About a week ago my small family was having dinner. Little W was happily eating whatever her toddler version was of our meal, and my husband sat between us munching on his. I was having difficulty eating due to this fun time of nausea, but was attempting to do my best. Little W usually mimics us (nodding her head, motioning with her arms) during dinner, so she is usually a part of the conversation. At one point I made a distasteful face and put my forehead on the table for a second (face in hands) attempting to pull it together some and take a few breaths. When I sat up less than a minute later Mr. V said something interesting.
“She thought you were upset with her.”
“When you made a face and put your head down she made a self conscious and worried face as well and looked at me- thinking you were upset with her I suppose.” I looked across the table at Little W’s sweet little face and smiled. I told her I was just feeling sick and that was all (although I knew she did not understand my words) and it had nothing to do with her.
Ah, the job of being steady. Of course I am human and I will loose my cool sometimes because I am oh so far from being perfect and it is oh so easy to fall into a selfish trap. But I can try. I can work hard at being steady.
I recall the first time I needed to practice this skill. Little W was just starting to pull up on furniture and she would tumble 100 times a day it seemed. When she fell, she would often look up at me (or her father) and watch us. If we had a face of horror or serious concern, she would act accordingly and maybe cry or fuss. If we looked calm, she would evaluate her situation herself. If we smiled and joked “Oh, there you go again!” She would sometimes giggle along with us. This was a big moment for me because I remember thinking, what power. Those were my first times practicing steadiness.
Now that Little W is watching everything we do so intently, I know I need to act steady and safe to the best of my ability all the time. Does that put a lot on my shoulders? You bet it does. But will that pressure tear me down? No, because I am not going by myself. I have something bigger, stronger, and better than me that I look up to. I have my own steady Father who has given me the tools and the spirit to follow through with being a kind, gentle, steady mother. And that is what I want to be. Will I fail? Sure, I am flesh. But can I succeed? Yes. Each moment I succeed is important. And I fully believe that if your work at something the skill will become easier over time. It might even become second nature (how awesome would that be?!).
Now I know I can only speak of the sensitivity of my own daughter. She sees it all. She is remarkably aware of her surroundings and also consistently self-aware (like at the dinner table). She is a rough and tumbler of a girl, but she is highly sensitive. And I know these things are important because in this aspect she is me. And I remember the stress I put myself though as a child because of my own awareness. I know how sensitive I am, and I also know how detached I once was to save myself from personal pain. So in this I am just saying that I know my child. Your babe might not be as seemingly sensitive to many things. Or they might be, and you just never picked it up. But either way you are teaching your children how to respond and act to situations by how you do it. Do you want steady, calm and positive kids? Show them by example.
I’ll continue this in the next few days with a list of what I personally do to get myself to the place where I can be steady for my daughter (and also my husband!). I am sure many seasoned mothers have tried and true tips as well and I would love you to share those in the following posts.