I’ve been thinking about how much support we all need. It seems that the amount of support we need varies from person to person, but we all have this in common. All of us.
I see it in the two- and three-year-olds who come to the playgroup year after year. How many times do we say to our kids: “Good for you!” or “You did it!” or “I knew you could do it by yourself!” And then when they are upset, spending time with them, trying to say the right things and hoping all along that they just feel better, soon. I’ve always said there is nothing better than when your child is happy, and nothing worse than when he or she is not. Those feelings of helplessness for us are unbelievably frustrating at best!
I wrote a piece called: “Being Seen” and maybe that’s what is underlying our need for support and how we recognize it in other people. Our children are particularly vulnerable. But support is a tricky thing. It doesn’t mean that you will approve of everything they do. (This is hard to imagine for many of us when our kids are really small.) In fact, I’m pretty sure I went a little too heavy on excitement over any little accomplishment my daughter made when she was really young. I think I made her self conscious. Oh, the things we regret about our parenting!
Support can look unrecognizable at times. There are moments, especially at the beginning of the playgroup year, that I have to hold a child on my lap if, for example, they are getting up and down from the lunch table having not eaten anything. One thing most kids have in common is a need to refuel. If they don’t, they can get run down and cranky even before they need a nap. It’s a little weird to hear myself ask: “Do I have to sit with you?” What a threat! When they’re ready to let it go (and keep me away!) they simply say: “No!” They proceed to feed themselves, with increasing calmness. I remember a wonderful and brilliant boy who got so mad at me for doing this that he “called” his mom and then sister, pretending his hand was a cell phone, and telling them: “Judy’s being mean!”
We need support as parents. A lot of support. Some of us are victims of questionable parenting ourselves. Others of us try to do everything ourselves, as if that is more noble. It’s not. Find someone you can trust with your fears and frustrations about raising your child(ren). There is a big price to pay for not getting the support you need, when you need it.