T and CAs a result of (insert unjustification-of-the-day here), I see a blur of yellow and black barreling straight for my third eye as my three-year-old hurls his dump truck at me.

While I’m rubbing the tire impressions out of my forehead, an empathetic mom witnessing the incident asks, “Are you okay?”

I plaster on a smile, glance her way and blurt out, “I’m good, thanks!”

Teary-eyed, I turn back to my son, attempting to channel my inner Susan, and calm the storm. Clearly not okay, I find myself wondering, why did I just lie to that mom, denying my feelings of anger, anxiety and helplessness?  Here I am, acknowledging, accepting and respecting my son’s angry feelings, but pushing my own away.  

“Underneath my outside face                                                                                                                  
There’s a face that none can see.                                                                                                             
A little less smiley,                                                                                                                                       
A little less sure,                                                                                                                                        
But a whole lot more like me.”
– Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It

I would venture to say that most parents (especially the female variety) do the same thing.  We allow our children to feel their emotions, but do we do that with ourselves?  Do we respect ourselves enough to accept and acknowledge our own feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and loneliness?   

“Emotionally healthy parents are not saints. They’re aware of their anger & respect it…. Their words are congruent with their feelings. They do not hide their feelings” – Haim G. Ginot, Between Parent & Child

a mom and her sons

With the help of weekly Sunflower Creative Arts Parent Toolbox classes, I’ve learned that in order to become a better parent, we don’t just need practical parenting tips, we need to look for growth within ourselves. Sunflower Toolboxes allow the parent to speak honestly about the hardships of parenthood and personal struggles. It’s a place free of judgement. I like to call it “The Trust Tree.” Susan guides us through the hard times and celebrates our success.

So through Toolbox participation, I’ve learned to speak the truth. Next time there is conflict, I will choose to acknowledge my own feelings, modeling that it’s okay to feel negative emotions. 

And if that mom isn’t prepared to hold an impromptu therapy session with me, I know my Sunflower Community will.

Post by Callie Bosch
Photos by Meade Peers McCoy

Sunflower Parent Toolbox classes are a free parent education benefit of our Seedlings early childhood program, for children ages 2-6. Some Parent Toolbox sessions also are open to the public for $10 per class (click here for details).

Now is the time! Seedlings is enrolling for the 2015/16 school year. Visit this page for more information, or contact us at 561 482-3412 to reserve your spot at an Intro to Seedlings Meeting.

Callie is a mom of two & a proud supporter of all things Sunflower.