On November 17, 2014, hubby and I woke up pretty early in the morning, so I could have a good breakfast before fasting for surgery. Under recommendation from my doctor, we had scheduled a Caesarian, which meant there was no labor, no water breaking, no urgent rush to the hospital. Rather, there was an early morning breakfast, a long nap midday to try and fill the fasting time, and a relatively awkward wait until it was time to head to the hospital and check in.
The surgery itself was its own experience, and one that I was not really happy with in the long run. I’ll probably write about that experience in its own post another time. As uncomfortable as it was, though, in the end, it could still be considered one of the best days of my life, because it’s the day that our son came into the world.
Over the following 4 years, we’ve had quite the adventure. We made it through the first few months, when he struggled to gain weight. We made it through my grandmother’s decline and passing due to Alzheimer’s. We have been to 2 weddings, 2 funerals, 2 graduations, and lived in 2 apartments. I’ve experienced ups and downs in my battle with depression. Most of all, I’ve seen my son grow from a curious infant to a kind, considerate, and very unique preschooler.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve bumped into in my journey through parenting is emotions. As someone who has struggled with emotional health and depression for as long as I can remember, how in the world am I supposed to be able to help this new little person learn how to manage his own emotions?
Well, by teaching him some of the skills I’ve been learning myself, at least, at his level. Emotions themselves are neither good nor bad, it’s behavior that can be right or wrong. It’s OK to feel our emotions, even the big ones, but it’s not OK to use them as an excuse to do the wrong thing (like hitting/throwing/slamming doors), and it’s OK to cry. It’s good to talk about our big emotions when we’re having them, or to ask for some space to work through them.
Is it working? Well, when we see other kids having meltdowns or tantrums at the store or mall, the kiddo has started saying, “They’re crying. Maybe they’re having a hard time with their big feelings.” When he starts getting upset, I frequently hear, “I just need a minute.” What’s more, he’s amazingly empathetic and caring, frequently reaching out to try and help hubby or I when we’re feeling sad, like the time he came up and comforted me when I was crying earlier this year.
Aside from being surprisingly caring and empathetic for a 4 year old, I’m also proud of how self-sufficient he is, at least for his age. Most mornings, including his birthday morning, he stays in bed until his OK to Wake clock turns green, then gets up, gets dressed, goes potty if he needs to, and then plays either in his room or in the living room, or sometimes he comes into our room, if neither of us is up yet. He’s also pretty good at putting his dirty clothes away when he changes, and putting his dirty dishes in the sink after each meal.
So, despite all of the roller coasters of the past 4 years, which have flown by, despite that annoying, nagging voice of doubt that’s fed by depression and constantly whispering in my ear, In the end, I’m pretty proud of my son. He’s friendly with other kids, enjoys himself, and surprises me every day. He loves Thomas the Train, leading prayer before each meal, dancing, and tracing his letters. He very much appreciates following the rules, and, while he doesn’t want to break the rules, he does try to find loopholes, especially when it comes to bedtime.
He’s my pride and joy, and, this weekend, we celebrated him, and his 4th birthday. Happy birthday, kiddo!
Who is someone who makes you smile?