Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A lesson on heartache

 It seems a bit ironic that I haven't blogged in almost a month and I come back to write a post about "heartache" during the month of LOVE! Ha!
I promise this isn't about a romantic type of heartache, though, or some failed relationship that will make everyone depressed...
Instead this post is about a maternal type of heartache, a pain that all most parents go through at one point or another and it happened to me not too long ago...part of my kids growing up, I guess, but painful nonetheless.
I found this meme (on the left) and it seemed to be so fitting for what I (my daughter) was going through and it got me thinking a lot about those moments when our kids suffer and we simply cannot do much (or anything) to make it all better...

Here's what happened... a couple of weeks ago it was announced that every kid in the school would be able to participate in an "Elocution" contest, an activity that is traditionally part of "Catholic Schools Week" and one that, in all honesty, hasn't been that big of a deal for the girls.  But this year was different as Olivia came home one day determined to learn the 4th grade poem and fixated on the idea of getting "somewhere" in this contest. For days and days she practiced this poem and "I have a friend named Jesus" (that was the title of the poem) became part of our daily routine; she would recite this poem every second of the day, she'd sing it in the shower, tell it in the car, she memorized this thing like she would her favorite song or prayer. One day she came home saying that instead of reciting the poem she was going to sing it for the class and even added a melody she created to go with the lines of this elocution piece. She put all fears aside and stood in front of her class and sang the poem. That afternoon when I picked her up from school, she ran to the car and started screaming "I made it to the finals, I made it to the finals!", this kid couldn't hide her joy and I swear I almost cried just watching the gigantic smile on her face..
...and then the next day happened...I guess Olivia was under the impression that her spot in the finals was a done deal..but it turns out it wasn't.. other kids were participating and her class representatives hadn't been chosen officially...
When I picked her up the next day she didn't say much, which is very unusual for her since she's the definition of a chatter box.. the contest was coming up and I noticed she was keeping quiet about it so naturally I asked and that's when the flood gates opened...the same girl that couldn't stop smiling the day before was now bawling because she hadn't been picked after all and there was NOTHING I could do to make her feel better.  She started saying things like "I suck at poems", "It was probably my singing that ruined everything", "I'm going to quit the choir", "I never win anything", "when will I ever get picked?", etc.. you get the point, I'm sure..and I just can't tell you how painful it was to see my baby girl so disappointed...
And then it hit me.. I said to myself "let's turn this into a life lesson", "let's make this a teachable moment"...there I was, speechless and heart broken but with the huge responsibility of building my child up instead of encouraging her to wobble in her sadness. I needed to come up with the right words, I needed to say something that would make her feel better without trivializing her feelings.
I grabbed her gently by the shoulders, looked her in the eye while wiping off her tears and said to her "Olivia, you are SO MUCH MORE than an elocution poem and life isn't about winning or starring in everything, it's about giving it your all and being the best version of yourself you can possibly be and that's exactly what you did, so you're already a winner!". I went on to tell her about Paul McCartney and how he became one of the greatest singers in history (according to me, anyways!) after being told repeatedly that he couldn't even hold a guitar right....she was fascinated, by the way! And all of a sudden all was right in her world...and mine! My beautiful daughter seemed genuinely satisfied with my answer to her suffering and I had unknowingly "fixed" everything, she was happy again and she had no idea how much my heart was hurting just a few minutes before she graced me with a somewhat forced smile that was still accompanied by her slightly less watery eyes...and all of a sudden I realized that we had both learned something out of this experience and that made it all worth it...<3 ..="" nbsp="" p="">And to end on a positive note, I will also share this other meme I found (see below) that seemed to be fitting for the lesson learned... Thank you God for blessing me with such wonderful children, I only ask that you please help me get through those heartbreaking moments so that my kids suffer as little as possible!

                                         

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