We kept exchanging glances across the windowless children’s hospital waiting room as we held our baby girls in our arms. I was there with Clara to have a swallow study done to get some answers on some suspicious gagging and vomiting.
I have no idea what brought her to the waiting room that day with her precious girl.
But, finally we exchanged words, over baby-gear schlepping.
“You were genius to bring your stroller. I carried all our stuff from the parking garage and my arms are aching…. how old is your baby girl?” I asked… because it’s what you ask.
“She’s eight weeks, how old is yours?” She replied.
“Oh she’s nearly 7 months, is your daughter long for eight weeks?”
“Seven months! Wow she’s so petite. I wish mine was little like yours, and your daughter has such olive skin, mine is so pale.”
Then Clara’s name was called and the speech therapist whisked us back to a room.
I smiled before walking away and said only this
“I think she’s beautiful! Absolutely perfect.”
As I walked through the hospital corridors I couldn’t stop reflecting on our conversation.
“I wish mine was like yours.”
At first I threw her under the bus, mentally that is. But then I thought about it more as I drove home from the hospital.
How many of us think and say things like this as we move throughout our weeks?
“I wish my child sat still as well as yours.”
“Your three year old is so great with crayons! Mine mostly chews on them still.”
And our environment does nothing but throw fuel on the fire of these thoughts by saying things like:
“Wow your kids are busy.”
“My she’s a big girl isn’t she?”
“Looks like you have your hands full.”
I have heard all these things. Recently even.
I fully believe so many of these things are said with kind intent or at least as a gateway to friendly conversation but they are easy fertilizer for the seeds of doubt, aren’t they?
What if we’re doing it wrong?
Daily. Genetically. In every way wrong?
I am with you sister, brother, friend. This parenting gig is hard enough without the commentary that causes us to wonder if our kids are messed up and it’s all our fault.
Either by nature or nurture we worry we are contributing to society in all the wrong ways.
Here’s my crazy:
I have a gorgeous baby that doesn’t sleep
I have an extremely type-A, 4 year old who I constantly go head to head with.
I have a perpetual motion machine of a 6 year old who hugs everyone and touches everything.
I’m dealing with reflux, tantrums, manipulation, screaming and sensory processing disorder. We have bed wetting, we are terrible at picking up our toys and sometimes we skip bedtime story time… and even prayer time.
Don’t get me started on showering and tooth brushing.
They’re a hot mess.
And they’re all mine. Thank God.
I love these kids with an ache that I may never find the bottom of, crazy and all.
Don’t get me wrong, clothes fit them weird and they are always getting dirty. I worry about taking them in to anywhere containing breakable items and we still use the nursery at church because I worry they would stop the service with their protests over the idea of sitting still for a whole hour… and their Dad’s the pastor… even.
AND It’s summer and they are home all the time and they are so so loud and messy and crazy and non stop from 6:45 AM – 8:45 PM.
But they’re my little people, and it’s my job to guide them in to adulthood. I can’t get away from that.
Could we do better with our parenting? Of course. But remember… better is a constant tyrant, we could always do better.
But you know what? I love them. And I wouldn’t change a thing, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
The point is that we all have to stop this sort of talk. Completely. Or at least in front of our kids.
We can’t keep wishing for other or different little people… Smaller, bigger, quieter, stiller, smarter, more coordinated neater little people.
We have to love the ones we’re with. Because those are the ones we’ve been given. And I have to believe that this cosmic parent-kid matchup didn’t happen by accident.
We have things to teach each other, to give and take away from each other, we will move into each other’s lives permanently and there will be no way to measure the impact we have on each other at a soul level.
We are intertwined. Beyond death this thing, these bonds are forever, for generations of world impacting-life we are in this together.
We all have issues, I know I do.
But, to be honest, we adults are so often given more grace with ours.
We can assert our personality type, look for coping skills, check out a book on tape at the library, schedule counseling, advocate for ourselves.
But these littles? They have only us, for the most part, to see them for who they are and love them no matter what.
Special needs, quirks, health issues, allergies, obsessions, interests. Our kids have stumbling blocks, special needs… It’s who they are… it’s who we have.
1) We can’t swap.
2) We’d find something else to complain about if we could.
3) Wishing for different kids, speaking those words out loud, does permanent damage to because we lessen our precious children in these moments and if our children hear it…they hear “you’re not good enough” and that’s the last thing any soul needs to hear.
The world will tell them they’re not enough a thousand times a day in a hundred different ways.
Let’s find a way to make sure that our voice? Their home voice is a voice of love and as much unconditional acceptance as a flawed human can manage.
That’s my mission.
To love the ones I’m with, crazy and all, and every night as they bed for more snuggles, more stories and more time with me… to be thankful that I get to be their mom. Because even though none of us are really perfect.
To me they absolutely are.
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