My boys and I have been going through some pretty major changes recently with their dad moving out of the house. I’ve been trying my best to keep things as “normal” as possible for them, whatever that means. I’m starting to question what “normal” is for me so I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for their little brains to comprehend. My two-year old doesn’t seem to be too affected by it so far; he’s always been pretty laid back. My five-year old, however, is more sensitive and it takes him a while to adjust to change of any kind. He had a hard time when he started daycare and then again when he started Pre-K. Even at play dates or birthday parties, it usually takes him a little while to warm up and feel comfortable. Outwardly, he seems to be fine with the fact that Dad is moving out. He talks about it, asks questions, and seems to even be excited about having a new place with a cool room for him and his brother. He hasn’t been acting any differently at school, around his friends, or teachers.
The other day after school we were playing outside and all of a sudden he started screaming with laughter. Uncontrollably. Then started crying. Then laughing. He had so much built up emotion inside him; it just burst out. Exploded.
I stood there and watched him as he screamed, cried, laughed, then screamed again. He looked at me, surprised by his own behavior, and asked, “Mom, is this a dream?”
All I said was “No, baby, it’s not.”
And at that moment, I decided to just let him experience the emotions.
When he cried out, I didn’t question what was wrong.
When he laughed, I didn’t ask him what was funny.
When he screamed, I didn’t ask him to be silent.
I let him just be.
And then I hugged him and told him “I love you so much.”
A few nights later, as he was falling asleep, he asked again, “Is this a dream?” Again, I said “No, baby, it’s not.” And again, I held him and said “I love you so much.”
It’s times like these when I question my parenting technique the most. I’ll never know the “right way” to respond. Is there a right way and a wrong way? Is it that black and white? Am I doing what’s best for my boys?
I think about this all the time.
I obsess over it.
For now, I’ve decided to take cues from them, let them lead the way, and respond to their actions. My intention is to allow them to feel and react to the changes affecting them, while letting them know I will always be here. Not by saying those words, but by showing them.
Not by giving them speeches, but by living it.
So, my sweet boy, this is not a dream. This is real life. But, believe me, I understand. It feels pretty surreal to me too. Above all else, this is what you need to know: you and your brother are my favorite people on earth. No one will ever have my heart like you do. Circumstances may change, but my love for you will always be constant. I will always be by your side, letting you scream when you need to, cry if you want to, giving you space, or embracing you tightly. Forever supporting you, constantly reminding you how “I love you so much.”