Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 31: Open Lines

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

Jackson was tooling around on his tricycle this morning (Yes, in the house. It's winter. The poor kid needs an outlet!) and cut it a little too close with my foot. I yelped, "Ouch! Jackson that hurt. Please watch where you're going!" He got off, walked up to me with a very thoughtful look and, wrapping his arms around my legs, said, "Mommy, I felt sad when you said that."

So we explored the situation and found out that he was sad about the way I said it because he thought I was angry with him. I was able to explain the difference between "angry loud" and "surprised loud" and give him the big hug he needed. If he hadn't been this open, I'd have never known he was sad. If he hadn't come up to me for a hug, I wouldn't have known he needed one.

These spontaneous pronouncements about his feelings happen throughout the course of each day, and today I was really struck with what a gift it is for our relationship, a skill I hope to help him retain as he matures.

In my experience, open lines of communication are rare, even (or especially?) in family relationships. There's a level of vulnerability that comes along with openness, something most of us avoid. We are a society of people who hate to ask for help, hate to admit even minor shortcomings, and hate to acknowledge hurts because all of these things signify weakness. In avoiding this perceived weakness, we actually miss out on all of the things that could make us stronger, namely living in connection with each other.
Children are beautifully immune to this. They haven't yet soaked up the "lone wolf" mentality; they simply communicate openly and seek out what (or who) meets their needs. They aren't afraid to ask for help or show how they feel because they don't know anything other than vulnerability. They live in their bodies and their feelings instead of their heads like we do, and this gives them freedom that we too often sacrifice for the sake of looking strong.

Sometimes I think we don't realize what we're sacrificing. Not only do we miss deep connection with other people, we miss deep connection with ourselves. We lose ourselves behind our own walls, the facade we've constructed to hide all the things that aren't "good enough" or "right," to the point that we don't even know how we feel or what we need anymore. And when we lose touch with ourselves, we lose our ability to be "in touch" with the people we love. When we walk through life with our needs chronically unmet, either because they're unidentified or unspoken, we are that much less able to meet the needs of those around us. And so the solo cycle continues.

So today, I'm taking a lesson from Jackson. I'm going to work toward openly communicating how I feel, unabashedly asking for what I need, and freely admitting when I can't do it all myself. If I want him to hang on to this skill, I better start modeling how to use it in the adult world!

No comments:

Post a Comment