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The Things No One Ever Talks About

Posted by Jen on February 11, 2009 at 7:00 AM in GiveawayJen
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at the table

To be perfectly honest, our family has been going through a hard time over the last year. Old bonds that once felt bedrock have fallen on more difficult times, and we are each in our own ways feeling the pain of unsolved problems and shifting expectations and roles. If you've ever had a major upset in your own family, you know exactly how painful a time like this can be. The worst part so often is worrying about your kids and wondering if they are really okay and if your own failure to work through your own problems is ruining them forever.

I know from experience that no one is fooled when you try to put on a good show and that no matter how hard we try as parents to shield our children from every sorrow, it's a mistake to think that our job is to make their lives problem-free. Struggle is a part of being human, and having someone on your side is a gift that can actually heal, especially during times when we feel most alone.

The other night I asked one of my children what was helping the most during this hard time in our family, and what immediately came to the surface was how comforted this child felt in the happy house of a dear friend. All the things missing in our family at the moment were present in the home of another and somehow that kindness was lending comfort and courage. My heart broke knowing I was unable to offer what was needed from our own family, but I told this child with all sincerity how deeply glad I was for this gift of compassion at such an important time. This sweet child of mine drifted off into a peaceful sleep, clearly relieved to confess how much was missing, but also glad to know that I could hold the truth, no matter how hard or how painful it can sometimes be.

It's not everyday I would share a story as personal as this one, but I'm aware today that for every blissed out Supersister there might be another in a secret, quiet struggle. Know today you really aren't alone in this, and that even when times are incredibly hard, our love for our children and our humility around our failures are offerings more powerful than we can begin to imagine.


Activity CardsNo matter what is going on at your house, you can still leave a comment to be entered into our SuperSister Valentine Giveaway. Grand prize winners will receive a fancy schmancy HP Wireless Printer with all the bells and whistles or one highly coveted SweetPeace from Graco. Comment today and you could win some lovely ABC cards pictured here. Add your own kind thoughts in the comments and together we'll weave a nice thread of encouragement for everyone today who needs it most. And before I forget, the winner of yesterday's giveaway is Libby!


Missy K writes...

This is a lovely, hard, beautiful, painful post.

I think the word "humility" is so key. That's what's required to give your kids permission to seek what they might need in a wider world than your home. And accepting that they can receive blessing elsewhere.

I think, too, that it helps my boys to see me using healthy coping tools during a hard time, like making art, or seeking out a friend who has been through a similar tough time, or prayer or meditation, or some kind of physical practice or exercise,. And then translating what that might look like for them. Not to fix the problems, but to live in the midst of them.

It is really encouraging to me to think that during a different season, maybe we could be part of that for someone else's child too. Like we're just all making this big quilt, and we'll make it through.

Lauren writes...

Such a lovely post, and I'm sorry for the difficult times you are having. We all need to be reminded of how to be respectful and mindful of how our own struggles can effect our children. Great job, Mama!

Carrie writes...

I'm sorry to hear that you guys are going through a rough time. What a blessing to have a place where your daughter can have refuge from everything- I know you'll get through this and will someday be able to provide that same refuge to someone else. hugs to you guys and all the others who are hurting today.

Tracy writes...

Thank you for sharing your struggle Jen. Your words inspire & shed light for us other strugglers out there. Much love & comfort to you & your family. I'm glad you have the kindness of friends to rely on.

Danyelle writes...

Jen, I think you are right on the money about the awareness children have. They know how to read us. they know when something is just not right. I think it is so important for parents to remember that during difficult times. My son is aware that I am going bake to work soon and boy is he making me pay for it. I am trying as best I can to reassure him that even though I am going back to work, I will ALWAYS be there for him. It is hard to make him understand, but I am hoping that I am able to demonstate my promise through my actions. I also have to remind myself that I am doing what is est for me and my family and there is no need to feel guilty. Hang in there, Jen. You are doing great. You have such a powerful spirit. Go SuperSisters!

Sky writes...

I'm sorry for your troubled times. I'm so thankful for my mama friends. They get it, totally. I think because we have that common bond, being mamas.

"Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother's secret hope outlives them all."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Elaine writes...

We've had our fair share of stress around here as well. I'm thinking that's one of the reasons my big kid loves Kindergarten so much. It's predictable, loving, friendly and everything is just her size.

Ruthie Foster says when things get hard, just walk on. You might not know where you're going but you know where you've been. I'm trying to live by that.

Oh I so needed to read this post today since we've been having a hard week in our house too. Despite what is going on, know that children are resilient and that having good coping mechanisms, like being able to seek comfort, from others really is a good thing!

nancy writes...

I'm sorry you are going through a hard time. Here's my favorite quote for things like that:

"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

ann writes...

it is so hard to talk about these things, but at the same time necessary to acknowledge. what a brave and strong person you are for sharing this with us. i know your situation will resonate with many readers and be of comfort and support to them. luckily for me, some of the hard times i recall as a child turned out to be the greatest learning experiences and helped me to become a better person.

kelly writes...

sometimes when we hurt the most, we become like children ourselves-- completely without pretense, and soft, open.

in some ways, our children need to see us like this. it gives dignity to their hurts, their vulnerabilities; it allows them to see that life is many, many things--complex, joyous, trying, beautiful--and that we can live into the fullness of all those things. and that it is perfectly alright to be messy and funny-looking and awkward as we do it.

it allows them to see that life is not about arriving at the fairy tale ending; rather, it is about treading through the world authentically, visibly, courageously, and in connection with each other.

trena writes...

Speaking as someone who once spent alot of time in a house that was extremely disfunctional for a long time, you're already doing an amazing thing for your kids by talking about things instead of trying to avoid the elephant(s) in the room. It's so much scarier when you know something is wrong and no one will acknowledge it. That's wonderful though that your child has somewhere that's a great comfort/safe place for them as well--it makes healing the hurts (and being able to get over them instead of still holding on to the unhappiness 10-20 years later) easier. Warm thoughts as things work their way out.

The Bearded Lady writes...

Thank you for your honesty!! I think we are bombarded with the messages that we must ALWAYS have a brave face on and it is exhausting!!

When we present our hard times with humility and honesty it touches the lives of others in ways we will not know! It also opens the door for others to help us in our struggles.

Most importantly, it teaches our children invaluable lessons.

Johannah B writes...

So sorry about your "hard" stretch -- but you know you are also in a great teaching situation there! I mean nothing in this world is so perfect that it never sees a bump or two or three. We used to scare our kids to death if we argued ~~ because we argued only about once every 5 years or so (so they never remembered the last time, by the time the next argument came along!) They kept asking if we were getting a divorce... and it used to strike me as "funny" but you know that's how they thought people got divorced - they just had an argument one day, and it was over.

We considered our home a refuge from the world. Home was where you were loved unconditionally, always and forever. Where you could be yourself and it was OK, where you could share the truth and we tried to fix whatever it was "together" as a family. It certainly wasn't perfect, but even today when the world hands them something they can't handle - whatever that might be - they come home for the peace they know is waiting there for them.

Eleanor writes...

I don't need to be entered in the drawing, but I do need to tell you (all of you) that some days your entries speak to me as if you are speaking from inside my life. Thank you for yours today, Jen. I am having some struggles right now myself and it's hard knowing how to protect my children from it while also being open and honest with them. So, I keep reading and feel a little more peace because I know I am not alone.

Mir writes...

Jen, someone very wise (and short) once said to me, in an unguarded moment, "It doesn't matter that you couldn't fix it. It mattered that you tried."

They'll be okay. So will you.

andrea writes...

So glad I am reading your beautiful posts Jen! went straight to my heart..

Emily writes...

When my family went through rough patches as a kid, the most important constant was the love that was there for me. That's what you're giving you're little ones and it's making and will always make all the difference!!

Elizabeth Harper writes...

I just saw this post and I was so sorry to read it. I hate that you're all going through this. I know what that heartbreak feels like for a mom...when you wish it all could be different, but it's not all up to you.

Mother love is tough and dealing honestly with family pain is such an important learning stage for children. It's painful, but important. I hope there's healing and joy coming soon for you all.

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