Mom and blogger Kathleen Fleming recently had an impactful experience with her young son. In a fit of anger, he slammed the bathroom door with such force that the bathroom mirror fell down and shattered to pieces all over the floor.
It might seem like an appropriate reaction for a parent would be to punish their child for such a destructive behavior. But instead of reacting with more anger… Kathleen decided to respond differently.
Here is Kathleen’s post about what she experienced with her son that day.
This was my hallway last Wednesday.
Broken. Sharp. Treacherous.
This was my hallway.
It was my son who did this.
Sometimes, often really, things break – irreparably. And it takes your breath away… straight away.
It took my breath away when my son stormed into the bathroom, frustrated, angry, fed-up for his very own, very significant to him, reasons. And when he chose to SLAM the bathroom door, causing the heavy mirror mounted to the front to slip out of the hardware holding it in place and crash onto the floor – a million, BROKEN pieces were left reflecting the afternoon light.
I was quiet. I surveyed the damage and took a deep breath. Put the dog outside so he wouldn’t cut his feet, put the cat in the basement for the same reason.
I walked into the backyard and felt the hot tears streaming down my face. It’s amazing how alone you can feel as a single parent in moments like these. I realized how scared and disappointed I felt. Did this really just happen? Yes. This was real.
And as I stood and considered whether or not this was an indication of his developing character, I heard his tears through the window above me, coming from inside the bathroom.
His soul hurt. This was not what he expected either. Hello, Anger – I don’t remember inviting you into my house.
Deep breath, #MamaWarrior. Deep breath. That small, fragile soul needs you right now. He needs your very best. Your biggest compassion. Your most gentle and firm mama love and reassurance. More deep breaths. Go Mama.
Go. Go now. Go open the front door, tiptoe through the broken glass, hear him hearing you coming, watch the bathroom door crack open, see the face you love most in the world red with worry and wet with tears, his voice is suddenly so small: “Mama, I’ll never do it again, I am SO sorry.” More tears. More weeping. Such uncertainty on his sweet face.
Go Mama. Get him. Go now. Scoop him into your lap. Yup, you’re crying too. Damn this was big. Hold him tight. Watch how he curls into a ball in your arms so quickly. See how eager he is to be loved by you. To be reassured by you. See how small he still is. See how fragile that spirit is.
I love you.
You are safe.
I am right here.
The worst part is over now.
I’ve got you.
I love you.
Go Mama. Tell him about Anger. Tell him now. Anger is a really powerful feeling. You have a right to your Anger. Anger burns hot. It can purify. It can also destroy. He nods. He feels it. He’s met Anger now.
There’s a better way to show your big feelings.
We’ll work on it together… tomorrow.
I’m here to help you.
You are safe.
You are never alone in your anger.
You are never alone in your fears.
I’m here. We’re here together.
Now we will clean together.
And we cleaned up the broken pieces. We swept and we vacuumed. It was quiet work. It was careful work. It was thoughtful work.
Sometimes things break. Sometimes we break them. It’s not the breaking that matters, the how or why. What matters is how we choose to respond to the broken-ness. Does it kill us? Does it throw us into a downward spiral of blame and punishment?
Does it help us remember how to love deepest? Does it push us towards compassion and over the hurdle of “rightness” and “wrongness” into LOVENESS?
Go Mama. Go now. Get that baby of yours. Teach that. Show that. Live that. It’s called LOVENESS. Go. Now.
Beautiful, isn’t it? Instead of adding more fire to the fuel, Kathleen answered the call to the emotional distress signal that her son’s outburst truly was. She guided and supported her child through the very real and important lesson of navigating ones emotion with awareness, compassion and understanding.
THIS is what we need in this world. Environments that encourage a healthy relationship with our emotions rather than learning how to suppress and hide them. Because in the end… suppressed emotions only end up flaring up later in even more destructive ways.
Hope you enjoyed this example of love and compassion as much as I did!