Kids first word! The best right! We all wait for this moment. Some longer than others but the waiting is done. The first word anticipated and then shared on all social media sites for all to know. It’s a milestone to be remembered and celebrated.
The Mitchell kids started to talk and haven’t stopped. They have this amazing gift of articulation. From a very early age they have been able to describe in great detail how they are feeling and why they feel like that. Even our 3-year-old can tell me when his heart hurts, when he feels angry or sad and all the emotions in between. We are so thankful for this, a counsellors dream I am aware of that but it can also be a such a pain especially when those feelings expose our weaknesses as parents.
Which this week it did……..
This week was a particularly busy week for us. A family crisis, a few extra things in the diary. We knew our kids would feel the sting of it. We tried to protect them and give all that we had but there wasn’t much left. We knew we were fobbing them off.
Then I got. The note.
It was handed to me with a vulnerable shaky hand because she felt she tried to talk and it didn’t work. We weren’t hearing her and she needed us to hear her. So brave. I opened with fear and trembling. I knew this wasn’t I love you note.
And there it was, my fears and darn it – ‘I thought I had this sorted’ moment. Our 9-year-old saw my weaknesses and my failures and called them out. Not to wound or to damage but to fix. She needed us to be present and she understood why we couldn’t be but that no longer mattered. Jessie loved our relationship more than that so braved what many of us wouldn’t and fought harder.
As I read the note, I realised a had a few choices. All of them came at once, and they all involved how can I get out of this? None of these choices involved the truth of what I had to do. The ugliest one I thought about was explaining to her and making her see why I was doing all these things. That but….but…..but….moments. Avoiding the painful truth that I was wrong. My daughter didn’t need me to avoid this, she needed me as a parent to take responsibility.
And so I did. In my weakness He is powerful. I felt very weak at that moment.
So I took the note and one by one I went through the list and apologised, I asked for her forgiveness and I gave her a chance to talk, really talk. I listened probably for the first time this week to her. It was not easy. Suddenly I understood the bad behaviour, the tantrums, the fights. I had let her down and there was no excuses left.
No matter when this happen in our lives it’s never easy to hear what you have got wrong. Where you have failed another person you love. It hurts and it exposes our weakness. We want to explain it away, justify our actions, our words and thinking. Sometimes it involves only a sorry and I let you down conversation. I feel I need to get better at this. I feel we all need to get better at this.
My daughter needed to tell me how she felt, there was no arguing with that. I needed to hear her and understand how she felt. We both sat in the room vulnerable, hoping for a solution and I needed to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
I did. We did. We have solutions in place. but mostly I am hoping Jessie knew she was heard and her feelings respected. I am more and more convinced that’s what we all want in these times; I am so proud that my 9 year old was brave enough to fight and risk the conversation. I hope I am as brave as her.