It was amid the chaos of the bedtime routine here last week that I heard the words every mother of a daughter will here at some point in her parenting journey:
“Mama, nobody listens to me, understands me or believes me! Ever!”
The “nobody understands me” line took me off guard. It came from the mouth of my almost five-year-old and to be honest, I thought I had a few more years.
New bedtime stalling tactic – or the true sign of an emotionally intelligent woman in the making? I knew not, but I wasn’t going to take the opportunity to emotionally scare my daughter with a poor response. Not this time anyway. As a melancholic myself, I’ll never risk it.
“Well, why don’t you try mama,” I said. “You can always tell mama.”
“I’m sick of sharing a room with Anna right now, I just can’t sleep with someone in the same room as me tonight,” she said. “I need alone time to rest my thoughts.”
My smile was too big to hide. I wanted to laugh at her, cry for her, and scoop her up and kiss every inch of her. I don’t think I’ve been more proud as a mother. There was no crying, no fits, no hysterical fighting for an unknown reason. Just a simple “I need.”
How many bad moods, unkind words and nights of drowning my emotional sorrows in wasted hours of bad reality TV could I save myself if I was able to say, “I need,” as my almost five-year-old had just done?
There’s been a lot on my plate this fall. Too much. With pregnancy and another health issue showing its head – most of my loved ones have demanded I re-evaluate. I’ve ignored them, and similar suggestions from healthcare professionals. All because I can’t re-evaluate, I have to do everything I do.
I’m not the first women to feel as though she can’t empty her plate. “I can’t do this,” and “I must do that,” always find a way to outweigh “I need.”
On this night I gave my daughter a book, some space on mama and daddy’s bed and an extra half hour past bedtime for her to do with as she pleased – all by herself.
While she enjoyed her alone time and a book, I closed the computer and allowed myself to need what was always the best medicine for me as a child; a book of my own.
I still read as much now as I did as a young bookworm, but I’ve found a way to turn my escape into work – I’ve reached the point of only reading research for one project or another. On this night, I opened my first piece of fiction in months. I needed it, and it was lovely.
Nobody understands me. It’s a thought that crosses my mind often. There is some truth there. But maybe I too just need a little time to “rest my thoughts” and see that nobody understands me really means that I’m not listening to myself.
Maybe my daughter didn’t want to go to bed and she pulled the wool over my eyes. I care not. If she got me, she got me.
There’s one thing I do know, I will always encourage and support my daughters in saying, “I need.” And all four of them will know they can always tell mama.
Copyright 2o12 Holly Rutchik