The other night my husband was telling me about his day at work and filling me in on his work gossip. He told how this one woman who is normally pretty quiet started expressing her opinion about a certain situation going on. She got energetic the more she spoke and rather than apologizing for her thoughts on the matter that may be deemed unacceptable if heard by the masses, she said, “Look, LaWanda is LaWanda….” as if to say, she is who she is and will not apologize for that. While I had a good laugh listening to my husband impersonate this woman, and still do just thinking about it, I totally respect where she is coming from. I think her words may be my new mantra.
I think as much as I try to hide it and pretend that I am accepting of imperfections and flaws, I am actually pretty critical, of myself and of my children. I think a lot of my criticism stems from worry. I love every ounce of my children. I love their unique qualities, their funny nature and the things that make them who they are. But when I send them out into the world, whether I am with them or not, I worry about how they are perceived and if they are being treated fairly.
My daughter as a baby and toddler and now my toddler son tend to be cautious and have an expression that makes people wonder if they are sleepy or angry. As babies, they tend to observe and hold back. I still get a bit annoyed when people say, “oh, what’s wrong with him?” or “is he tired?” I’m not sure why it bothers me; I do not expect my children to please other people. I am slowly evolving away from being a “people pleaser” myself because it is not healthy to live for others. Yet, some deep, dark hidden part of me wants everyone in the world to see my children as I see them: sweet, smart and perfect.
My daughter is really coming “in to her own.” She is not quite so cautious, quiet or reserved anymore. As a baby and toddler she was quiet and focused, she almost never threw tantrums or whined and we prided her and our parenting (ha!) on these qualities. Now, she is an exuberant girl who loves life. She is funny, excitable and very social and these are wonderful qualities.
I met with her teacher today because I, along with two other moms, am going to be a room mom. While planning the upcoming Halloween party, we each mentioned funny things about our kids and issues we may be having at home. I jokingly said, “Is it normal for a 5, almost 6 years old, to regress in some ways?” I meant that my daughter is testing her boundaries and pushing her limits lately. She argues, defies, whines, meanders, and day dreams lately. I believe that she is evolving and changing just as we all do throughout life. There will be times where she tests new behaviors and ideas. And I know this because I did and do it today. We are human and we are ever-evolving in the midst of just being.
The teacher looked at me somewhat seriously and said, “um, no, not really.” This was not the answer I sought, I wanted to hear a joking, “oh, yes, my kid….” or “they do and it’s normal.” I am not seriously concerned about my daughter but yet still seek reassurance that she is doing okay and following the “normal” path. Her teacher went on to say how my daughter usually focuses well but this week has been daydreaming and not focusing on her work. That need to have the teacher compliment my child and say how wonderfully she is doing creates anxiety and worry in me that something is wrong with my daughter. I know nothing is wrong other than she is a small child figuring out her world just as her brother, myself and every other human being.
As I come down from my worries realizing that I am, yet again, over analyzing the situation, I think on my own life and how I have grown from the learning experiences put on my path. I remember the advice and logic that I readily offer to friends and I start to relax. I then come around again to that place of love and acceptance of my daughter and my son for who they are even if it is not some mold of perfection. It is the same place I have come to with myself over the years. I will likely have these moments again of worry, anxiety, speculation and projection but I think I will always be able to get back to peace and acceptance if I can just remember my new mantra: