There’s this comic of two adults watching a kid play.
Then a meteor hits the kid.
That’s usually how I approach my stepkids.
If they’re outside and one falls down, I just keep smiling and brush it off; they knew the risks of playing around. “You’re fine, you’re fine.”
And they’re usually fine.
If they’re roughhousing and one gets hurt, they aren’t gonna get much pity from me; they knew the risks of roughhousing. “You’re totally fine.”
And usually, they are.
But what happens when they aren’t?
What happens when things go a little deeper than “you’re fine”?
As Mel Robbins says, “fine” is a four-letter word beginning with F. We hide behind being “fine” — but often it really (really) isn’t true.
If the kids come home crying, or get really frustrated with the stress of school — what, they knew the risks of … being human?
“You’re fine” doesn’t always cut it.
Almost counter-intuitively, kids seem to be less indestructible the older they get.
I guess it makes sense though. Because by the time they’re adults (*coughLikeMecough*) they have the capability of melting into a complete and utter wreck over things that probably wouldn’t have bothered them a bit when they were little. (Example coming in a minute.)
And for my stepkids, that process has already started.
They start caring about what other people think, particularly peers. They realize that responsibilities are a Thing, and that they aren’t huge fans of that. They become aware of what does and doesn’t make them feel right (crowds, video games, friends).
And it’s kind of weird being an adult watching these things happen. To not be able to brush stuff off and say, “You’re fine” — because what if they aren’t?
It has to be okay to not be okay.
Because sometimes not being okay is the path to becoming okay again.
Lord knows I’m “not okay” LOADS of times.
Like last Thursday.
Jan. 23, 2020, was my newspaper’s last day in the building we’d been in forever. (The paper was founded in 1892.)
We’d known it was coming. And I’d tried to smile and brush it off; I knew the risks of being a print journalist.
What I hadn’t known was how gosh-darn-freaking emotional that last day would be.
I cried a BUNCH throughout the day, but I tried to put on a happy face for the kiddos when I got home. Because I was “fine.”
Don’t get me wrong, I completely told them what had happened and how sad I was. I even almost cried over dinner.
But then I shoved my feelings down for the rest of the night — except, as I told my husband, even though I was acting normal, inside I was still really quite sad.
And as soon as the kids went to sleep, I let myself not be okay.
I let myself miss the building and all the memories and relationships and sheer history it represented.
It absolutely 100% sucked. And pretending it didn’t, pretending I was “fine,” wasn’t gonna help me get over it.
I had to let myself feel it. All of it.
(I couldn’t do it alone, either.)
- I was lucky I could talk it out to my husband.
- I was lucky I could vent and reminisce to my parents.
- I was lucky I had coworkers to commiserate with as we all left a huge chunk of our personal history behind us.
- And yes, even my stepkids gave me hugs and were adorably supportive, because despite my smile, they knew I was still sad.
That all helped me be … more okay.
We aren’t “fine” all the time. We aren’t supposed to be.