We are really big on validating emotions in our family. We really want Luka to feel like it’s ok to feel sad and it’s ok to cry. There is no shame in having big feelings. He doesn’t need to shrink or reduce his response to life around him so that we can feel more comfortable. Because of this, I’ve avoided phrases like “it’s okay” and “you’re alright” because although both those statements are true and we say them in a well-meaning reassuring way, it also kind of says “there’s no need to be sad’’. And who am I to dictate how he feels? I try to say things like “you’re feeling sad. That bump to the head really hurt. I’m right here with you. I’ve got you.”And I thought I was doing pretty well with Luka’s big emotions – turns out I’ve still got some cr*p to work through!

I’m starting to realise that I’m comfortable with Luka having big emotions if it is isolated to a specific event: nappy changes, getting dressed, being overtired, getting dry after a bath or hurting himself. I’m all good to go with those. I can understand and sympathise. I know why he’s feeling sad. There’s some reasoning and logic to it all.But if his emotions are unexplainable – apparently I’m not so great at that. The last two weeks Luka has been sad A LOT. He’s been unhappy playing independently during the day and just wanting to be held. Night time has been filled with tears, and sometimes it seemed like holding him close just wasn’t enough either. Originally I thought it was teeth. After one particularly rough night, I was convinced I’d see a tooth. But nope, nothing. Sore tummy from introducing solids? We stopped solids for a few days. Then he developed a rash – doctor thought maybe something viral? But he has no other symptoms. Maybe a growth spurt or ‘wonder week’? It could be all of the above or none. And I’ve found it so hard not knowing.Of course my Mumma heart wants to be able to fix it, because I don’t want him to be in pain. But I also realised that I desperately wanted to know the reason for Luka’s emotions. I needed them to feel legitimate for me to freely access compassion.Legitimate.That’s an interesting word.It seemed to pop up in a recent counselling session too.Turns out I characterise my feelings into legitimate and illegitimate.I was a very sensitive child and teenager. I felt things deeply and there were definitely times where I felt like my emotions – and my tears – were ‘too much’. Not necessarily too much for my parents, but too much for society. No one likes a drama queen, right?I’ve spent a lot of time becoming friends with my emotions, friends with my tears. I can now love myself when I’m sad instead of feel like I need to hide my tears. I can tell myself: it’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel disappointed. It’s ok to feel frustrated that that situation didn’t turn out how you hoped. I’ve come a long way with being comfortable with all of that.But – SURPRISE – there’s more layers. I can get comfortable with my emotions when I know it’s ‘reasonable’ or ‘acceptable’ to feel disappointed about that certain situation. Perhaps I might feel more disappointed, or cry more than someone else might in the same situation, but it’snormal’ to feel disappointed when something you were looking forward to didn’t happen.But perhaps I feel unseen or unloved by something someone said or did. I know that emotion is real, but logically I know that it is based on assumptions about someone else’s motives. So I tell myself truth: it’s not a reflection of you. It’s not about you. They love you and care about you. I’m sure they weren’t meaning to make you feel unseen.And this is great. It’s so important to speak truth. Living a life making assumptions about others is just a recipe for resentment and bitterness. It’s always a good idea to assume the best. And that’s what I seek to do. I don’t think I need to change that. I need to keep speaking truth to lies of insecurity and unworthiness that still seem to linger in my heart.But, what if there was a step before that? What if before I went straight to speaking truth – I got comfy with that feeling. I’m beginning to realise that I rush to flip the narrative because I feel like I’m being a drama queen. “Emma – it’s stupid to think like that. You know that’s not true. You’re just making this situation about you. Not everything is about you. You’re just being dramatic. You’re overreacting. This is not a ‘legitimate’ feeling.”Is that not just telling myself there’s no reason to be sad? And am I telling myself that to remain positive? Or to avoid a feeling of shame?For me, it’s both. But shame is definitely there.So I’ve been thinking – is there really such a thing as an illegitimate feeling? Feelings are feelings. Maybe it’s ok to get comfortable with all of them. Obviously, I’m not saying that you should live dictated by your emotions. It’s important not to get stuck in disappointment and sadness. You can still work through each emotion and end up at truth. But the journey is different – it’s going through the emotion instead of around.I’m beginning to wonder that if I can accept the emotions that feel ‘bad’ and ‘unnecessary’, and shake off shame, perhaps it will be easier to accept Luka will have emotions I cannot explain – emotions I cannot divide into legitimate and illegitimate. There’s only good. Only legitimate. I can sit with him in it. I can help him through it. I don’t need to control it or ‘fix’ it, because often that just means finding an alternative route. I don’t need to find things that will distract him from his sadness or frustration, I can be right there with him as he walks through it.

So that’s what we’re working on right now – just another day in the Seed household embracing tears.

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