a soft place to land

I am a Ted Talk fan. I have them running when I am cleaning up paperwork or correcting quick quizzes. I use Ted Talks as  many use the radio; as company and background noise and great food for thought.

A newer Ted Talk got my attention a little while ago. It is called How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. What I understood of her talk was how  continuous and intense stressors early on in life can affect the  physical wellbeing of a child throughout his or her life.

It made me wonder, though this thought is not new to me, did we give our children a soft place to land at the end of the day?

Was it enough for them to be able let their guard down? Did that happen often enough to not leave too many scars on them?

I get that kids can live stress because I have already been a kid. Actually, I don’t remember stressors when I was really young.

The teenage years were not the same though. During that time, there was a consistent emergency situation for a loved one in the household which put everyone on high alert or in their own corner licking wounds.

For my kids, I wanted them to know they had grown-ups in their corner and they could let their guard down. I wanted them to have a soft place to land at the end of the day.

soft place : en douceur

Sadly, they still had to deal with things that adults don’t always have to deal with. They knew how to tickle their dad’s toes to get him to stay awake enough to breathe after a coma.They also knew what ICUs looked like and sounded like in three Montreal area hospitals before they were old enough to drive.

Though we tried to respect what was going on around them, we did not use their dad’s unusual medical reality as an excuse for them to not do their best for themselves at the time. We wanted to respect their abilities and the energy that was available to them in building their own lives and dreams.

I try not to assume one way or the other that the children got what they truly needed. Again, having been a young person myself many years ago, I know that children have been known to avoid making waves when in presence of a difficult family situation. Our children  may have tried to protect us throughout.

Though we understood my husband’s medical ride was extreme and would overtake our  energies, we took our roles as mom and dad seriously. Sometimes we had to slow the children down. Sometimes we had to give them a push. Sometimes we just had to hold them and let them know that the earth will continue to spin on its axis and follow its orbit around the sun even if today was not perfect. It was important for us that the children knew we loved them always, no matter what might trip them up.

The coolest part of being parents has been our joy to watch and support them in forging their own paths.

My biggest worry is that we were not able to give them enough moments with a sense of safety; that the family situation was too much.

We both did our outmost to let them know we were there for them. I wanted them to have a soft place to land.

Time will tell if we have succeeded.

If we were not able to give them what they needed,  I just hope they know they deserve whatever help they need to come to terms with their right to live a wonderful life. Hopefully if therapy is needed to deal with the craziness they had to face, it will be affordable.

You never know, they may not need therapy either. One must never assume…