Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts on Motherhood :: Being the teacher and the student.

{photo credit here}

My oldest son is a deep thinker who has big thoughts that take up residence in his mind. Don't get me wrong, he is a joyful child in general but as he goes out into the big bad world, these thoughts live in him, and turn over in his sweet young brain. It's my job to help him process these hefty worries that are just slightly too complex for him. We have many conversations and I am beyond thankful that he feels that he can confide in me. Yet, as a Mother, it is a heavy burden to bear.

I try to give him strategies to stop the cycle of anxiety that turns within him. Sometimes they help him and sometimes they don't. The other day I decided to give him a "worry doll" to put in his pocket. It was a small heart that he could rub if he felt worried about anything and I told him that rubbing it would activate my love for him and give him comfort. "No, it won't, that's not real." He scoffed as he placed the silly talisman into my defeated palm.

My heart sank, he's getting wiser and harder to comfort. Yet still, he comes to me, curls up in my lap, and tells me his innermost thoughts. I try to explain to him that he is in control of his brain and that if he feels anxious that he should just stop the scary thought and replace it with a different thought. I've tried to teach him the art of visualization and the power that our thoughts have over reality. I've tried to teach him to not be afraid of his own mind. These are huge concepts that some adults can't even grasp.

As I scoot him out to the world, my heart goes with him and wishes that I could carry the burden for him. What I would give to be by his side always, to build him up and make him feel strong. Worry settles in my own mind as my spirit aches to protect his sweet heart. It dawned on me recently that I have to practice what I preach if he is going to learn anything from me. I am the one who needs to be in control of my own thoughts and not allow myself to be consumed with worry about the fact that he worries. It's a strange and surprising paradox.

The truth is that I can take comfort in the fact that within all of his big thoughts, there are lessons to be found. I can't be afraid of watching him hurt because every single struggle that he overcomes is going to make him a better person. He can't be sheltered from his own anxiety because otherwise how will he ever learn to manage it as he grows into an adult? My hope is that he will be a very mindful man who has an extraordinary understanding of his own thoughts. I can only imagine how self aware he will be from the hard work that we are doing now. Maybe I am planting seeds that will bloom as he ages. Perhaps he will remember the day that he curled up in my lap and his mama told him to never be afraid of his own thoughts. Maybe the same seeds blossom in me as I learn to manage my maternal worries that I feel for him.

I am his teacher but I am also a student. My hope is to always learn something new about myself through my children as I navigate with them through this life. Motherhood is such a humbling experience for me as the responsibility lies on my shoulders to guide them through life. Yet, sometimes as I work my hardest to lift Griffin up, I find that it is actually his small and brave shoulders that carry me.

12 comments:

singedwingangel said...

This is beautiful Leigh and so true. Today's kids face so much more then we ever thought about facing and sometimes their strength in the face of such scary situations is inspiring to we the adults who are supposed to be their strength.

Mother Theresa said...

Yeah, that's exactly the way it works, you've nailed it. Great post! :)

Katherine said...

What a beautiful post, especially the last line.

I always wonder how much my worrying rubs off on my children. I try to keep my worries to myself more often. But we do need to do our best to help our children cope instead of consistently protecting them from everything.

Dixie Mom said...

Oh, that is hard. Having a wise child. I think...I hope those deep thoughts will help him to see the world clearer when he's older. In the mean time...enjoy that he is sharing his thoughts with you. You must be a good Momma for him to trust you with all those things running around his brain.

Caution Flag said...

Having a deep thinking child is wonderful and terrible. Your boy is so very fortunate to have an equally deep-thinking mom.

R Montalban said...

You are just so thoughtful and lovely.

Asha said...

This post rally spoke to me, Leigh. Around xmas my son's friend was beaten to death by his step-father. Ever since, I have been trying to assist my son through all of the emotions that this event has brought with it. Like your child, my son thinks I should have the answers to everything and like you, I wish I did. I too wish I could carry his burden. If I could, I would.
http://www.ashafullife.blogspot.com

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Oh I loved this post, Leigh! It IS so hard to watch them worry. I remember worrying about things as a child. One thing that helped me: my dad gave me a prayer box. It was shaped like a mailbox and I would write my prayers and "mail" them to God. I remember that really helping me.
You're such a good, Mama, Leigh.
xo

Sue said...

So very well-written, and all true!

You are a wise mother.

=)

Stephanie K. said...

This made me cry; as I read it, my son is playing in the sinkful of water and the winter sun is shining on his little shoulders that will someday be a man's...what a huge responsibility for us mamas, to teach them to be gentle and strong, to be aware of the things that scare them without succumbing to them...what a beautiful and wise post.

Much More Than Mommy said...

You're a very, very wise mommy. And I bet your son has a huge heart, too. My older daughter seems to be extra sensitive -- she has been bursting into tears from time to time lately, just missing her great-grandma (who is still living), hoping she's not lonely, and saying, "I wish she could feel me hugging her." We tell her to pray. I'm hoping that she'll get that whole "pray without ceasing" thing a lot earlier than I did.

Snuggle Wasteland said...

This was so beautiful, Leigh. You're a good mom to those little boys.