“I want you to remember that emotions are not demands to be met or problems to solve. They are just information.”https://livingandtravelingwithkids.com/2020/06/day-229-emotional-switch-again/
Let’s apply the model to an experience I had this week, and look at how I used my own emotions as information – data – rather than being ruled by what my emotion seemed to demand.
My friend and her children were here with us for the week. And they were absolutely lovely. Her oldest son is the age of my sons, and he was respectful, obedient, cheerful, helpful, charming, etc. Such a treat to have in our home. And when, one morning, my boys were, in every way, the opposite of her son, I really felt like I had failed in some way. I was not as good of a mom. I didn’t know how to raise boys.
CIRCUMSTANCE. My friend and her children were here with us for the week. Her son is the age of my son.
THOUGHTS. I am a failure. I am not a good mom. I don’t know how to raise boys.
ACTIONS. I went to bed. And I stayed in bed.
And when I got back out of bed sometime the next day, I was in a better place to re-visit those feelings. And I asked myself what information those feelings were giving me. This is what I came up with:
- My negative emotions are only telling me that I’m not done yet – I have more to learn and more work to do, on myself and with my children.
- My emotions are telling me that I’m tired. And when I am emotionally tired, it is frequently because I am physically tired, too.
I listened to a few podcasts on raising boys. They were full of information, but also full of hope and encouragement and support. I made a new resolve to do some things consistently and regularly, without prompting and without expectations, like telling them that they are loved for who they are, like singing to them before they fell asleep, etc.
With that information I gathered from my original feelings, I was able to look for different thoughts that lead to different feelings, and I took different actions.
I love these boys, with my whole soul.
I want to close by sharing a few stories about my boys, from journals I have kept over the years.
- 5 February 2010 I left the bedroom with all three children on the bed. When I came back into the bedroom 5 minutes later, Jono was on the floor and the other two children were peeking over the edge of the bed at him. I ran over to the baby, “What happened?!!!” Ella responded melodramatically, “Oh, Mom! Jono fell off the bed so bravely!”
- 28 September 2010 Jono licks my face when I brush my teeth.
- 11 July 2010 We thought it was time for Jono to move from the crib to the children’s bed. And we knew this would take a little training. The first night Jono was so excited to be in a new bed that he never tried to get out. The second night was, apparently, not quite as exciting. After getting out of his bed a few times, I scolded him sternly: “We stay in our bed. Stay in bed.” Liam, barely a year older, standing next to Jono and looking up at me with his blue blue eyes, said, “But Mom, him’s just a little guy!”
- 24 March 2012 After sneezing all over me, I pulled back from Liam and said, “You just got BOOGERS all over me!” A little hurt, Liam responded, “Those are just my ‘bless yous’.”
I wrote a letter to one of the boys, I found in an old journal, and these are still my exact sentiments.
When you were born, my heart swelled as wide as eternity! It was as if I had loved you for as long as I could remember. We love you so dearly, my boy. We need you in our family. You will always always belong with us.