Another light-bulb moment for mom

Yesterday morning, Maura decided she didn’t want to get on the bus. I was all “GET ON THE BUS!” but she was having none of it.

I didn’t know why. She’d been asking about “class” since school ended. She got all excited about summer school (aka, ESY, aka extended school year) starting. She was nothing but happiness and smiles getting on and off the bus for two days.

But day three, it all went south.

Day three, I woke up to terrible headlines and upset friends, and because I’m a human with feelings, I felt them. I was all twisted up by the news, and by friends who were saddened and upset and frightened by the news.

And Maura refused to get on the bus.

I will admit, I yelled at her as she screamed at me. “No!” I shouted. “Enough!” I had asked for words, asked her what she wanted, was bending over backwards to her whims, but she spiraled downwards and I dove in with her.

I realized after we had both calmed down that maybe…maybe my mood had affected hers.

I told this to Josh that evening. “She is an empath.” he said. He’s totally right, and it’s not news to me. When Maura has cried because I yelled at her sibling. Maura will cry at movies. Maura’s emotions are big and strong and loud and open. When she’s happy, it’s contagious. When she’s sad, it’s heartbreaking.

The thing is, I think she gets it from me. I feel too much sometimes, which is hilarious if you know me and know how close I keep my feelings to myself. Maura is an emotional volcano of sorts, bursting with feelings. I’m more of an emotional jelly doughnut. I stuff all those feelings inside, and look a bit bland from the outside.

And yet there we were this morning, one empath feeding off the other. My daughter – MY daughter – feeling my emotions. I was spiraling, and I took her with me. I was frazzled, and she couldn’t figure out why.

We spent the day just sort of laying low. She played with dolls. I read a book. We both settled ourselves. I said “Hey, let’s watch a show.” finally. She put on pj’s and climbed into bed with me at 3 pm. I laughed because she was dressed for a pajama party. She tucked me in. I gave her arm some squeezes. We were happy and balanced again.

Today I had a light bulb moment. I need to get my anxiety, my emotions, in control so that I don’t take Maura down with me. My older three, they’ve always been amazing with me. I mean, how many teens ask “Are you okay Mom?” because they see I’m in a mood. I remember one time, years ago, I had a migraine. I put little Maura down for a nap, and told the older three to behave, watch tv, I needed to take a nap myself because my head hurt. I woke up to the smell of burning popcorn. Because the older three conspired to make me popcorn on the stovetop, because I liked popcorn. I couldn’t even be mad. Sure, the house smelled horrible, and the pot had to be thrown away because it was two inches of burnt on the bottom of the pot, but dang it if I don’t smile at the thought of my kids trying to make me some popcorn because I had a headache.

In a way, because those three have been so very awesome, I’ve grown a bit lazy in the mom department. I let these moods set precedence. No, that’s not right. I guess I’ve allowed these moods to be shown more. But I’m wondering, how are they affecting that fourth child of mine, the one who is so much like me in so many ways? The one who feels all the feels, like me?

And once again, one of my kids is challenging me to be the best that I can. Dang these kids of mine, who are growing into amazing human adults. And for the record – that is not part of the light bulb moment. My kids have always amazed me. Each one of them. Maura just likes to prove that after twenty years of parenting, I still have lessons to learn.