Walk through any family’s front door, and you’re going to find a cast of characters. Dynamic, ever-evolving, and marvelously unique people making their way through this busy life. With three kids running around our home and often operating on their own very separate agendas, it feels nearly impossible to be present for each moment.
My daughter sits in the middle of our trio. Our only girl, and in my opinion, she rocks that role. She’s confident, resourceful, strong-willed, and sassy. I think if she had it her way, she’d float through most days in her own bedazzled bubble, learning and playing and just enjoying her world. Reality: She spends a large chunk of her waking hours dodging snarky comments from her older brother and helping chase the toddler. Some days, there are just one too many 8-year-old jabs, and a few too many lego towers knocked over by her “helper.” Some days, she’s had it.
When my oldest is upset, he’ll stick around on the couch or just kind of orbit around me as I move through the kitchen cooking. He doesn’t necessarily want to talk, but he wants to make sure I know he’s upset. Classic pre-tween. When my toddler’s upset, my neighbors can hear it. Your neighbors can hear it. There’s no missing that. My daughter does something unique.
She doesn’t always announce that she’s had too much. That she’s hurting and needs some extra attention. I simply notice I haven’t heard her sweet laugh for a while or that there seems to be a delay with the dance performance that was scheduled for our living room. I peek around the staircase, and there she sits. Waiting patiently for someone to notice. Taking time to feel her feelings without the interruption of her siblings.
Of all the parenting advice I’ve absorbed thus far in my journey, I’ve found this piece to come in handy: Stop and listen when they’re upset. No matter how big or small you think the issue is. What you feel is not what they feel. Listen in a way that makes them feel truly heard. Don’t brush it off. Don’t fix it. Just listen.
I hate to see my girl upset, but I’ve grown fond of these special moments for the two of us. She knows I’ll find her there, and we’ll take it on together, no matter the issue. Middle of the staircase, middle of our family, middle of mama’s heart. She’s just tackling this wild life, one day at a time.