I think most people can agree that I am an annoyingly optimistic and happy person. I recently saw a picture of myself without a full tooth smile and I had to look at it twice because I didn’t recognize myself. My kids know that it is rare to see me without my smile, but admittedly, it happens. And it apparently happened last week.
Last Thursday was just a bad day for me. Work was fine, but there was some other ridiculous drama going on that caused me to spend a lot of time talking to my dad (a retired judge), others in the legal field, and just friends who are familiar with the situation. By the time I got home from work I was emotionally exhausted. I drove up my driveway and just sat in my car for a few minutes talking to myself.
“You can do this. Put your smile on and convince the kids you are fine. You got this. You got this….” I slapped the smile on my face and walked into the house. As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I could see my stepdaughter sitting on the floor with the Monopoly board in front of her. She was smiling broadly and said excitedly, “Valerie, come here, quick!” So I walked quickly into the living room and my daughter jumped out from behind the door, arms flailing and screaming. Yes, it was a childish attempt to scare me, but guess what I did? Yep, broke down in tears. I mean, fell ALL TO PIECES.
It was rather embarrassing to see the looks on the faces of my daughter, my stepdaughter and my babysitter. I walked back into the kitchen with tears streaming down my face. Both girls followed me back in the kitchen and were looking at me with a mixture of confusion and concern on their faces. I told them, “I’ve just had a really bad day and you just really scared me…”
They both hugged me and hugged me and were visibly upset over my reaction. By the time Joe walked downstairs we were all laughing about my craziness. I was fine after that, but I have a feeling the girls will think twice before they scare anyone anymore.
Although I may have upset the kids by my reaction, maybe it is good for our kids to see us as human from time to time. Because Joe and I are such happy people, I don’t want the kids to grow up thinking that we are some sort of freaks of nature, because it’s just not possible to be perfectly happy every single day of your life. Things are going to upset us. I also don’t want them to think we are hiding our feelings. We want to focus on good communication in our home rather than living in fear of what someone may or may not be thinking or feeling.
A few weeks ago while we were on vacation, my son was giving me a difficult time, so rather than fly off the handle or ignore him, I asked him to walk outside with me. I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Look, I love you. I have been so excited about this trip and being here with you, but the way you are acting is hurtful. It is making me feel sad to see you act like this. I know you don’t mean to upset me, but this behavior is making you feel bad and it is making me sad. Do you want that?” He quickly apologized, promised to do better and said he did not want me to be upset.
We want the kids to know that we are humans and we have feelings. We want them to see our imperfections and to know that although we are newlyweds and everything is beyond perfect NOW, it may not always be that way and that is okay. It is how we handle the problems we may face that will define us.
The other day both girls were in our room and Joe and I were joking around with each other and one of the girls said, “Uh oh! You better not say that! She may divorce you!” and Joe put both arms around me and hugged me and said, “No way. Divorce is not an option.” I said, “Nope. Not even an option.” And one of them said, “Obviously it IS an option or we all wouldn’t be here right now.” And Joe said, “It’s not an option for US.” You could see how comforting that was to both of the girls. They have had plenty of change, so it’s good for them to know that WE will not change.
We admit to our children that we are not perfect and we have made mistakes… we won’t always be happy and we may not always get along… but they can take comfort in knowing that we will fight for us. We will fight for our family. And that anything is possible through God.
So next time I have had a bad day, I won’t hide it from my kids. I won’t linger in the driveway trying to pull myself together. I will just say, “I’ve had a bad day and I am trying to deal with it. Thanks for loving me in spite of it and I promise I will be back to myself in no time.” I will hug them all a little tighter and through their love my smile will eventually return. We are a family. There is no reason to hide my feelings from those I love most in the world.
God, Love, Communication and Trust – the foundation of our home.
As I told myself in the car… “WE GOT THIS.”