I thought it would make sense to her. We posted it on the refrigerator where she could read it whenever she got out of line and I thought we had an understanding. I'm not sure if it worked or not tonight. I like to think it had, but threatening me brought everything to a whole new level. I am proud that I stayed calm in the midst of the turmoil, but nothing I said or did managed to calm her down.
Finally, after about 15 minutes of the fracas, I managed to get her into bed when I told her I would hold her while she cried.
It is in the moment that we are in the most despair that our walls come tumbling down and we finally hear what the other person is saying. My sweet little girl finally got into bed, after telling me she was in no way going to bed again, and let me just hold her while she cried. A lot came out then. She is missing her daddy as much as I am. She is missing him more. (I am not knocking my husband, just stating my truth. I know this will change as life progresses) He is her rock and her strength in a way he will never be mine. I rely on him, but my dad is the person who talks me off of the cliff because he knows just what to say and how to say it. My mom is my best friend, but my dad is my safe harbor in the turmoil that is this life. I know that is how my husband is to my daughter. I don't know how to reassure her when she feels her life is falling apart. I don't know how to be the rock she stands on when the seas get too deep. I can only hold her and tell her I know how she feels.
I don't know if what I do is enough. In fact, I know what I do isn't enough. I don't have the strong arms that give her so much shelter when she is in despair. I don't have the deep voice that can calm her hysterical crying. All that I can do is hold her to try and shelter her from the storm of emotions she is facing.
I have a small sense of what she is feeling, and I only hope I can convey some of my remembrances to her when she misses someone. My parents divorced when I was 9 and I only got to see my dad twice a year and we only got to talk on Sundays. We lived in Germany and he stayed here in the states. I guess in a way I was lucky because I had a father figure in my step-dad to make up for it a bit. He was someone I could go to for the male companionship when I missed my dad and the strength he could provide me. I was fortunate in that I had my dad for 9 years and then my step-dad came immediately into the picture. I never missed the strength that a man could bring for the family.
I have to be both parents. I read recently about a military wife that said she never tried to pick up the place her husband left when he went to war or training. I don't understand how she felt she could only be the 'mom' and left the 'dad' figure to dissipate in the breeze and the hole that he left behind. I think you have to be both parents when you are on this journey. You have to give the love and cuddles the mom gives and be the strong one when things fall apart, like a father would do.
It's very hard. Sometimes the children resent a parent for trying to fill in where the other leaves off. Sometimes they like to feel as if the balance is still there. I think it must be hard for a parent to come home and feel left out of the decision making. I think it must be hard to be away for so long. I may get really upset at my kids, I may think things I later regret, but I am so grateful I get to be there. I am so grateful I don't miss graduations and recitals and all the other things that come in between in which you have the ability to show pride in your children.
When I have to spend an hour calming down a child who wants to physically harm me, I have to understand where they are coming from. I have been there. I know what it's like to feel all alone in this world and that your only ally is the one person who can't be there when you need them. I wish my husband were here (and not only for the help with diaper changes - peee-ew) to help me out on this roller coaster of parenting. I wish he could put his strong arms around us all and tell us everything was going to be okay. I understand why he does what he does. In the meantime I need to be strong and caring, which is a bit overwhelming at times.
I will hold my children when they cry; the despair they feel needs me to heal them. I am the only one here. I tell them they feel like their hearts are breaking. But, like a scar that needs to make extra skin to heal, their hearts are growing bigger. When the heart grows bigger, unfortunately there is more room for hurt. It's what you do with the extra space in your heart that makes you special. You can fill the space up with hate and hurt, or you could fill it with love and compassion. I prefer the later. There may be something to the world if we have the compassion to understand why people do what they do, and the understanding of what it is that causes them to do it.
I hope I can teach my children that. Despite the loneliness and despair when someone you love isn't there to hug and be with there is hope for happiness and everything good that comes from that.
Until then, I hug the tears away and hope anything I say or sing to them helps them somewhere along this journey of life.