It’s not your job to make someone happy

As parents we often question whether we doing the right thing for our kids.

Do you let them cry it out?

Am I breastfeeding long enough?

Are they spending too much time on the iPad?

Did I give the right consequence?

I feel like I’m constantly questioning myself. Always wondering if I did something I shouldn’t have, or maybe not enough. I go to bed thinking about my day and the goingons, and what I could have done differently.

When you’re a co parent, you question yourself a little more. I know now that I’m divorced I see things a little differently. Now I wonder not only if I’m doing the right thing, but also if what I’m doing is going to rock the boat with the other parent.

We are all doing this blindly. No parent has the single answer that solves the parenting mystery.

Yesterday I had a long, busy day. I came home and was just overwhelmed with trying to get the house tidied, wash the barf laundry from the night before (my youngest caught a stomach bug), I was tired from not sleeping the night before, and I was processing my own feelings about my day. I was clearly frazzled and maybe a little short tempered with the kids.

I was folding laundry and my eldest daughter came to me and said this:

“Mom, is there something I can do to help you feel less stressed…?”

Ugh.

“No honey. I’m sorry. My being frustrated is not your fault.”

“But I want you to be happy. I don’t want you to be upset and stressed…”

I paused.

This was a pivotal moment in my life.

This was the moment when I realized something.

“Avalon, it is not your job to make me happy. Don’t ever feel like me, or anyone, being upset is YOUR fault. It’s not. It’s my fault for making you feel like it’s your fault. Don’t EVER think that you did something wrong. I should never have made you feel like my frustrations were your problem…”

I was displacing my anger and she felt like it was her responsibility to fix it.

I want to raise a strong daughter. One who can feel confident in her skin. One who doesn’t feel the need to fix someone else. She is so grown up and so mature for her age. I quickly forget that she is still only a child.

To feel someone else’s emotions, that’s complex. But to feel them and then want to fix it… that’s a very grown up quality.

It was a reminder for me to keep my emotions in check. For me to not displace my feelings onto others. For me to be stronger. For me to raise a daughter who doesn’t walk into a relationship feeling like it’s her job to make someone happy.

I sat with her and reminded her that she did nothing wrong. She’s wise beyond her years, but there’s still a little child-like essence left in her.

And I’m going to soak it up for as long as I can.

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