I Am Allowed to Have an Opinion!

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“I am allowed to HAVE AN OPINION!”

I was downstairs. She was upstairs. I could hear every syllable.

Without seeing her, I knew her fists were clenched and her arms were stiff at her sides. Her jaw was jutting out and hot tears were collecting in the corners of her eyes: her tells. Her body betrayed her, leaking her emotions all over the place.

I try to let my kids work things out on their own–sometimes out of shear

exhaustion, sometimes not. I know the difference between forced crying and real pain. I can hear it and feel it inside my chest. With four children, all of whom have inherited some of my emotional hardware, there are a lot of big feelings in our house all of the time even when they’re supposed to be sleeping. The feelings have feelings have feelings.

This time, though, I scaled the steps because a parenting revelation was happening.

She heard me.

She listened to the heart-to-heart we had months ago in preparation for inventor’s camp, a recap of the conversation we had in the midst of her frustration with “friends” who wanted her to do this and not that and then this but not with that person or her or him.

She HEARD me.

More often than not, I fire words at my brood missing my target entirely. My mouth moves and inside my head I’m saying: Shut up, Em. Enough is enough, now. They’re too little to get what you’re saying. Rephrase. Their eyes are glazed over; you’ve lost them. Abort. Abort.

This time, though, this one time, she was with me. She heard me give her permission to have an opinion, to not be afraid to share her intuition, to go with her gut and let it march out of her mouth.

I found her just like I thought I would, stiff and unyielding, glaring at her brother with a ferocity in her eyes that she hoped would hurt him–quite literally.

The room erupted when they saw me. “He wouldn’t” and “she said” and “he won’t” and “then,” “but,” “so” and “that’s not true,” “yes it is,” “no it isn’t”. Tears.

Most of the time I can feel my insides clamoring to compete with the emotional chaos until I’m ready to erupt.

Not this time.

I took Chloe by the hand. She reluctantly followed. Her body was still stiff and ready to spar. That jaw, my jaw, my father’s jaw–out and angry.

“Chlo.” My voice was almost a whisper.

“Mommy. I’m allowed to have an opinion!” She said one more time before she folded into me.

The weight of voicing her opinion, standing her ground was hard work. Frustrating, tiring, gut-wrenching work.

There were a million things I could have said to her while her head rested on my shoulder. Her ear was so close. She was captive. I had more to tell her. I could have told her that sometimes our opinions are wrong or that it’s important to listen or that it’s not always best to dig your heels in or that everyone has opinions (just look at a comment section on the internet, I think). I could have told her that someone can always challenge her opinion, so make sure it’s a good one. Think it through first. Be assertive, sure, but be flexible and open-minded. Have convictions, Chloe, but allow for others to have convictions, too. And…

There were so. many. things.

We’re at a funny place, Chloe and I. We have been for a little while. I’m figuring her out. She’s doing the same. I know it won’t be the last time I find myself in the middle of a “phase” without any idea how to navigate its waters.

How many phases do I have left where she can still fit in my lap?

Her ear was so close. There were so many things to say.

And I didn’t say any of them. Not one thing.

Saying nothing was enough or better or just right or something. This time anyway. I think.

But that’s just my opinion. I am allowed to have one, after all.

16 comments for “I Am Allowed to Have an Opinion!

  1. October 6, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I’ve always respected your writing, and this is no exception. I have a spitfire of a gal myself, and I’m taking notes because you’re a teacher whether you realize it or not!

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 6, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Oh, thank you! I am so honored to have your support! Spitfire–perfect word for my girls. I should be collecting notes on what works and what never ever works (far longer section of the notebook). She is a puzzle!

      Thank you so much for reading!

      • Will
        October 12, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        Really wonderful

  2. October 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Love, love, love this!!!!!! It’s so cool when they actually hear us isn’t it?

