In all those personality assessments and evaluations, I rank high in empathy. It's been recorded as one of my top "strengths" too. In friendships, my marriage, as a teacher and coach I can see myself using empathy in multiple circumstances daily. Why then, when it comes to my own children's daily stomach ailments and complaints, that I clench my teeth, roll my eyes and need to count to 10, in order to stay calm and be empathic? Shouldn't my "gift" of empathy and my natural motherly instincts want to help my child work through their discomfort? This baffles me. Maybe it's because, I have offered suggestions to help over the past 5 years, and the children look at me like it was the dumbest suggestion they've ever heard. It's the same list of questions every time- do you need to go #2? Are you hungry? What did you eat today? Are you thirsty? When did it start hurting?...
I can't fix stomach aches, so I don't know how to be kind about stomach aches. Half the time, I think it's an excuse to get out of school, homework, or a reason they hit their brother or sister.
Lately, the questions haven't come, and I have offered no suggestions to making it better, all I say is- "Too bad!" or "You'll be fine!" I feel terrible about disregarding their feelings, even it is just a daily stomach ache.
It's just a daily stomach now. Will it be something bigger later, and I miss it because I've been so annoyed with the present "non-existent" issue? I fear they are losing confidence in me as their mother because of my unwillingness to reach out and help them at this young age. When they need me for something bigger later in life, I fear they will assume I won't be "empathetic" or helpful because of the historical pattern, and it could cause them greater harm. And I will miss out on knowing them and being involved with their lives in the way that I've always hoped.
It's one of my goals for 2011 to be a more empathic, more loving, and louder cheerleader for my children- if I don't, who will?