have labeled “good” reasons to cry (i.e. fell and scraped my knee) and “bad” reasons to cry (i.e. I don’t want chicken for dinner). We have even been asking Will, “Now Will…. is that a good reason to cry?” Part of this correction is because in our minds he needs to learn the difference between something serious and not. Part of it is because we are sick of it. Then, there is a small part of me that worries about what will happen if he is 12 and still cries every time something doesn’t go his way.

Notice the highlighted words: our, we, me. This has nothing to do with me! This is about Will and his feelings. He is sad and therefore he cries. Simple as that. He doesn’t over think it. He doesn’t analyze it. He has a feeling and he feels it. He is not hurting himself or others. He is simply releasing that emotion. Who am I to say what is or isn’t a good reason to be sad? What do I expect him to say, “Well Mom, when Ellie took my toy it made me sad because I feel like ever since she was born she gets everything she wants and I have nothing of my own anymore and I guess that makes me feel vulnerable. Thanks for listening, glad I got that off my chest.” No, he is going to cry.

And the scariest part is, he is probably more enlightened than we are. I have 31 years of ‘society’ telling me what is an acceptable way to show my emotions and what is not. I am a girl so I try really hard not to cry at work because that would make me look ‘weak’. If someone hurts my feelings I pretend that I’m tough and I make a joke because I don’t want to be ‘too sensitive’. But you know what happens? That sadness, hurt, anger, etc. just comes out later and usually in a situation that doesn’t deserve it. We’ve all been there: your boss was a jerk and you go home and yell at your husband. Not Will. He gets in a fight with one of the neighbor boys, he cries for about 25 seconds, and then he’s over it. He gets up and moves on. He can go from tears to tag with smiles in under a minute! He doesn’t over think it. He doesn’t analyze it. He has a feeling and he feels it.

I think as parents we could learn from our kids at least as much as they can learn from us. Why do we take our kids mood/behavior/words/feelings so personally? Is it because we are grown ups and we feel the need to give meaning to everything? When Will is whiny, or he’s having a rough time, it’s not about me! It’s not about him trying to ruin my day (even though it seems like it sometimes). He is not concerned with how his behavior is affecting my ‘vision for the day’. He is simply feeling his feelings. We (parents) are in control of how much this behavior affects us. We can control how we react to their behavior. We have so much influence on our children. Are we teaching them that sadness is bad? That fear is bad? How is this going to affect them as adults?

I’m not sure where to go from here, but just being a little bit more aware of this truth makes me feel better. Somehow, I am less fearful. I think it is still important to teach the lessons but not try to control how those feelings show up for him. Real life example: Will starts crying because he doesn’t want chicken and veggies for dinner. I’ll take his glasses, encourage him to breathe, and let him cry. I will also explain that even though he is sad and even though this is not what he wants for dinner, this IS what we are having because it is healthy and mommy worked very hard at preparing it. He can keep crying if he wants, it is not “bad” and he’s not in “trouble”, but it is also not going to change the outcome of what I am serving for dinner.

And, for myself, I am going to take it easy on judging myself. I won’t label my feelings as weak, or bad, or selfish, etc. I will try not to over think it. I will try not to over analyze it. I will just have a feeling and feel it.