    • girlalwaysinterrupted
      October 6, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you, Kathy! Yes! It is awesome! I feel like it might be pretty infrequent, but I’m hoping for a big pay-off in the end when they’re lovely, well-adjusted adults! 😉

  3. October 6, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Beautifully written…and well done, Mom!!

  4. Nancy
    October 6, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    They are lovely, well-adjusted kids and will be lovely, well-adjusted adults, sister of mine. Grab a paddle (I’ve got a few extras!) and jump on in- we’ll navigate these waters together …and help each other remember, before we talk, that to the ears and hearts of our kids it’s enough for us to just listen and to let them know we appreciate how amazing they are at communicating their thoughts & feelings like Chlo does. (I never said “I’m allowed to have an opinion” at Chloe’s age, did you? Totally amazing. Love that kiddo. Love her Momma.)

  5. October 7, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Oh man I can understand her totally. I’m in my thirties and still struggle with the fact that I’m allowed to have an opinion. My daughter is the exact opposite of me. She knows her opinion is allowed, and she will be heard. You’ll have to let us know when you get to the conversation where not every opinion is right, because I know I’ll need to have that talk with my little one…

  6. Michelle
    October 9, 2015 at 2:17 am

    Your house sounds a lot like mine, with 4 kids at home ranging in ages from 5-19; the 5 year old a girl the rest boys. I find myself often sitting at the bottom of the stairs wondering if I should interject myself into their disagreements. I try to let them work it out as much as possible, I sit holding my breath until the calm washes over whatever it is they were discussing. My daughter is a spunky soul who although is the smallest of our brood has the biggest personality. She can be heard on a daily basis telling whoever will listen that a person is a person no matter how small and you have to listen to them. I love her for it and I hope her spunkyness never leaves her.

  7. October 11, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Just beautiful. ?

  8. October 13, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    This reminds me so much of my family when I was younger. I love it. My sister only heard what was said a few times. haha.

  9. October 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    This is a very cool article! Once again, ‘Girl Always Interrupted’ has managed to perfectly hit this element of growing-up right on the head. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  10. October 28, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Hi there! This was wonderfully written; I’m a long way away from being a mother, but this really brought back memories of when I was a child, fighting with my elder sister. My parents told me (when I got older) that they always struggled with what to say, whether to get involved, how to teach us to be diplomatic but to also stand our ground but ALSO be open to other ideas…there’s so many conflicts in the rules of human interaction. I can’t imagine teaching a tiny human being all that. Again, loved the post! 🙂

  11. pina ambrosino
    November 6, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Yes I agree, I have two kids and sometimes less is so much more. Some stuff seems to sink in, I’m happy with that.

    Pina

  12. November 8, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Sometimes we must let the silence do the talking, don’t we? It’s my guess that your daughter’s mind was processing a lot in that silence. Way to be involved.

  13. November 17, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    This was such a wonderful article. I just started my own blog yesterday, and your blog is the first one I’ve started following. This post is exactly why I started blogging: as a young woman I always felt as though no one heard me. I felt like my voice wasn’t as powerful as the voices of those around me, particularly boys. It’s so heartening to see a mother who is providing the guidance that all of us girls hope for. It’s so important to tell your daughter she’s valuable because it’s the only thing that is going to help her fight against the messages from the media and the men in her life who will tell her the opposite.

    Speaking from experience I know that though it was completely unintentional, my little brother always looked down on me and my opinions because I was a girl. I was not allowed (and still aren’t) to speak about anything that was considered a “boys subject”. To this day I don’t think he values me as much as he would an older brother, but I don’t blame him. It was my parents who didn’t push him enough to see the value in women, they never told him it was wrong to talk down to me when it came to sports or cars or anything else “boyish”.

    My first post was actually about finding your own voice and reminding yourself that your opinion is valuable. After nineteen years it’s still something I struggle with, and I’m sure it’ll be something I struggle with for years to come. However, it gets easier every day. So, if you’d life to read it: https://girlsarenotmachines.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/the-importance-of-sharing-your-story/

    I think this struggle is something women can relate to no matter the age. Thanks for sharing.

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