Oh mama, I can almost see you. Sitting in the cold dark of 3 am, sleepless again as you’ve been every night for nearly 10 months. You run your hand over your swollen belly, whispering secrets through the blaring silence to a baby you haven’t met yet. And you, making silent promises to the universe month after month, praying this will be your time, even as the clock hands spin and you begin to view your life in cycles rather than days. I see you too, navigating your way through a sea of paperwork and disappointment and anticipation in hopes of bringing home the child you want so badly. Yes, I see you there, no matter how you come to be called mama or daddy. The wait is crushing. The hope ebs and flows. Until (and I wholeheartedly wish this for all of you who’ve ever wanted to be a parent) you hold that child in your arms for the first time.
The road to the destination feels so long that by the time you get there, it’s hard to remember it’s only the beginning. Now, in the maze of firsts and lasts, milestones and budding personalities, it’s quiet enough to hear the shudder of expectations we told ourselves we would never have. Listen closely to that murmur…did you have a vision of what parenting would hold for you? Dreams of who your child might be?
There are plenty of things we can comfortably predict in this world: Odds, the weather. But our children don’t fit in that list. We cannot ascribe them a place in life safely under the crushing weight of our dreams or society’s dull walls. Our job is to oversee their potential, to guide their passion, to protect them from those who would dull their shine. When we take the time to tune into those preconceived notions, we can evict those toxic thoughts from taking up valuable space in our lives. We can let our children be the best versions of themselves.
So often there are stories. This post was spurned by a story I read this morning about a little boy made fun of at school by an ADULT for wearing socks with hearts on them. How sad that a child is made to feel like an outcast for making a harmless choice based on his interests–and by a parent of another child, no less. This is a small scale incident indicative of a much larger problem. Differences are attacked. Diversity is feared. In an effort to protect our greatest loves from ever experiencing the pain of feeling unusual, we are pushed to help them conform, to help them blend in–when we should be teaching them to fall in love with themselves. We should be celebrating the discrepancies between what we thought parenting might feel like and what it actually is.
And most importantly, no matter how different this journey is from what you may have planned, never stop reminding your babies every second that they are perfect just as they are. Tell them you love them until they beg you to stop, but don’t you ever stop. With your confidence, they’ll be even greater than you ever dreamed…they’ll help make the world a more beautiful, welcome place.