Friday morning, I get the call from my sister-in-law. It’s time. I show up at their house to pick up my niece, Lucy, who will be staying with me while her parents usher in her new baby brother. Lucy is 2-1/2 years old and excited to be spending the day with her Aunt Tracy. My brother straps her in the car seat. I toss her suitcase on the seat beside her and away we go. By Friday evening, around 8:00pm, she is no longer the baby in the family. She has a brother now who is fragile and completely dependent.
Saturday afternoon, she and I go to the hospital to see Mom, Dad and the new baby. Lucy snuggles next to Mom while she breastfeeds the baby. She plays peek-a-boo behind the curtain that shields the hallway door from the room. She gives a small amount of attention to the new member of the family. Dad teaches Lucy how to say her new brother’s name.
Everything seems fine and good until it’s time to leave. The crying starts with putting on her coat and continues nonstop throughout the twenty minute drive home. Back at my house, she tries to eat a snack, tries to play with toys, tries rolling on the yoga mats, but nothing can keep the tears and sadness at bay for long. Finally she climbs in my lap and lets it all out – calling for momma and crying into my shirt until she is just done. There is nothing to say, nothing to do. We don’t even pretend to stop it.
On any given day, Lucy would have accepted her situation in short order, but it wasn’t only the leaving that set her off. No, there was much more to it than that. And even if she’d tried, she couldn’t have explained how she felt. I’ve been there myself—feeling things I can’t quite explain.
Let’s face it; you just can’t reason with emotions. Feelings need to be honored in all of their craziness and confusion. If we consider it, we get these kinds of curveballs all the time and as adults, we try to act like it’s no big deal, but the truth is, life can be confusing. Sometimes it’s tough to know how to deal with things and our feelings rarely help us make sense of it. We want quick and easy answers for how things change, and come and go from our lives, but they often don’t make sense to a two year old, or twenty, forty, even sixty years later.
How do you deal with yourself when you feel confused about life?