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Put On A Happy Face

I've had a rough week. I won't go into detail (although part of it will be explained in a post later this weekend), but it has been one of the most trying, stressful and saddening weeks I've had in a long time. Here's the hard part about being a dad and having a bad week: I hate being upset or in a bad mood in front of my daughter.

This is a constant mental struggle for me. As her father and as someone she looks up to and is constantly watching, I feel like I should always 'put on my happy face' and be smiling and laughing. She's so quick to mimic and mirror behaviors and attitudes right now that I hate the idea of making her upset or grumpy because she can see that her dad is.

But on the other side of the coin, life isn't always a constant series of good moods. Now, I'm not trying to teach my toddler deep philosophical life lessons already. But, rather than feeling the need to constantly plaster on a fake smile, maybe I should use these bad moods to let my little girl know that it's okay to be sad sometimes. It's okay to have a bad day. It's okay to come home sometimes after a long day and cry, frown or in daddy's case, grab a beer and melt into the couch.

As parents, we all want to be invincible. We want to be the best, the happiest, the smartest, the funniest. Chances are, all of us moms and dads have far too many days where we have to struggle to put on a smile and fight through the urge to scream, cry, punch a pillow, or whatever venting mechanism we need for our frustrations. And sometimes, masking it is okay.

But sometimes, we just need to be transparent. I've realized this week that it's okay for my daughter to know that I'm sad. As happy-go-lucky of a person that I am, I'm only human, and the bad moods will come sometimes. And if I want my daughter to be emotionally healthy and feel comfortable expressing what she's feeling, then I sure as hell better do the same for her as she's growing up and developing. (Don't you love those classic 'Practice what you preach' scenarios?)

The other night when I was with my little girl, I explained to her that I was having a bad week. I told her why. I spilled my guts to my daughter who isn't even 2, and it felt amazing. She had no idea what I was saying for the most part, but she did pick up on the word 'sad'. It's a funny thing about little kids; as much as they are still learning about life, they have a very keen emotional sense. My daughter knows the difference between my goofy, lip-pouting sad face and genuine dejection. When she could tell that I was legitimately upset and not feeling like my normal, silly-daddy self, she knew. And she gave me a hug.

And it was the best I've felt all week.


I know this feeling all too well. There are many times when the intense stress of having the responsibilities of everything a parent has to do (work, pay bills, doctor's/dentists/eye care appointments, kids clothes shopping, vehicle maintenance, vehicle breakdowns, extra workload, no outside help, groceries, supplies, etc.) comes to an epic meltdown emotionally. I used to put on my brave face so my son wouldn't see mommy depressed/overwhelmed/sad/sick/angry/frustrated. As time went on I realized that it was impossible to keep that facade up. I came to a point where I went in the other room to cry it out (as I have done in the to past to sheild him from seeing me so upset) and he heard me from the living room and came in to comfort me. It was a role reversal. So many times I have comforted him; now he was here being the big little guy he is, helping mom. He said, "That's okay, Mom." and he gave me a big hug. At that moment I knew I could express myself in front of him. I was afraid that he would be worried I was an emotional mess, but he was more concerned with dishing out hugs. I felt so much better. Sometimes mom's own way of comforting is a the best medicine. I give hugs and in return, I get hugs too. :)

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Ahh, the innocence and the 'it's ok' hug combo... if that doesn't fix it, nothing will. :)

Good points though. And it is very important to be outward with emotion, communicate the reason, and teach. Actually, regardless if they understand it, talking it out could even help YOU work through it!

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