Photo: Tabitha Yates via The Redeemed Mama

“Baby, I need you to stop crying about everything.” I say to my 4-year-old son, followed by a heavy sigh. Another day, another sob fest about something that broke his little heart. He is my sensitive soul, my middle child, my gentle spirit. 

I will painfully admit, that I don’t always handle his sensitivities in the most patient way; like my kindred gentle soul whispers to me that I should. I get frustrated at the amount of calming and coaxing I have to do. I get tired of every disappointment ending in a river of tears.

But then I consider what kind of young man he is going to become, with all the love and sweetness he possesses and I know it’ll be a beautiful thing. Honestly, there’s not even one part of me that wants to “toughen him up.”

I watch him show an affection and tenderness for his little brother, that not a lot of boys his age are known for. I hear him ask me to hold him many times a day, because his little spirit needs that physical connection to recharge and I think of how affectionate and loving he will grow up to be.

I listen in admiration (And a bit of exhaustion) as he expresses his feelings. “Mommy, I’m so disappointed because I didn’t get a date with you today.” “Mom, it made me feel so frustrated when you said I have to share my new toy. It’s special to me.”  “Mommy, I had a really overwhelming day.” 

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I can just imagine the amazing communication skills he will have in his future, that at 4-years-old he can spell out his feelings instead of just turning it all into anger; as too many men in this world do.

I see all the building blocks of the amazing man he will become, if I can just nurture and embrace his sensitive spirit and not break it.

It’s hard, Mama’s. If you have an emotional, sensitive or “clingy” boy; you are not alone. I know it can take every ounce of you most days—to acknowledge, to reaffirm, to embrace, to encourage, to love unconditionally. When his big emotions are taking over, take a step back and remember that you are the calm in his storm. When he trusts you enough to tell you all the things that made his day overwhelming, whether they be big or small, take a deep breath and model empathy and concern for his feelings. When he climbs up in your lap and begs you, “Hold me, Mama. I’m having a hard day” Think of what a gift it is, that you are his safe place. You are the one he knows he can cast all his cares on. 

They’ll outgrow our laps, but they’ll always be our sweet little boys in their hearts and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

This post originally appeared on The Today Show.