Her words sank in and offered me a whole new way of looking at things. Previously I would have seen my shortcomings, my failures as a mother. On top of that I would have inflated the emotions of my son to eclipse anything else.
Now I saw an opportunity to empower him.
I find it so amazing how just one little thing, just one little sentence can turn a light on in a room I didn’t even realize was dark.
“But Zachary, you did just the right thing, didn’t you? You called out and mom heard you and you found each other. You took care of yourself.”
This was new.
Not the chatty mom who made a pit-stop on our way out of school. My poor children are quite accustomed to my tendency to find and stop at any opportunity to have a meaningful connection with someone.
But when I make such a pause and my children are young enough to not realize this and they keep going, they loose me. They look around and mom has mysteriously disappeared. Panic may set in to their small little hearts.
Thus what happened to Zachary this day. And when his nervous holler for mom found it’s way to my ears, I responded how I always did. “I’m so sorry, honey! I stopped and didn’t tell you. You must have been scared. I am so sorry.” Because, of course, this is all about me and how terrible I am.
But then she affirmed my son and his ability to find his way out of a sticky situation.
He took care of himself. Wow. That is something that has taken me almost 40 years and a lot of therapy to do. And my then three-year-old did it without even really thinking about it.
Children solve problems. All the time. And I WANT my children to be problem solvers. I want them to know how capable they are. But I realized in this moment that sometimes I take away their natural problem solving skills because I am so wrapped up in my own self.
This became my new mantra. My eyes were opened to how my children solve problems all the time, all over the place. And I could point that out to them. So that then they know they have this very important skill. And hopefully it grows.