I was going to come on here and say that I had an epiphany today, but that's not exactly right. What occurred to me has occurred to me before...it's just that I feel like I understand it a little better every time it makes a comeback...so, I dub it the "gradual epiphany."
Here it is.
I cannot control how my children experience life. (I know, it's mind-boggling).
Before we moved, I felt very responsible to make the transition as easy on the kids as possible. I did not (bless the Lord) make the grave mistake of telling them that everything would be wonderful all the time - that life would magically become amazing as soon as we got to Virginia. No. I was pretty honest about there being difficult times and taking time to adjust, etc. I did, however, take the burden of their emotional response onto my own shoulders. In fact, I recently realized that I have been doing this for most of their lives.
Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that if something difficult was going on in one of their lives, my job was, not necessarily to make it better (because, let's be honest, I had to admit early on that that can't always be done), but at least to make it FEEL better.
That seems reasonable, I mean what parent likes to see their child sad or upset or overwhelmed or stressed out?
But, trying to magically fix their emotions: 1. doesn't work, 2. makes them feel bad for having emotions in the first place, and 3. doesn't make the problem go away.
The high school the girls go to does block scheduling, so that basically means that they get 4 brand new classes at the semester. Originally, I thought it was pretty cool and it is... on paper. But, what I didn't realize was that meant they would essentially have another first day of school in January. New schedule, new teachers, different lunch...starting over.
It wasn't as hard as the first day of school in August, but yesterday was a pretty rough day. I learned, though, between then and now. Back in August, I was all in cheerleader mode, "it wasn't so bad! you don't feel nervous or scared! pretty soon life will be grand! Rah, rah, rah!" Not effective. Also, not true.
So, yesterday, I tried a different approach. "I'm sorry your day was so stressful. It sucks that you have 2nd lunch and the people you used to sit with have 3rd lunch. Yah, I would be pretty upset too. Hey, even God gets angry - the Bible says so. It won't get better over night, just keep putting one foot in front of the other."
I don't know if it helped them anymore, but it sure felt better to me. I don't need to worry that because they have a bad day, or week, or season, that they will be irreparably damaged. It is unrealistic to try to keep them from ever feeling negative emotions. My honesty and sincere empathy go a lot further than my "it's all fine" facade.
I pray day 2 was a bit easier on them.