Looking at the many, MANY drafts in my drafts folder reminds me of how quickly things change. How I’d start a post on something that was relevant in the moment, only to find it wasn’t by the time I returned to it two weeks later. Perhaps what makes maintaining a parenting blog so difficult is the wicked combination of lack of time and the ever-revolving door of rapidly changing issues that make up the foundation of the parent’s existence.
In this moment, our girls are approaching their fifth birthday. They sleep in bunkbeds. They bombard me with their (faulty yet amusing) knowledge of brains and galaxies and chrysalises. They are a far cry from the hapless blobby babies they once were. We are distanced enough from that time to begin to look back on it and sigh with wistful gratitude, yet still too close to the horrors of the two’s and three’s and early four’s to have shed the PTSD of their early childhood. So I remain jumpy. Hypervigilant. Fearful that things won’t get easier, despite the fact that they already have. In so many ways they’ve grown, as have I. And yet I find myself always tangled in the web of wanting to be a better parent, and never feeling that “good enough” is good enough.
My most recent and profound moments of clarity have involved my ever-present quest to accept my children for who they are. Love them, yes, always I have from that first moment they were pulled from my body, with that deepest of loves that you can’t make up your mind to have or do or feel, but that just lives in your skin, burns in your soul. Jump in front of a rabid lion kind of love. But acceptance is a far different thing. I have struggled to accept and understand my children as people who are so very very different from myself. Shy. Cautious. Observant. Introverted.
Multiple times a week now, I give a speech to some curious 4-year old in my daughter’s class who asks me why she doesn’t talk. With as much genuine enthusiasm as I can muster, I confidently proclaim how wonderful it is that some people are quiet and some people are loud and how GREAT it is that we’re all different, right?! I’ve talked about this in this space before, and yet it’s one of those issues that seems to have gotten stuck in the revolving door of issues and not found its way out. What I want is to not CARE if it EVER finds its way out. What I want is to look at my beautiful child and genuinely feel like her quiet tune is okay in a world of loud song.
“In school I’m just quiet” she tells me. “My friends are too loud. I’ve lost my voice like Ariel, but I talk a little bit. Just a little bit.”
I read books on selective mutism and raising introverted children. Her teachers have learned to whisper to her. Her classmates, though curious, so far have accepted her quiet unassuming presence. I revel in her loud unrestricted voice at home. And I try, so very very hard to believe it really doesn’t need to be any other way right now.
Bit by bit I step toward accepting and enjoying my children for who they are. And bit by bit I help them find their way through a world in which their square-pegness often meets round holes.
In efforts to give both girls more time to build their confidence and motor skills, we petitioned their school district to allow them into the two year transitional kindergarten program in the Fall, despite the fact that their summer birthday doesn’t technically qualify them for it. It worked. And so I relax a little bit knowing we’ve bought them some more time. Perhaps the extra time being even more valuable to me, allowing me that space to enjoy where my children are at and how far they’ve come, instead of nervously noticing how they aren’t quite where their peers are.
Perhaps they needn’t be. Did I want children who were like every other? Or did I want exceptional children? I don’t know anymore. And this is progress, because six months ago I would have answered that question with an answer based on wanting things to be easier, status quo, “normal.” Today I am willing to go beyond hoping that my daughters’ unique character traits and temperaments will transcend the challenges they pose now, and become true assets to their future selves, and believe that they will. That it will all be worth it.
Every day I am a new version of the parent I was the day before. Layer upon layer, draft upon draft, I’ve learned and grown, and written and rewritten my own character sketch. So many drafts, but never the finished product. Just one mom, loving. One mom, tired. One mom, laughing. One mom, crying. One mom, proud. One mom, scared. One mom, trying.
Yes, that is me in this moment. Just one mom, trying.