He barreled up the stairs, running away from a sibling or cousin. The day had been long, lots of opening presents, lots of laughter with family, lots of activity and excitement. So, when he tripped on the top step, and the emotional explosion was worthy of a greater catastrophe than tripping, I wasn’t surprised. He had reached his emotional max, and all the feelings were spilling out in tears and screams. Oh, he was mad! Mad at his cousin for not sharing! Mad at his sister for keeping her new toy away from him! Mad at the step for being there!
I scooped him up off the floor, held him in my lap, and just let him cry and yell out all those BIG feelings. Normally, I’m so full of my own feelings that I try to curtail the emotional upheaval of my children, but today we had given ourselves space. We spread out the family meals, the present opening, and the excitement over two days, and surprisingly, there was not only space in the day, but there was space inside of me. There was space for my six-year-old’s distress. And as it bubbled over, I remained at peace because I wasn’t already so full of my own distress.
As women, our bodies are designed to make physical space for our children as they grow in our womb and stretch our capacity for a new human body. And too, I believe, our hearts and lives stretch open with each new day making more and more space for our growing children—for their feelings, and projects, and big ideas. We are learning how to leave space in our days for their lives to grow and develop and mature. They start to take up our space, and surprisingly, there’s peace when there’s not too much of me, because there’s space for them.
His anger dissipated as I reaffirmed his feelings. Yes, it wasn’t fair. Yes, his siblings should be kind. Yes, his toe probably did hurt a lot. And when it was all over, his peace returned. He thanked me for letting him cry and apologized for getting so angry. That was a proud mama moment for me, a small victory in motherhood. He knew that I had space for him today no matter what.