February 15, 2018

12 Things To Say To Your Kids When They're Disappointed

When I was a senior in high school, I wanted to be Cinderella more than anything in the world.

Actually, I wanted to play the role of Cinderella in our high school production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Actually, I wanted to land the lead in a musical.

As a senior, this was my last shot at the coveted top role--my ultimate chance at the big dressing room and the final curtain call. The two years prior, I'd been thrilled to play second leading-lady parts (Lady Larkin in Once Upon a Mattress and Kim in Bye-Bye Birdie, if you're just dying to know). But I'd never scored THE lead. And I wanted it. 

I took care of the audition and waited for the cast list to be posted. And there it was, at the top, across from "Cinderella." 

Not. My. Name.

At the time, I thought being bitterly disappointed personally was pretty much the worst thing that could happen. Now, as a mom, I know that the only thing worse is watching your child suffer that kind of letdown.

If when disappointment makes an appearance in your house, here are a few words that might ease the sting a little. 

1. I'm sorry. 

When I say this to my daughters in this kind of setting, they usually respond, "It's not your fault." And I tell them, "I'm not sorry because this is my fault; I'm sorry because when you're hurting, I'm hurting. I'm sorry because I wish you didn't have to feel this way."

2. It's okay to feel sad. 

Our society prizes and favors cheerful optimism above all else, so sometimes our kids need permission and guidance to spend some time in sadness when it's appropriate. And it's also okay to show your own mom emotions to your kids, to let them know they are not alone in what they want and in hurting when it doesn't happen. When my sister had to tell my oldest niece that she hadn't gotten a part she wanted in a musical production (like aunt, like niece), my sister didn't have to say a word: she burst into tears the minute she saw her daughter. 

3. You don't have to get over this right away. 

As moms, we fix things. We make things better. We solve problems. But when our kids are dealing with disappointment, we need to let them feel what they feel for a while. We need to wait with them while they walk through--not around--seasons of regret and unmet expectations.

4. The way things are can be different from what you were hoping and still be good. 

As it turned out, the role I DID get all those years ago--the ironically named wicked stepsister Joy--was my dream role even though it was not the role I'd dreamed of. It was typecasting, really: all I had to do to play the part was be myself in exaggerated form while wearing a shiny purple ballgown and a black hair bow so enormous it almost took over my head. I'd never had so much fun in my life. It was different from what I thought I wanted, but it was still good. In fact, it was better.

All of which fueled my conviction the other day when I passed along this particular bit of counsel--"the way things are can be different from what you were hoping and still be good"--to my college freshman. Whereas I lived for choir and the annual musical all through high school, my firstborn lived for band. Starting the first day of fifth grade and continuing literally until she walked off the graduation field, band was who she was. It was what got her through. So we were thrilled when the college she chose offered a small, friendly, low-commitment band very much open to non-music majors. After the first rehearsal of second semester, though, when I asked how it had gone, she said, "I don't know...I'm not enjoying it the way I thought I would." I told her that she had loved high school band so much that anything else was almost certain to be a letdown. I advised her to try to enjoy her new band for what it was...that it could be a good experience even if it was different from what she was expecting. (I didn't have to haul out my Cinderella story just then, but I keep it on hand at all times for just this kind of mom moment, and you can believe my daughters have heard it before.)

5. Just because this didn't work out now doesn't mean it won't ever work out.

Maybe you weren't ready. Maybe this wasn't the right time. But maybe a little ways down the road, you will be, and it will be.

6. Do you want to try again?

Do you want to reload and give it another chance?

7. If you do want to try again, what can you do to prepare for that? 

What action can you take now to get ready for then?

8. Do you want to just be done with this?

Our culture is big on "never give up." And "quit" really is considered a four-letter word. But as parents, we need wisdom to know when love for our kids looks like giving them our blessing to let something go. 

9. What are you looking forward to?

We don't want to rush our kids through seasons of disappointment (see #3, above), but encouraging them to anticipate something good down the road can help with the healing.

10. I'm proud of you for giving this a shot.

Whether "this" is a relationship or a hobby or a competition or anything else that requires effort and risk, there is something to be celebrated just in the doing and the trying.

11. Do you want some ice cream? 

A recurring theme in our house (see #13 on this post). At the end of my Disappointment Day, my friends Amy and Jenny (the newly cast wicked stepmother and the other stepsister, respectively) hauled my weepy self down the street to our local ice cream shop. An hour and two scoops later, I'd had my perspective adjusted and was looking forward (ish) to hamming it up with those very funny other not-leading ladies.

12. I love you.

It's what we say as moms when we don't know what else to say and even when we do know what else to say. Because it's the beginning and the end and the foundation for everything worth saying in between.

Me (in the purple) as the stepsister Joy...
the role I didn't know I wanted.

**This post may have been shared at some of these blog link parties.**

February 13, 2018

17 Things I Love About Having a Daughter (A Very Incomplete List)

I'm a mom of daughters and only daughters.

By “only,” I don't mean there's anything missing or lacking or incomplete about our family. I just mean that all (two) of the children given to my husband and me are of the girl variety.

I don’t know what it’s like to have boys running around the house, yelling and climbing on things and jumping off things and tackling things and wrestling each other and having bodily-noise contests.

I’ll never know what it’s like to have a strong, strapping son who’s protective of his mama and walks me down the aisle when he gets married.

But oh, I do know what it's like to have daughters.

I'm grateful to Her View From Home for letting me share this little ode to daughters. I'd love to have you take the quick trip over there to read the rest of it. If you're the mom of a daughter, maybe something on this list is something you know and love, too.