Seeing your child in emotional pain is a heartache I wasn’t prepared for. My oldest daughter, Lila, just turned 7 years old and she is experiencing her first heartbreak. Heartbreak is tough at any age, but for a 7 year old it’s a lot to deal with. This is one thing I wish someone had told me about before becoming a mother. So young and so full of all these different emotions. Fighting an internal battle of how to process them all.
I know this won’t be the last heartbreak she ever has. I wish it would be, but I know she will be faced with much more sadness, disappointment and heartbreak in her life. Just like I know her little heart will mend and she will start to feel better, but right now she is broken. So lost. This heartbreak isn’t over a boy, but a little girl named Payton, her very best first grade friend.
Two peas in a pod
Not long into the new school year, she came home talking about a little girl named Payton. “Pay Ton” as she pronounces it. All my husband and I heard about was Payton this and Payton that. We were thrilled she had a close friend. Payton is funny and silly. She laughs a lot and makes jokes. Where Lila is more reserved and shy. So, Payton seemed to be just what she needed. They were the perfect little pair.
Then one day Lila came home very upset saying Payton had to move. Her little heart was so heavy. Payton is more to Lila then just a school friend, she genuinely loves and cares for her. Over the course of the next few weeks, month as we prepared for Payton’s departure, we tried to talk about how she was feeling and reassure her that it was ok to be sad. It was ok to miss her friend. Encouraging her to cry if she needed to or to talk about it.
On Payton’s last day at school, we sat Lila down that morning and explained that this would be the last day Payton would be at school with her. Her little eyes welled up with tears, and she simply said in her own little way, “Ok, Mama.” I told her to go have the best day with Payton and be strong. Give Payton lots of hugs and let her know you will always be her special friend.
I was 13 all over again
You see when I was in the seventh grade, my best friend moved from Mississippi to Virginia where her family was originally from. We had been inseparable for the past four years and when she left my whole world shattered. The day Lila came home to tell me that Payton was moving, my heart sank. All those emotions came flooding back as I remembered my own heartache that I was experiencing when my dear friend Laura left. I couldn’t stop the tears because I had felt that same heartache once. So I held my sweet girl tight and prayed for her little heart to mend.
But my friend and I have a story unlike any other. We remained friends and visited every summer until we were grown and had children of our own. Even then we continued to visit and be there for each other for all of life’s events. We are now 44 years old. Two young girls that were separated at 13 worked to keep our friendship alive and growing. And a great big thank you to our parents for supporting and helping us.
Big emotions for a little girl
I don’t know what the future will hold for Lila and Payton, but right now my child is absolutely heartbroken. There is no other way to put it. Several days after Payton’s family had moved, Lila was just being a beast one night. She was so fussy and cranky. She wouldn’t say anything. All she would do was cry and whine. I was getting frustrated with her, very frustrated. I told her to go to bed that she needed some sleep. Later after she had fallen asleep I found a note by her bed that read, I miss you Payton. You were my friend. Right then it hit me, she was dealing with some big emotions that she just wasn’t able to put into words. And that’s absolutely breaking this mother’s heart.
You hurt for them, with them
I knew Lila would be sad and miss Payton terribly but one thing I wasn’t prepared for was what my heart would be doing through all of this; the heartache I would be feeling. My heart is breaking too. I am feeling so much sadness and pain, because my child is hurting so. Trust me, I’ve been through heartache. I’ve experienced disappointment and sadness so deep I didn’t know if my heart would ever heal, but it did. And I know hers will too one day.
But right now my child is in pain and as a mom, seeing your child in pain hurts deeply. It’s a deeper pain than I’ve ever known. A heartache I have no control over because it doesn’t belong to me. A pain I will have to endure until she smiles again. And she will smile again, I know.
But for right now, all I can do is just be. Just be there. Just be still. Just be present. Just be encouraging. Just be a shoulder. Just be a smile. Just be a sounding board. Just be a cozy hug.
Just be her Mama.