Updated: Sep 21, 2021
This is a short, sharp and perhaps not a sweet post. But I need to write it now while I can.
Children are the ultimate master of disguise. They often appear to be perfectly happy, perfectly untouched by circumstances, that we take it as gospel and don’t probe further than that. Why? maybe we’re fearful of what we might hear? Who knows.
I’ve spent the last two days head deep in work, my children apparently oblivious whilst they play happily. And if I hadn‘t spoken out loud and apologised for my absence and not finishing work as early as I had hoped, I might never have realised how they were really feeling.
My youngest son said to me, after my mumbling apology; "It's ok mom. But it will be better when you're not so busy, and when you're not so tired". I felt terribly guilty in that moment and realised, that just because they appear ok on the outside, doesn't mean that's how they feel on the inside.
This realisation was even more glaringly obvious, when I thought about our recent conversations at the dinner table. We make a point of eating dinner together at the dining table and we each take turns to talk about our day. Out of the blue, I decided to ask them how they were feeling about lockdown. I hadn't thought to ask before then because they seemed absolutely fine with it all. There was no real reason to ask either, I wasn't concerned. But I should have been. The answer I got wasn't what I expected.
My youngest son told me he felt scared. He was worried about people dying and didn't want anyone in the family to die. My oldest son missed his friends and felt sad that he couldn't see them. I was honestly blown away. I felt like I had been letting them down. Why hadn't I been asking them about this? Why had I just been assuming they were ok? Like I say, children are the master of disguise. They do a great job of holding it altogether whilst us grown-up's are quite often falling apart. We decided tother and then to talk about the effects of lockdown at least every other night from now on.
My point is, to ask the question, even if you don't think it needs asking. If you get an answer you wasn't expecting, listen to them. Take the time, no matter how busy you are, to well and truly listen to what they are saying. Drop your phone, peel your eyes off the TV, stop stirring the pasta and just listen.