I typically don’t write about my children. Not because I don’t want to — they do hilarious and sweet and brave things all the time that would make very interesting stories — I just don’t because I’ve chosen not to. But one of my daughters reminded me of something very important recently — important enough that I’ve decided to share it here.
It all started when I began writing my “Mazes, Minefields, and Sheep” post. The post began like many others — past and current experiences mixed with wise counsel led to a desire to understand current realities which, of course, led to writing about it. I’d like to say that writing about it was cathartic. It wasn’t. POSTING it was cathartic, but actually writing it made me probe memories and experiences, I would have preferred lie dormant. And the more I thought and wrote about it, the more frustrated I became.
For the record, I’ve heard that frustration is a secondary emotion which, ironically, makes me think of primary and secondary colors. Let’s see — MAD (primary) mixed with just a hint of SCARED (also primary) and a splash of SAD (primary, got it) leaves us with . . . I don’t know, a purple slurple sludge of inner torment.
So as I wallowed in my primordial slop of colored emotions during the writing process, I periodically looked up to see my two angelic children peering into the murky abyss, innocently requesting bread to be sliced or, I don’t know, food to actually be cooked and served. The nerve. Heaven forbid either of them should ask for help with schoolwork. Such a request typically resulted in the emotional equivalent of the “Swamp Thing” rising from its lair, oozing frustration all over them.
So, finally, one child had enough of it and said, “Why are you being so sharp with me every time I ask you something? Mommy — you’re making me miserable!” I stood there for a moment, primordial gook still dripping down my face after rising from my emotional swamp. I had to make a choice. Would I —
- Douse her bravery and pull her into the swamp of frustration with me?
- Flat out deny it “Sharp? Me? I’m never sharp!”?
- Talk to her about the swamp itself, why I was there, the importance of trudging through it, but how that was NO EXCUSE to sling that slop all over her in the process?*
Obviously, you want me to pick 3 and, ta-da! I did. But I really wanted to pick 1 and just drag her into the swamp of frustration with me. That certainly would have been the easiest thing to do. Frankly, 2 would have been a flat out lie because “Swamp Mommy” was still dripping with emotional swamp water right in front of her. To deny its existence would have been the height of hypocrisy.
I would like to say that I’ve made the “right” decision every time a situation like this has arisen since then, but I haven’t. Not by a long shot. And there may be other options for response that I haven’t yet considered. But at least I was reminded of this —
- Emotional swamps are real
- We should try our best to understand why they’re there
- Sometimes we or others must trudge through them
- Emotional swamp trudging NEVER gives one person the right to mistreat another
- Despite their position, authority figures should be held accountable for bad behavior
And there you have it, my recent lesson in humility. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are a few other primary colored emotions that I hope to explore. The question is, what emotional color scheme goes well with “Swamp Mommy” green?
*In addition to asking for forgiveness!