I had a moment earlier this month.
I’m one of those “need a good cry every once in a while” people… and my in-a-while happened a couple of weeks ago. I curled myself up in a ball on the couch and let it loose after I got triggered by something random. Mid tissue grab… I heard my four year old’s feet skipping up the basement stairs and I prepared myself for the questions about why I had “real tears” on my face.
I fully planned to tell her why, too. Mommy felt tired. And Mommy hadn’t rested enough… so it made Mommy feel a little overwhelmed, but she was going to be ok. My hope was that if she felt the same way sometime one day… that she knew it was alright to cry too.
But the “why” question never came.
Instead… I felt her little four-foot stature near me by the couch. And without saying a word… in the most adorable act of compassion… I felt her little hand rub my cheek the way that I do hers when she’s upset. And then she climbed up on the couch and kept her arms tight around my neck. And she just closed her eyes and hugged me. For a good five minutes. Every once in a while we each opened our eyes to look at each other… and we both smiled.
Not once did she ask me why I was crying. She didn’t try to talk me out of crying. She didn’t try to tell me how to make it better. She just compassionately gave me company in that moment – almost giving me permission to give my emotions a breath of fresh air after being bottled up inside.
Never. in. my. parenting. life. did I feel more proud of her. For being so selfless and for having that intuition to know exactly what I didn’t even know I needed in that moment. No judgement. No suggestions on how to make it better. Just some love. And a little bit of silence.
I’ve always known that her little spirit was a special one. But this moment not only heightened that awareness… but it also reminded me what a responsibility I have to make sure that I foster that spirit and never let her lose it, or let anyone else take it away from her. It’s within her. And Lord knows we need more of that in our world.
We do need more of that, don’t we? We need more people around us who just let us “feel” without judgement.
And that starts by being one of those people ourselves. It’s a common thing that when someone is talking… or venting… instead of truly listening, we are already thinking about the next thing we are going to say. About how “we” have a story that relates. Or how “we” want to talk about what we are going through. Or even coming up with ideas of what the person in front of us “should” do to make things better. All while we are not LISTENING. We want people to HEAR us, but how can we expect that if we aren’t listening ourselves? Or giving someone that space to just be open without fear.
I know I’m guilty of doing that all of the time.
But the way my daughter made me feel that day was push enough to work on being better… so that I can pay her sweet little gesture forward the next time I find myself around a friend having her “in-a-while.” To just let her be, and to be the person who hears her. To let her feel her own emotions and not my judgement. To just be a presence of support … and not a problem solver.