It’s OK to Cry Over Spilled Milk

We live in a world where the adage “don’t cry over spilled milk” is well-known and religiously lived by. Put on your pretty smile, hold back those tears, and make sure the world knows that your life is perfect. Whether it be Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram we all put forth these beautiful perfect lives for everyone to ooohh and aaahh over while we hide the truth behind closed doors.

It's OK to Cry over Spilled Milk | SmithSquad.com | stuffing your feelings is not healthy

We stuff our feelings, and then feel guilty for ever feeling them in the first place. Well I’m here to give you permission to cry over spilled milk, especially when it is the third cup to be spilled during one meal. Sometimes life is hard and the little things are the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Sometimes a good cry, a listening ear, and an understanding shoulder are exactly what we need.

You see I used to be a chronic stuffer of feelings. I was always cheerful. I was fine. Other people mattered. I didn’t. If my husband wanted to take a family trip to Home Depot, but I was exhausted, I put on my smile and gritted my teeth and was miserable for the next two hours. He never knew. He thought I was enjoying it as much as he was. When he wanted to invite friends over at the last-minute instead of telling him “I’ve had a long hard day and don’t want to entertain” I would simply ask “What should I make for dinner?” When people asked me for favors I always said yes, ALWAYS, even if it was terribly inconvenient or completely ruined my plans. I was building up mountains of resentments every time my needs went unmet, and my poor husband had no idea. He was completely blindsided when I would explode once in a blue moon and just overflow with everything that I had been stuffing down for months, including things that weren’t even remotely his fault. Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments, and boy did I have a lot of them!

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As my frustration and complete burnout from the daily duties of being a mom would overwhelm me I would turn inward. I would eat myself up with mom guilt because I shouldn’t feel this way. The world tells us that we chose this and should love every moment because they grow so fast. I love my kids dearly, and I will do anything for them, but I don’t love changing the 6th poopy diaper for the day, wiping up the tenth cup of spilled milk, dealing with the 1-year-old who once again bit his brother, or having to help referee the three thousandth fight. Instead of getting it out and letting it go I was letting it build up into a boiling pit of lava in my gut. Then a simple whine would set me off and I would be roaring at the children that they must hate me to treat me so horribly and shut myself in my room for a few hours.

Stuffing emotions isn’t healthy. It isn’t right. I don’t care what society says. Life is hard, spilled milk sucks, and it’s ok to cry about it! I have made a commitment to myself to be honest. Now this doesn’t mean I whine and complain all the time and turn into a negative Nelly. That isn’t healthy either. What it means is when my husband proposes a family trip to Home Depot I say “Hun I’m really just too tired and need a break right now.” When I’m having a bad day with the kids I talk to my mom or good friends about my frustrations. I attend a weekly women’s group where we focus on how to truly address and heal our feelings as well as just share with each other and get everything out in the open. I’ve attended Emotionally Focused Therapy sessions with my husband so that we could learn to connect intimately about our feelings without feeling threatened or defensive. I’ve started being honest with my kids and calmly telling them how much their actions hurt my feelings and asking them respectfully to do something different. When people at church or the grocery store ask me how I’m feeling instead of saying “Wonderful!” with a huge smile I give myself permission to say “tired, but doing ok.” When a friend asks me to babysit and it’s just not a good day I’ve learned to say “I’m sorry, but I’ve got other plans.”

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I’m not perfect, I still catch myself stuffing and then exploding. I’m a work in progress, but that’s ok. I can feel my emotional health getting better. I don’t have anywhere near as many resentments towards my husband or others because I don’t have as many unspoken expectations. I’m learning to let go of the mom guilt over not being perfectly cheerful all the time and accept my own full range of emotions. This gives me the power to be more accepting of the emotions of others, especially my own children. I’m learning to accept and even ask for help BEFORE I get burned out and want to explode.

It’s OK to cry over spilled milk. It’s ok to feel. It’s ok to expect love and understanding when we are struggling. It’s ok to seek out help and support because life is hard. You don’t have to do this alone.

What are you doing to create healthy emotional boundaries in your life? Have you been guilty of chronic emotional stuffing like me? What can we do as a society to make emotions more acceptable?

What is a Mother?

