The most important thing to know about me is that I’m Mama to two wonderful daughters, Delilah and Rowan. They have similar interests but very different personalities.
Our eldest daughter is calm and reserved unless she is acting out a dramatic schoolyard tale, sharing her love of a new novel she finished, or recounting her recent mastery of a video game. Meanwhile, our youngest daughter only goes to 11, and she has since birth.
Writing this now, I am smiling thinking about hearing Rowan’s tiny baby wails from the hall as her little newborn cart was pushed into our hospital room when it was time for her to nurse.
“One minute she was just fine and the next she decided she was hungry, and right now,” the nurse proclaimed at every feeding.
When Rowan is happy, she is the most happy.
When she is offended, she is the most offended.
When she is silly, she is the most silly.
Rowan comes by it honest because I am just the same. And if either of us is angry? “Katie, bar the door!” We feel all emotions very intensely.
My own experiences living with thirty-four years of suddenly shifting emotions and moods make me especially empathetic to Rowan’s feelings and, since she arrived in our family, we have prioritized encouraging Rowan to communicate how she feels.
“I’m so happy!”
“I am angry!”
“That makes me very sad.”
“I am SO frustrated!”
“I’m not feeling very well…”
“I’m so proud of myself!”
“I do not want to talk! No talking!”
I often think how fortunate we are that Rowan is keen to tell us exactly how she feels in a given moment and that we have daily chances to demonstrate to her that expressing how she feels to people she trusts can help with mitigating anger and frustration as well as make the joyous moments even more exuberant.
Since Rowan turned four in January, and as she has become more astute at recognizing a variety of emotions within herself, she has started to pose a question to me, especially when she feels sad or upset, that I find both precious and poignant:
“Do you love me in any feeling?”
From there, the conversation tends to go something like this:
“Yes, Mommy loves you in any feeling. And so does Daddy, and so does Delilah.”
“Do you love me in all 100 feelings there are?”
“Yes, I love you in all 100.”
“In all 1,000 feelings?”
“I love you in all feelings, no matter how many you have.”
Okay, I had to take a moment to cry.
Thinking about this interaction with Rowan makes me remember the tears my mom and dad shed at my own similar childhood questions and doubts. Tears that I only now understand because I am a parent. When your children hurt, you hurt, and there is no help for it.
I never want either of my children to ever believe, even for a moment, that my love is conditional. The love that flows from parent to child is the most powerful feeling I have ever known and the most valuable gift I could ever bestow.
It is my goal to always maintain relationships with my children that are founded on the principles of love, trust, and open communication. Through my attitudes, my words and, most importantly, my actions, I want my daughters to feel and know and understand that I will love them unconditionally,
in any feeling;
Have your children asked you a similar question; how did you reassure them? Share your story with me in a comment. Thank y’all for reading.