I had a conversation with my girl the other day about an upcoming excursion.
‘I’m feeling nervous, and excited, Mummy.’
‘Oh sweetheart,’ I replied, ‘that’s perfectly normal when you try something new. To feel nervous and excited.’
The look of relief on her face when I said that, the way she released her breath, the hug she gave me.
She thought she was supposed to feel just one thing. She couldn’t understand how she had two conflicting emotions.
And I recognise that desire to feel just one emotion. Sometimes it is overwhelming to feel all the feels. But that is reality. That is life.
On my wedding day, the most exciting, happy day of my life, all my emotions weren’t happy. There was a tinge of sadness about leaving my old family and creating a new one. There was anticipation and trepidation intermingled about this new journey called marriage.
There was a mix of emotions, and all were equally valid.
As I raise my two complex little beings, I see how important it is to have conversations about our emotions. That we need to be a family that share all the feels. That we need to be a safe place for big emotions. We need to be honest about the good, the bad, the ugly and the mad.
I can see that it needs to be woven into our family DNA. A sense that it is safe to share all the feelings here. That we won’t ridicule you, or tell you ‘it’s silly to feel that way’. But we will acknowledge and discuss emotions. And when appropriate examine the root cause for feeling that way.
Because emotions like the rest of life don’t fit into one tidy neat box. ‘Oh, today is Tuesday and I feel happy.’ Emotions change with circumstance, or conversations, or even how hungry or tired you are. (Does anyone else get hangry?)
This sort of open conversation about emotions requires honesty. It requires a degree of self-examination that, as parents, we need to model for our children.
Because I want to raise a family where the standard answer to “how are you feeling?” isn’t “good”. I’d rather there be a pause, a think and then some honest conversation.
Join me for the journey,