Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Something Is Not Right

via flickr

As a young girl I used to love the Madeline book series.  I thought Madeline was such a mysterious character with her confidence and ability to stare any situation square in the face.  Although, as a child I found Miss Clavel to be even more mysterious.  How did she always know that something was awry in that old house in Paris, covered in vines?  Particularly, how did she wake up, fully dressed, and excitedly proclaim,
"Something is not right!"
As I got older I simply thought that Miss Clavel was a convenient character for the author, Ludwig Belemans, to create for the point of his stories.
I thought it fantastically wild that a caregiver's eyes would fly open at the slightest sound or difference made in any capacity by those receiving care.
Then I became a mother.  I cannot commend Mr. Belemans enough for knowing what he was writing about so well.
Miss Clavel served as a mother, of sorts, to those twelve little girls in two straight lines.
And mamas always know.

The train of motherhood hit me hard and fast in late July 2012.  It definitely did not start as I anticipated.  The angels did not sing (at least, I didn't hear them...).  The waters did not part.  People did not stop me on the street to tell me how amazing I looked pushing my brand new baby in my designer stroller.  That might be because I didn't have a designer stroller, but whatever, man.  That was supposed to happen. 

Even though the beginning was incredibly difficult with a move right after Eldest was born, his colic, the postpartum depression; I kept on thinking if we could just get over each hurdle the next would allow us to take time off.  It would, at some point soon, be all downhill.
It had to, right?
I had a few friends with babies a few months older than Eldest, and all I heard was how much easier it got.  I also heard how their babies were crawling, babbling, and really interacting with them.
So, you'll understand my surprise and concern when Eldest didn't really seem to follow suit with my friend's children.
He was different.
Every time we went to the doctor for his check-ups we were given a list of things that he should be able to accomplish by that age.  Here's a rough breakdown of what happened:

9 months...a little bit different
12 months...pretty different
18 months...for sure different
24 months...now every one is worried kind of different

With every momentous doctor's visit I felt the pull of my dreams for Eldest slipping further and further away.  The vastness of the unknown for his life opened up, and I entertained every dark and dangerous scenario fully.  The weight of responsibility for Eldest's every shortcoming sat on me, his mom.  This had to be my fault in some capacity.
I woke in a murky, cold panic most mornings.  The future was hazy and distant, yet it I obsessed about what it would hold.  I needed to know he would be okay, but every time someone tried to offer reassurance I dismissed them.  I trusted no one to tell me the truth.  I thought they were just trying to make me feel better.  Besides, how could they know what the future held?
But I really wanted them to tell me it would all be okay.  I was a mess.

This darkness allowed me to wallow in my self-pity.  By all accounts my son might not live up to the fantasy of motherhood I so envisioned.  He might not ever get to do or be all the things I wanted for him.  As I wandered through this I began to realize the problem with all of this was me. 
The dreams I had for Eldest were just that- mine.
Those hopes never belonged to him.  It was always me who wanted for him to fulfill my own agenda.

I slowly woke up to realize having hopes and dreams for your child are fine, but only if you continually make room for who your child is above your own parental goals.
Eldest is different, and he's amazing.
He will live his life differently, but not wrongly.  Of that I am convinced.
He will live to fulfill his own purpose.  I know that.
I know that because I am determined, now more than ever, to get out of my own way in parenting him.  That means I get to let go of expectations of him and of myself.
I get to celebrate who Eldest is, and I get to love him how he needs to be loved.  Everything else gets to fall by the wayside. 
That means if other people think I'm doing it wrong they get to think I'm doing it wrong. 
I know who I am, and I am learning who my child is- that is all that matters.

As I think back to Miss Clavel I keep thinking that maybe it was me who was not getting it right.  Sure, Eldest has differences, and I am so glad that we discovered them when we did. 
However, I am the one who needed the lesson of self-discovery.
  I needed to see that my hope to make the future look brighter and bigger was forcing both of my children into a space that was duller and smaller.  Those two souls are neither dull nor small.They are, in fact, two of the brightest little lights I've ever encountered during my time here on Earth.  They are what dreams are made of.

I want to start loving motherhood along with loving my children.  I want to remember that even though other people and Pintrest tell me motherhood needs to look a certain way they may not be right.  I want to remember that my kids need me, and not some perfected version of me, to raise them.  I want to remember that I am perfectly imperfect, and I get to write my own history in this journey of motherhood.

In all of this I have a challenge for myself and I hope you'll join me:
Friends, let's be bigger.  Let's be brighter.  Let's let ourselves off the hook.
Let's let each other off the hook.
Let's celebrate the light of our children, instead of encouraging them to put a shade over their illuminating sparkle.
Let's love ourselves so we can love our people.
Let's be in this together.
I'll help you and you help me.
That's the only way this works.
Love to all of you, Wildebeests.

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