One of the defining moments in Mr. Rogers’ life was when he was bullied as a child. When he told grownups, they would simply tell him to ignore it and buck up. It was painful for him because all he wanted was for someone- the grownups, the bullies- to recognize his sad feelings and acknowledge them and tell him it was okay to feel sad and even angry.
We live in a world of advice, a world of stitch-it-up-and-make-it-better. I think, just like Mr. Rogers experienced, that we forget that it’s okay to have feelings. It’s okay to feel sad and to cry and to feel scared or worried or angry. And the more honest we are with those feelings, the closer we will be to our authentic inner selves- our deep and simple selves.
This morning as I dropped my 4-year-old off at preschool, I was driving away and I had this little nagging inside of me. I paused for a moment to find out what that nagging was- had I forgotten to pack her lunch? No. Did I put the check in her backpack for her tuition? Yes. So what was it? I realized that that nagging was the pull of motherhood, that little pang that one of my babies was far from me. It’s a natural instinct as mothers, but we’re told all around us that we need to push them out of the nest and let them fly, that they’ll be fine, not to worry, you’ve done a good job preparing them for the world, suck it up and say goodbye.
But I don’t want to suck it up.
So I took a moment to feel that feeling. I took a moment to embrace the fact that I was truly sad to see her go, to have her away from me, because I am a mother and she is my baby and I miss her when she’s not here. It doesn’t matter if it’s her first day of school or her 1,001st. It doesn’t matter if she bounces off the walls and drives me crazy. I am allowed to be sad when she’s gone. I’m even allowed to cry if I want to. It doesn’t make me weak or pathetic- it makes me human, especially because it’s a feeling that is resulting from my mothering instincts, one of my most basic human instincts as a woman.
After embracing my sadness and realizing its source, it was quickly replaced by joy and gratitude that I get to be a mom. I can fully feel those emotions and appreciate them for the deep, simple truths that they express: that I love my children deeply, that they are gifts from God, and that He has endowed me with instincts to care for and nurture them as He would. What a blessing.
Take a moment today to pause and embrace your emotions, because they are a part of who you are. Do it privately or with someone you trust. Or share with me, because...well, I like you just the way you are. :-)