In researching our books, when we’d talk to the prior generation of mothers, we’d often ask if their now grown or almost grown children were the same basic people as when they were three or four or five years old. Almost all of the time, the answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ So it’s really wild when your child busts out with a thought or insight or opinion that might just give you a glimpse into who they’ll be – or who they already are.
The other night, when Amy was in the midst of a total mental breakdown over house and family stuff, her kids Sam and Emily came over to her, kind of horrified that she had snot running down her nose and was heaving sobbing, uncontrollably (she usually holds it somewhat together and fakes it pretty well in front of them). Emily immediately broke down crying – “I’m scared! What’s going on?!” Sam, on the other hand, put his hand on her shoulder and calmly said, “Mom, you need to BREATHE. Just breathe, c’mon. You don’t need this stress. It’s okay, really.” It was quite amazing to see not only the difference in their reactions, but how they are becoming their own, strong, thoughtful little people.
And by the way, it’s totally completely acceptable to let your kids see you have a breakdown, and then see you pull yourself together. No need to put up the facade – it’s too much work, anyway.