By Elisabeth Corcoran
Dear friends of mine told me a few weeks ago that they are moving. Pretty far away. For those of you who have been reading this column of mine for awhile, you know that I've been living in crisis mode since late summer. The moment she told me they were leaving, I went from walking wounded to walking devastation.. I just don't have the typical emotional reserves to handle this kind of loss in the middle of our current stress (not that it would have been easy at another time, by any means). When I said goodbye to my friend that night, my daughter, who had just seen us both crying, asked me if I were okay. I said I was sad and that I couldn't talk to her about it quite yet. She left me a note that night on the stairs going up to my bedroom that said, "Mommy, are you sure you're okay? Answer here: Love, Sara".
When we're hurting, when there is a crisis, how much should we let our kids in on? This cloud that my husband and I are living under - I've wondered since day one what to tell my kids. We have actually told them nothing. But I still wonder what bits and pieces of conversations they may have overheard over the past several months that might be adding up to something in their heads. My son, sweet boy that he is, probably has no idea there even is a problem that we're battling. My daughter on the other hand is quite intuitive. I am frankly surprised she hasn't said anything to us about it. I had asked someone I respect if there were signs of stress I should be looking for in my kids, and she said something to the effect of "kids live life in retrospect.. in a few years they may look back on this time in their lives and say, 'ohhh, that's what was going on', but right now, I wouldn't be surprised if they have no idea."
That night a few weeks ago, I answered my daughter's note. I wrote back and said I was really sad and that I wasn't okay right now but I would be and that I loved her and I was thankful that she asked me. You know, it kind of reminds me of the anecdote of the little boy who asked his dad where he came from, and his dad fumbled through a long and embarrassing facts of life talk, and the little boy looks at him and says, "uh, no, Dad, like Susie is from Ohio.. where am I from?" Some details should be left unsaid. We don't need to ask our children to bear the weight of what we're going through. In fact, I strongly believe we shouldn't. But in being moms, we are called to prepare our kids for life. And, Moms, life is hard sometimes. I really believe it's okay to tell them that, and to share when you're sad and when you're struggling. But we've got to also reassure them that we're being walked through it. Walking wounded to walking devastation. At least I'm still putting one foot in front of the other. And I've got Someone walking beside me. I think I'll tell her that.
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