Saturday, February 18, 2012

the power of empathy (and lego)

This is one of those posts where I debated whether I should share or not. But it seemed too powerful, so here I am, sharing…

Something in my upbringing has always led me to believe that it is a bad thing if I cry in front of kids. I should never cry in front of my kids. I guess it’s something about protecting them against sadness. I know if I think back, I don’t ever recall my mom crying, even though I’m sure she must have cried at some point while we were growing up!

A little while back, I had a REALLY tough day. I was alone with the kids, they were getting ornery and I wasn’t able to cope. I just barely got Aves pre-occupied and out of sight when I broke down crying. It was full-on tears, sobbing and difficulty breathing. Josh was standing right there in front of me. It was awful. In my tears, I muttered some things about sadness and Josh came over to me and hugged me. In the hug and my tears, he felt my sadness and Josh started crying too. As both of us were crying in our hug, he told me, “it’s going to be OK, Mommy.”. I cannot describe the feeling that it gave me to have my 5-year-old reassuring me that as bad as life seemed at that moment, it would all be OK at some point. His tears and words were so incredibly powerful.

We both stopped crying in our hug and I asked Josh to go and play so I could collect myself. He ran off, out of sight, and I sat there for a bit so I could breathe and get myself together.

About 5 minutes later, he came back and said, “I made something for you, Mommy.”. He handed me a Lego scene that he had made. There was a Lego person sitting at a table in front of a computer with a cup and a light beside it. Beside the table, there was a kitchen counter with a pan on the stove. This is not unlike our own home. Josh said it was me sitting in front of the computer. I was amazed. He ran off to play with Aves and when he went out of sight, I broke down crying again. It just seemed like so much from a 5-year-old.

I don’t know why I’m so shocked by this display of empathy and caring from someone so young. Their ability to absorb what they see and react with such innocence is…overwhelming.

In any case, his reaction and the comfort I received from it doesn’t make me more prone to breaking down in front of my children. In fact, it does the opposite. It has strengthened my resolve to follow my mantra of accept and forgive, so I don’t get to a point where I break down in front of my kids. Because I still have a hard time believing that it is ok for them to see this sort of sadness.

And, for what it’s worth, I was cherishing my Lego scene when, a couple hours later, Josh came up to me and asked for it back because he needed some of the pieces for a truck he was making. Ha! After I gave it back to him and he promptly dismantled it, I realized I didn’t take a picture of it. Ugh. Oh well, at least I will always have it in my memory. It was pretty awesome, though.

1 comment:

Carm said...

For what it is worth (not much I am sure) I am believer in letting my children see that we are all full of many different emotions. I think that they should see that their parents feel and experience life and those experiences invoke different reactions and feelings. It allows them to feel like their wide variety of emotions are normal and just plain ok to have. Just my humble opinion and how we are choosing to raise our kids. I guess the reason I am telling you this to help you graciously "forgive" yourself for letting Josh see that his mom is human. How else would you have seen the empathy that he had for you? How else would he have exercised that emotion towards his own mom. Beautiful gift and teaching moment in my opinion. *sigh* I am jumping of my soap box now :) xoxoxoxo