We All Have Emotions to Manage

Desert Flowers

Notes from Jen

We All Have Emotions to Manage.

Time flies. In 2019, we moved back to New Mexico with a 9-month-old, and this Spring, Ryker will turn 6 years old. Both of our kids are out of diapers. Both kids attend school. We celebrated the removal of the child-proofing gadgets from the kitchen cabinets and light sockets. The last of the baby-toddler equipment has been donated or passed on to friends embarking on growing their own family, and we are now signing our kids up for after-school activities. Justin and I are striding into the next chapter.

As an adult, I find transitioning between and reflecting on life seasons sparks a spectrum of emotions. I look back at my babies’ photos wistfully and long to breathe in that sweet baby smell again. I bubble up with frustration when I see adorable crayon drawings on the playroom wall. I hang my kids’ artwork on the refrigerator with pride. I worry about the quality of their education. I am conflicted about continuing with an au pair and working full time in a demanding job. I grieve that my parents may not see my children get married. I smile with amusement when my daughter skips out to our living room in her dress-up clothes and admires her reflection in the sliding glass door as she dances each evening. I feel blessed, but fear I am not doing enough as their mom.

Ryker and Aviva celebrating St. Valentine’s Day.

Ryker and Aviva celebrating St. Valentine’s Day.

Managing the swirl of daily emotions is a lot—especially with kids on top of working a taxing job, owning small businesses, and helping care for my aging parents. To manage my thrilling but demanding life, I have found that I must manage my emotions or I will be managed by them. I am intentional about improving my emotional intelligence to help minimize getting swallowed up in the chaos of parenting and just day-to-day adulting. There is much we do not have control over but we do have control of how we respond to others and situations.

Over the years, I’ve learned some tips that I have found helpful, like naming my emotions timely and understanding what triggered them. Recognizing how being tired, hungry or stressed amplifies my emotions. Slow deep breathing during difficult situations keeps me thinking logically and helps me redirect the flow of my emotions. Pausing in the moment and reflecting on the situation including taking time to pray, meditate, sleep, eat, take a nature walk, or write before responding to a situation. To fully process my emotions, I am blessed with a handful of friends that I trust deeply and ask them to speak into my life during the most difficult of times. Whether with friends, family or colleagues, I am also intentional about identifying the emotions of others as we move forward together in conversation and collaboration. My ability to empathize with others helps me foster a stronger understanding, which then helps me navigate the situation.

As my children grow, they too are learning how to identify their emotions and as a parent, I get to help them process them, which has led to me to understanding my children in a more meaningful way. My daughter earned a time out one Saturday afternoon after she spit in her brother’s face. As I sat her down on her bed for the five-minute time out, she snarled, “I’m angry.” I asked her what made her angry, to which she explained that a boy at school spit at her and after telling her teacher, he did not get a time out. She was angry that she was being punished when he was not, even though they committed the same naughty act. And just like that, at such a young age, she learned that life is not fair.

We talked through the boy situation at school. I validated her feelings about this time out inequity, and I coached her how to handle the situation if it happened again. Explaining to a 4-year-old the difference between right and wrong, how our actions hurt others, and why we should choose to do the right thing even when others do not and go unpunished was hard to break down into words she understood, but she wanted to understand, desperately. As I sat on her bed staring into her glassy hazel eyes, my heart swelled with love as I imagined the many more talks like this I’d have with my children in the years to come.

Ryker and Aviva

We are human, not robots. We have bad days, weeks, and sometimes years. And how we decide to deal with the bad times and difficult situations is what builds our emotional stamina. It’s the commitment to practicing coping mechanisms. It’s the strength of those you choose to be your people, speaking wisdom and perspective into your life. When our emotions swirl and rage, learning to stay calm and manage your feelings is a skill. Taking the time to process the situation to respond most productively can be really hard but incredibly healthy for your soul and for others.

I sobbed the other day. I had personal stuff going on, work highs and lows, family concerns; the world just kept on giving me one challenge after another within a 48-hour period which just compounded because I didn’t pause; I didn’t process. I didn’t practice selfcare. I was tired, stressed, hungry, and did I say tired? I surrendered to my inability to manage it all on my own. I called my dear friend, and she found me in minutes. She arrived with a tissue box, a warm hug, and discernment. Her perspective of the situation justified my feelings. Her calming effect allowed me to hear her logic. I could feel my body relax and my heart beat slow down. I started to think more logically. As she passed me off to two other dear friends who took me to dinner and then home to get some much needed sleep, she said, “We got you.”

I woke up the next morning still worn down but rested. I felt a little ashamed because I don’t break down like that often. What in the world happened? I allowed frustration and disappointment to consume me. I didn’t take the needed time to process my emotions and the various situations over the past 48 hours. I didn’t do self care. And to top it off, I allowed myself to become tired, stressed and hungry which amplified my emotions. Motivated to control what I could, I got out of bed and immediately put some protein bars in my purse. Justin gave me a long hug and handed me a cup of strong, steaming coffee with a touch of milk. I looked at my phone, and there were several heartfelt, encouraging text messages from dear friends who knew I was struggling. I prayed, thanked my friends, and took a chilly walk around the neighborhood with my dog. Thanks to my husband, friends, and grit, I snapped out of it, and it was time to move on.

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