When Mommy is Sad

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A fact you learn very quickly when becoming a mom – kids cry. Babies, especially, cry a lot and as moms we immediately want to comfort them and make the tears go away. As they grow, perhaps we don’t always feel the same – like when the crying merges with whining – but those mommy instincts always kick in when we see and hear their sadness. But what about when mommy is sad? What role do our kids play?

My kids have seen me cry – a lot. From the first tears of joy when they were born, to the tears of frustration when they wouldn’t sleep, to the tears of joy on Christmas morning. They’ve seen me upset, angry and disappointed. But until recently, they hadn’t seen me truly sad. Sure, I’ve felt sad and maybe shed a few tears in front of them, but they had not seen me dealing with the kind of sadness that comes with tragedy.

The week after Thanksgiving, my mom became severely ill after a routine procedure. She went on to suffer a stroke and other serious complications and has been in the hospital ever since. My mom – my best friend, my rock, and my support – was faced with the biggest hurdle of her life. As much as I wanted to keep the sadness I was feeling away from my two toddlers, I just couldn’t stop the tears. They saw me breakdown – they saw me at my lowest point.

Of course I had comfort from my husband, family and friends, but – as they often do – my little ones surprised me. I was terrified to let them see me feeling so sad. I wanted to hide my emotions from them, to protect their hearts and prevent them from feeling sad. When that just wasn’t possible, an amazing thing happened. They comforted me. Instead of me drying their eyes, they dried mine. Instead of me holding their hands, they held mine. They told me it would be okay.

I’m sure they felt some of my sadness. I can assure you that when you see your mom sad, it’s hard not to feel the same way. But what I’ve realized – they need to feel sadness. They need to see me feel sad and they need to know how to handle it. They need to know that it is okay to cry and feel sad, and they need to learn how to comfort. It seems they’ve already learned how to do that.

Beyond the signs of comfort, their innocence and presence have been my saving grace. They go on playing, laughing and living, because they know that’s what they have to do. It’s a lesson I am learning from them. When we feel sad, we feel it, cry, comfort and get back to life. As a mom, I hope to comfort my children and teach them about life. In this valley of my life, I know now that they will also comfort and teach me. And it may just be the most important lesson of our lives.

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I am a native Cincinnatian and thanks to a lot of moving, I know this city pretty well. I grew up on the Westside, attended Walnut Hills High School, and then headed to Oxford for an education degree at Miami University. After a few years in Hyde Park, my husband and I are settled in Northern Kentucky for the time being. One of the great things about the Cincinnati area is the abundance of wonderful neighborhoods, schools and family friendly activities! My husband, Andrew, and I have a son, Aiden (2) and our baby girl, Audrey. We didn’t exactly plan all of the “A” names, but it allows us to keep our family nickname – the A-Team. I am an elementary school teacher, but am on a leave of absence right now to be home with my kids. My days are filled with entertaining my babies, taking way too many pictures on my phone and changing a lot of diapers. Thanks to recent open-heart surgery, I have an aortic valve that ticks (like a clock!), I have ornithophobia (Google it) and I broke my hip when I was 18 (I will never ice skate again). But, I do love photography on my “real” camera, pretending I’m a good enough chef to have my own cooking show and playing outside. I turned to writing/blogging in order to document my family’s journey to better health and as motivation to keep myself on track. You can read more about my personal journey at www.limkelife.blogspot.com. I look forward to sharing the adventure of motherhood with you!

6 COMMENTS

  1. sometimes you just need to be sad, kids too. That’s one of the reasons I love the movie Inside Out! Is it weird that a toddler movie helped me realize that? Prayers to you and your mom during this difficult time.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I lost both my parents before I was 15, so I deal with a different type of sadness that’s hard to control sometimes. I try too to hide it from my son but sometimes it’s tough. One time I was upset and he comes to hold me and he started to cry. Seeing my 4 year old not realizing why I was crying but felt my sadness showed me he will be a compassionate man one day. I am honest with him and use words he understands, that mommy sometimes gets sad because she misses her mommy and daddy. And he’ll tell me it’s okay mommy. I know it is because I feel like they sent him to me and I have them back again in him. Showing emotion tells children that it is okay for them to show emotion.

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