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Monday, May 4, 2015

More than enough

When my first baby was born I cared about these things, in this order.

Healthy.

Happy.

Smart.

The first two were achieved early on.  For the most part at least.  And so already I took for granted the miracle upon miracle that resulted in our perfect little boy and I started striving for, hoping for, longing for first.  For the early achievement of all significant milestones.  For validation that this baby who had turned my world upside down was 100% worth it.

And let's face it.  He was my first.  I was stricken by guilt if I left his side for even a minute, so there was little else to do but sit and stare and wait for something to happen.

And one day he rolled over.  I thought it was early and I imagined my baby was a freaking genius.  I mean, he rolled the whole way over.  All of that practice finally paid off!

I assumed he'd start crawling like a week later.  Being a genius and all.  And so I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

He started crawling at an age that was (gasp!) average.  Completely average.  Not early.  Not special.

But then he walked at ten months and I breathed a small sigh of relief and, although Facebook wasn't my thing at that time, I hoped beyond hope that someone, everyone would ask what Aiden was doing new.  And that I could casually mention he was walking now (while conveniently forgetting to mention that "walking" was three drunken steps to the couch) and cross my fingers that they would know how early and exceptional of a feat this was.

Our parents were in awe.  They seemed to fully understand the wonder that was our first child.  But beyond a few close friends and family, who were probably humoring me, no one seemed to really care.

Oh well, I thought, just wait until he starts talking.

And so I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

After a long wait some mumbled gibberish started to escape from his mouth and we'd pretend that they were actual words.  His brother was born a few months shy of his second birthday and I distinctly remember that he couldn't say the word "baby."  I started to panic a bit.  Not that he was behind.  But that he wasn't ahead.

It was finally official.  In this area, he wasn't ahead.  He wasn't exceptional.  He wasn't proving how smart we were sure he was.

He eventually started to talk in an understandable manner, of course.  But even then, not perfectly.  He started learning his alphabet, but not quickly.  He started reading, but not without agonizing for what felt like hours over three letter words that he had just read ten seconds ago!

In this area, he was not exceptional.  He was not ahead.

But seven years and three kids later, I like to think I've learned a thing or two.  I like to think I know in a very real way that all kids are different.  That they have different strengths.  And that the value of those strengths comes not from school and not from society, but from their family.  From us.

Because he might not read chapter books, but sit him down with a piece of paper and he can make anything.  Three cookies and two kids?  He'll just take one then.  Finn needs help adding 1,750 and 820 forint?  He won't just tell him, he'll teach him.  He'll walk him slowly and patiently through every step until he arrives at the answer.

If you asked me at what age Benjamin walked, without looking back at the video, I honestly couldn't tell you.  If you asked me when he started saying single words, or stringing sentences together... I have no idea.  And it's not that I don't care as much about Benjamin.  Not at all.  It's that I care much less about these things.  I've learned after three kids that he will walk and talk and potty train and read when he's good and ready.  And not a second before.

Three kids and each one totally different.  All three exceptional to us, and yet probably not to the world.

But what does the world know anyhow?  Because my goals for my children have both grown and shrunk in the past seven years.  I still want healthy, and happy, but I also want kind, and patient, and generous.  I want them to try hard and do their best and to know that's enough.

I want them to understand deep in their being that the world doesn't have to tell you you're great.  And, as hard as you try, it probably never will.  So listen to me.  Listen to your dad.  Listen to God as he whispers that you were wonderfully made, that he has a plan for you.  That you are who you are for a reason.

I'm sorry I once cared so much about the things I now hope and pray my kids care nothing about.  Or very little, at least.  I'm sorry that I viewed these sacred, little lives as a competition for first.  For the best.  For, likely, a validation of my own life and motherhood.

But the truth is, my sons, you are exceptional.  There is absolutely no one else quite like you.  No one with your exact mix of caring and spunk and humor.  No one who is quite you.

And that you, well, it is, has been, and always will be, more than enough.


1 comment:

  1. I love this post...and needed this exact message today. Thank you!

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