“Are you cold?”
“Are you lonely?”
“Do you need more friends?”
These are all things I’ve asked my kids, at one time or another. They are my feeble way of trying to preemptively solve problems. To be Magic Mom and right wrongs before they happen.
But whose “wrong” are we righting here? I’ve only been a mom for eight years, but I’m noticing a distinct pattern of me actively trying to head off challenges my kids might face. The pattern itself isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem lies in how I identify these issues — and how I voice them.
More often than not, when I’m worried about my kids feeling lonely… it’s because I’m feeling lonely. Or because I remember feeling lonely in their specific situation. Or because I think I might feel lonely, in their situation.
But as much as I’d like to feel all their feelings for them, I can’t. And definitely shouldn’t. Nor should I always voice all of these worries, thus recording myself into my kids’ subconscious and becoming That Voice, playing fearful, worrisome messages on repeat into eternity. (We all have That Voice…)
My kids don’t need preemptive empathy. They don’t need someone pointing out how they might possibly feel a negative emotion or encounter a hard thing, when they haven’t yet crossed that bridge.
Rather, my energies are better used modeling how to find joy and peace in this present moment and responding with empathy in real-time, as my kids choose to share their inner worlds with me.
How often I rob the joy out of a perfectly good moment by turning all my energy toward planning for what may happen. What a terrible, tragic waste in a world where joy and peace are just about the most precious, elusive treasures.
Especially when I’m assured I’ll receive any tools or words I might need to face down any giant — emotional or physical — just precisely when I need them. And not a second before.