image found here
I remember on my 26th birthday thinking to myself "This feels good! I am enjoying getting older and I am finally comfortable in my own skin!"
Almost a year later I can say that I don't feel that way all the time, but more than any other time in my life, I am comfortable with who I am. There are times when I wish I could be more...more...well, more of something else. But wanting to be different is usually wanting to be better, and that is good.
Lately I have realized that I not only want to be better, but I need to be better at giving comfort. My husband was sick a couple weeks ago, and I found that my way of dealing with it (and when I mean dealing with it, I mean taking care of the kids by myself for a week as he required us to be extra quiet while he worked from home, slept every other hour of the day, and occupied our normal living space while doing it), was to just leave him alone. Did I offer to bring him anything he might need--cough drops, tea, ibuprofen? Nope. Did I hug him or scratch his back or rub his throbbing head? Nope. I was no source of comfort whatsoever! Yikes!
When my kids start to cry, often my first reaction is to say, "Oh, come on! Toughen up a little and stop crying!" I think this has developed over time as the result of parenting a whiny, over-dramatic little girl. But then again, maybe I'm just not sensitive to the kind of comforting she needs.
Yesterday we were in the car on our way to a music lesson for my four-year-old. I had several other errands to stop and do along the way. Somewhere between the post office and the bank she began to cry about the clothes she was wearing. They were making her uncomfortable and she could not be consoled. I tried reasoning with her--I reminded her that I had warned her about her clothing choice before leaving the house. I was kind of glad to see the realization of my words coming to light--but the reasoning power of a four-year-old is not quite strong enough to override the power of physical discomfort. Her cries were clear, "I'm uncomfortable, mommy! I don't want this!"
So while I was initially bent on making this a learning experience for her, I realized that what she might learn was not what I intended. Rather than learning that she should listen to her mother, in her state of discomfort what she might learn is that mom just doesn't care.
But I do care. So I pulled the car over and did what I could to make her comfortable. The crying stopped, driving resumed, and comfort was found in a few moments time.
I am sure that those few moments will prove to be a more significant learning experience for me than for my little girl. And I'm sure it has to do with the fact that I've been thinking about the idea of comfort all week, but in those few moments I realized that I need to be better at giving comfort. I need to be better at physically comforting--if my children are physically uncomfortable, they will be able to find the emotional comfort that I want them to feel. I want to teach them to be comfortable with me, to be comfortable with who they are, and to be comfortable being exactly that person when they are with me.
It doesn't matter how comfortable I am with myself, my example will be lost if my children are not able to feel comfort with and from me.
Maybe it's not just a matter of being comfortable with who I am, but what I am--and I am forever a mom.