Dear Middle Child,
At two you have many strong furious sad emotions and strong wants, needs, desires. You see clearly what it is that you want to do, your imagination lights up and your boundless energy explodes, and then things don’t go the way you thought and it all falls apart to messy snotty tears and shrieking.
Sometimes you need the space to cry it out. To curl against my chest the way you did when you were an infant, and shriek in my ear until it rings and until my shirt is damp with tears, snot and drool.
You do not need to be made to feel better, you do not need to be distracted, you do not need to be chastised, you do not need to be ignored.
You need us to TURN DOWN THE VOLUME. To step back. To recede quietly and to give you a safe warm comforting space in one of our arms where you can let it all out. All the tears, the sad, the anger, the frustration, the built up stress of all that you want to do but cannot yet do. The excitement over all the things that you have learned and the sadness at the things you cannot yet do.
I do not need to fix this, you are fixing it yourself. You are venting all the pent up things that you cannot deal with, and you are spending out all that energy that you have inside so that your mind can be free and clear of the hurricane that has been building for some time. I need to let you do this, to let you scream it out and cry it out and sob it out, and whimper it out, and sniffle it out, and snuggle it out until we both sit there quietly for a while and you notice that book sitting on the shelf next to us. Until you slip from my lap and bring it back with a tear-stained smile. “Mommy, read dis book!” And we will. We’ll read a book about funny faces while the tears dry from your face.
When it is all past, you scamper off as though nothing has happened. Because nothing has. I have not told you to shove your emotions deep inside. I have not told you that they are too big or too scary for me to deal with. I have not berated you or made you feel small. I have not told you to sit in a corner until you “stop yelling”.
I don’t wish to teach you that your emotions are scary things that we cannot deal with, because I do not want you to fear them. I want you to understand them deeply and to understand that they pass. I do not want you to feel that you have to be guilty for them. I do not want you to think that they somehow “get you things” or change things. They just are. They are feelings. And they run deep.
I’ve given you a tether to hold onto while you let the storm rage. I’ve let you cry it out until the storm was past. And the only thing that remains is a feeling of peace in each of us. (And a couple of shirts that desperately need to be changed.) There are no apologies that need to be said. There are no hurt feelings to be mended.
What there is, is a space in my lap where you can lay your head against my chest and yell into the slow and steady even rise and fall of my breath, and feel my heart beat as it does not quicken. There is a space for you to re-find your calm as I offer you a mirror that tells you that there is no danger, nothing to fear in these strong turbulent feelings of yours. There is no sadness or anger that you need to hold onto.
And so you cry it out, and it passes. Like a thunderstorm in summer that leaves behind a rain-spattered sunshiney day.
Your feelings don’t scare me, child. I recognize them as the things that I carried inside for years. Let them out, let them crash into me. I’m strong enough to take it. They take up space better filled with all the happy things.
And I want you to have all the space you can for all the joys that you deserve.
I understand. We all need the space to cry sometimes. Do not be afraid of it now or ever.
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