I thought it would be fun to ask several of my friends to ask their children “what is a mother?” Here are a few of my favorite responses:

“you!” -said by many

“Someone that takes care of you” -age 6

“A role model” -age 12

“A loving and caring person” -age 10

“She is a person who loves you always (even before you were born) no matter how snotty you act.” -age 8

“Mothers love their children so when they grow up they can be strong. ” -age 4

“A mother is my mom who loves you, takes care of you, teaches you, who is nice, cleans, cooks, she loves me.” -age 10

“A mommy is someone who protects her children, and other ones too.” -age 6

“Someone who takes care of you and loves you” -age 7

“Someone who looks after you, takes care of you, who loves you. Deeply” -age 8

“A mother keeps me safe.” -age 8

“A mother is a person who keeps you safe in your darkest time. She gives you cuddles and she loves you no matter what, no matter what mistakes you do. A mother is the person i love the most.” -age 8

“She helps you when your toe is bloody” -age 3

“A mother loves you so much and she never breaks your heart. She gives you big kisses and big hugs. She teaches you to live happily and helps us.” -age 5

“A mother is a kind, loving lady who wants to take care of her children and make sure they have a good life and makes sure she never loses them.” -age 10

“Someone who takes care of her children and teaches them how to love one another.” -age 8

“Someone who loves and cares for their children. And it doesn’t even matter if it’s their own children or not.” -12

In all the responses I got only a few children said someone who had given birth/was pregnant. Let that sink in a minute. To these children all across the United States a mother is one thing. Love.

I have watched several of my friends and family deal with infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, or have simply not had the opportunity to marry and have children. These beautiful women are some of the most amazing mothers I know. I have watched my best friend snuggle my babies and I am completely serious when I say she is their second mommy. They adore her and I know her heart is full of love for them.

The world needs mothers. The world needs women who will nurture, lead, care for, and love the children around them. The title of Mother is the most noble one that we as women can embrace, and we don’t have to give birth to claim it.

I believe there is Nobility in Motherhood and I believe that the greatest success in life may be someone you raise, not something you do.

Do you believe it too? What do the children in your life say is a mother? I’d love to hear their answers in the comments!

What is Intimacy?

Intimacy.

Often people hear that word and think “sex” and nothing more. To me, however, intimate is a word that oozes vulnerability, openness, communication, and so many more things that many of us struggle with. It is something I struggle with. Something I desperately desire and yet still shy away from. Intimacy is something that can fulfill and enrich our lives or something that can rip us apart.

My marriage has always been a struggle. I know that every relationship has its ups and downs, but ours has been especially rocky. In the last week I have thought that it was not going to survive. As my husband and I have both sought outside help for our problems I have come to believe that the lack of true intimacy is the root of most if not all of our difficulties.

Intimacy is about connecting with someone emotionally and spiritually. It is not about merely sharing positive feelings or having a great sexual connection. Intimacy means finding security in a relationship that allows you to share all of your feelings, including fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, joy, hope, and so forth. In an intimate and safe relationship, you trust that when you do share, you will not be abandoned, criticized, or judged. That is a huge vision for what a relationship can be — and such a relationship can take a lifetime of training to develop.

Debra Laaser

Why is true intimacy so difficult to achieve? Because when you truly let someone you care about into the deepest parts of your heart and they reject, judge, or criticize what they see it hurts. It is a brutal gut wrenching pain. It can destroy you if you let it. Because of this, we all put walls around our hearts. Some of us have a chain link fence that offers a small amount of protection, but welcomes in most who are interested. Most of us have a 30 foot tall x 10 foot thick wall with barbed wire and vats of boiling oil on top. We then surround it by a moat filled with alligators!

A few days ago my husband and I stayed up until 5 in the morning talking, slept a few hours, then talked all morning until he had to leave for work that afternoon. We laid it all out on the table. We were raw. We were brutally honest. We were truly intimate. There were times when I wanted to climb back behind my alligators, and times where frankly I wanted to shove him in the moat with them, but we pushed through. At the end I was completely emotionally drained, exhausted, and numb. In that moment I had the first glimmer of hope that maybe we can fix this mess that we are in. We both need to seek individual growth, but at the end of the day the thing that will save our marriage won’t be anything either of us does individually. Our marriage can only be saved if we embrace those intimate moments where in the past we have so often walled each other out.

True intimacy isn’t only for marriages. Every relationship worth having requires a certain level of intimacy. It is through open honest communication that bonds are formed which keep us strong. The more we open the deepest parts of ourselves to people we love and trust the stronger we are. When we are authentic with those who are closest to us we are able to extend that authenticity to every relationship in our lives. When someone rejects our true self its ok, because we have the support of those inside our wall to remind us that we are amazing, valuable, and worthy.

I want to help you celebrate this intimacy and authenticity in your family. I want to help you remember those little moments that draw you closer and make you stronger. I want your children to sit down years from now with a book of images that tell a story of love and acceptance. I want them to look at the walls in your home and see the moments that tell them “you are valuable; you are enough; you are loved”. This is why I do lifestyle and documentary photography.

If you are ready to preserve these intimate memories for your family please contact me and let me help you tell your story.

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