Trouble Tuesday: Letting them feel it

Mama C and the Boys/ Sammy

This month I am devoting Tuesday’s post to trouble. Things that give me, or someone in the Mama C collective (family, friends, our safety net) trouble. It is not meant to bring trouble energetically towards us, but to let it go, move through it.

Mama C and the Boys/ Sammy 2 .2011

SO why these photos with this topic? Besides the obvious–that Sam looks like he is having some hard feelings-it is about how much trouble I have with photos, moments like these.

Imagine if once a year instead of holiday cards we all sent Trouble Cards? Pictures of all of us pouting, in a funk, distant, troubled. Being our full selves.

So often I write stories in my head about Sam’s troubles.

Truth is, as he gets older, I will know less and less.

At the time we were at a friend’s house for  breakfast. Their kids are both Black, related to each other, and adopted. They look alike, as biological siblings can. They have a mom and a dad. They have a supersonic video game thing on the television. Was any of this on Sam’s mind? Or was it just time for some quiet? 

I have trouble letting him just be Sam-my son who can be a million miles away. Sam my son, who is not distant from me because we are not genetically related, but because he is Sam in this life. Remarkable, beautiful, energetic, loving, smart, athletic Sam who, at this moment may or may not be having a hard time.

My job is to let it happen, help him manage it, talk about it, or maybe just let him be?

Mama C and the Boys/ Sammy 3: 2011

My job is to model that I recover from my troubles in a healthy way, most of the time. My job is to allow myself to hold a hard time in one hand, and the understanding that it will pass in the other


What is your strategy around your kids and their troubles? Their big feelings? What can you share?

Note on the postaday process: It is actually incredibly helpful for me to devote a day to this. I have a notebook I keep on m desk, and I jot notes down for what I might post about on the days I’ve established. It is helping the blog write itself. And as I take pictures, I begin to see where they might land, or have in mind a picture I need for a post.


  1. Hey, good morning. This is a great post and there is a lot to be said and thought about– about the issue of our children, their troubles and our role. I just want to throw into the mix one thought– I think that just as we were taught (incorrectly) that you must have a mom and a dad to have a family– we were also taught that it is the natural order of things to be less close to our children as they grow up– that growing up means growing less close. I have a strong suspicion that this is not the case– and want to challenge– in the most loving way– the assumption that the “truth is that as he gets older, [you] will know less and less.” There is probably a lot more for me to say on this myself– but I wanted to note it and keep thinking on it. The post is great, though, as are the photos. I will also think about writing more openly about troubles and how I handle them. Hers (my daughter’s) and my own…

    • Well said. I think I will know about them, but what I am reacting to, is that in childhood troubles are so physcial and surface at first; weaning, teeth, bed time, monsters, not getting the toy you want… and then they go inward I feel. And Sam is already a boy of few words.. So if it isn’t physical it seems to escape him too! But you are RIGHT. And I hope others react to that too.

  2. Hi Mama C,
    This is a little off topic, but what program do you use for photo
    editing. I love the effect you used on the pictures on this post. I’ve
    seen other photos like this too and always wonder what program and
    what effect this is. Thanks!


  3. I’m trying not to worry about the future. My husband says kids go into the TUNNEL when they hit the teenage years and simply STOP talking (to their parents anyway). How to keep the lines open without being a pain in the behind is the challenge.

    The very act of you caring so much and giving him the opportunity to express (whether he chooses to or not), I’m sure is deeply valuable.

  4. Hi Mama C,
    I find all your posts so insightful and helpful. Thank you for what you do!

    In terms of Finding Trouble, I find that each of my kids are different. One is an excessive complainer so tend to gently tease her a bit to suss out the if she’s just over reacting and to give her some levity. My oldest is not a complainer and she will tend to come with her problems, though she doesn’t get upset that often. My youngest is quite sunny but if we ask in a negative way, we’ll get a negative answer and vice versa. Ah, the complexities of differing personalities!

    Our joke at home is if the oldest complains about an injury; go straight to the ER. If the middle complains, put ice on it. If the youngest complains, just kiss it.

    • Thank you again for the words of encouragement for Mama C, Mama P! Great “joke” at your home. I think we are going to have a similar dynamic here in a way. #2 LOVES to talk it all out, just like me!

  5. Solitude is sometimes a very helpful space. To just be able to be, in the moment, and sometimes, us parents have to wait to be invited in if we really want to learn what’s troubling our little ones. I guess the trouble for us, or at least myself, is knowing when to wait for an invitation. Trail and error I suppose. Speaking of thoughts of journaling, since Emma likes to write, and likes the idea of writing in notebooks, I’ve been thinking about having her write her troubles when they arise.

    • I love that- a journal for Emma. I recently gave a friend’s daughter a journal/drawing/sketch pad to illustrate her “worry thoughts” as she calls them. I love your calming words–and the reminder about an invitation!

  6. This is one of my hardest things to deal with as a parent. Of course, I automatically impose my own self-doubts and when I see Marshall spiraling downward or just being quiet or sad or alone, I tend to worry, to wonder what it is that’s bothering him. so he feeds off that and either really does start to feel depressed or just reflects my anxiety back at me. We have a good relationship and we do talk and I let him know that I am always ready to listen, but I think I do it to excess at times. I remember my own teenage years (he’ll be 10 soon) and wishing that someone would pay attention. I need to learn to NOT pay attention, to let him funk and bring himself out. But it’s not easy.

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