Everybody has them. This morning I’m feeling positive, energetic, motivated, and like I MIGHT just get through at least a third of my to-do list. Most mornings I feel the exact opposite, so I’m just going to seize the moment while it lasts because there’s no telling what the afternoon might bring. Yes, most days I’m riding what I call my bipolar-coaster, but right now, I’m feeling good. For me, that’s worth sharing.
We have plenty of discussion about feelings in our house, because someone is always feeling something. My husband told me last night he felt I was inhibiting his right to free speech in the living room. Once the absurd laughter inside my head subsided, I reminded him that I’d just brokered a deal with an eight-year-old who asks EVERY NIGHT to sleep in my bed and her older brother who feels the need to freely speak down the hallway for 30 minutes after bedtime. The last thing I wanted to hear was another speech.
Of course, I want people to feel HEARD when they talk to me, especially my family, but when bedtime is a surprise every night of my precious ones’ lives, it gets to be a little much. Those kids were FEELING all over the place.
We as humans have come full circle in our view of feelings. The archaic notion of hiding our emotions so as to not appear “weak” is being replaced by education and open dialogue about depression and the need to dispel the shameful shroud of being “unhappy.” I see more and more people every day opening that door to conversation about this silent killer and know it is a step in the right direction.
Now, I don’t think that we should go stomping around feeling every last little thing in people’s faces. We live in a world where feelings are running rampant, or maybe it’s just the owners of the feelings who are. Red cup, white cup, tree cup, snow cup. Come on, people, it sounds like a less entertaining version of a Dr. Seuss book. Plus, you’re making it difficult for the folks who are REALLY struggling to get their point across and be heard. I know that’s not the intent, but all of that static you’re throwing up over a cup – or whatever the issue of the day is – drowns out the sound of people in need, people who have REAL issues that need attention but not necessarily the drive to shout for help over the chaos.
Just in case it’s not hard enough to maintain some semblance of feeling “normal” in the midst of all of the noise, there are those moments when someone hurts your feelings for no reason whatsoever other than their own ill temper or lack of consideration and manners.
I was recently the recipient of one such dig when I showed up at my son’s last baseball games of the season. I’ve been dividing my time this fall between his baseball, one daughter’s competitive cheer season, another daughter’s travel soccer season, my college kid’s parents’ weekend, and a whole host of other activities that come with a big, working, schooling, active family. I was getting situated in my favorite spot on the bleachers when another parent turned to me and said, “Well, it’s nice of you to show up now that the season is finally over.”
Wow. Just wow. You can imagine how that made me feel. One little comment sparked a whole litany of emotions within, feeding the abundance of mommy guilt I already carry. Aren’t we parents supposed to offer moral support rather than scrutiny? What I wanted to say was, “Yes, I have four children of varying ages and activities and I can’t be in four places at once!” or “If this is my first game, how do I have a favorite spot on the bleachers?! Ha!” Mature, I know, but sometimes being hurt brings out the fussy preschooler in all of us. But there was no need for an explanation, or the tears I hid moments later behind my sunglasses.
I’ve always told my kids when dealing with similar situations, “That’s not your problem, it’s theirs.” It sure isn’t always easy to practice what I preach, but for them, I try. I’ve recently evolved that lesson for my babes, suggesting that when someone is offensive to them, perhaps they are going through some struggles of their own. While that doesn’t excuse their ugly behavior, it hopefully will encourage my kiddos to pause and take a step back before reacting. I’m certain there have been days when I’ve been the offender, even if unintentionally, and I hope to be extended the same grace.
To each his own, folks. It’s ok to disagree. Who cares what color the cup is?? Just fill the darned thing with love and pass it along. Just because your opinion differs from others’ doesn’t make yours any more right than theirs. Rather, instead of getting caught up in our own opinions and feelings of the day, we could pause and consider what someone else might be going through. There’s much more happening in the lives of those around us than what always meets our eyes, and taking that single moment to extend an ounce of empathy can make all the difference for someone who’s hurting. A little understanding – and a long pause – go a long way.