Friday, June 19, 2015

On Growing Up & Growing Old

Dear Little M,

When I first started writing this blog you were a newborn, just hatched into the world. So much was unknown back then; I'd never been a mom before, and as much as I couldn't wait to be a mom- your mom- I also wasn't quite sure how exactly to be a parent. Add on that we'd just found out you were deaf? I felt a little bit like I was doggy paddling out in the middle of a large body of water with no rescue boat in sight. But then, because it's life, you just have to make your way and head into the unknown because the next day is bound to come whether you want it to or not.

I make a lot of mistakes as a mom and in all the other life parts too: as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. That's life too: we are human beings and so we mess up a lot, and then hopefully learn enough from the messing up to do it a little better the next time. There are so many days that I want to rewind and change what I've just said to you or Ruby because I know I didn't do it that well. I let my frustration or impatience come out of my mouth instead of kindness, grace and love. Sometimes I hear you scolding Ruby or talking back to me, and if I close my eyes it's my own voice I hear.

So here we are, seven years into life for you, seven years into parenthood for me.

Here you are on the first and last day of first grade.
It feels like this year sped by even faster than Kindergarten! In some ways I just want to freeze time, and keep you at this age forever. It's so much fun to be your mom, even though I still learn every day how to be a good parent to you and Ruby. But I also see how you are maturing, and I can't wait to find out who you become over time. 

This was a year jam packed with emotions- I am trying teach you to be patient, kind and to slow down when you feel all the big stuff coursing through your little body. You have so many feels: the joy, the grief, the frustration, the anger, the impatience, the delight. Lots of feelings, just like your mama. This year those feelings have intensified, and while you practice having those emotions and knowing what to do with them, I'm working on giving you good boundaries for how and when to show them. I don't always do that super well- sometimes I cut you off when you just need to try out your anger to see what happens, or I snuggle you when you really need some space. 

This was also a year full of learning! You had an amazing teacher (and two great student teachers) and every day you came home with new stories spilling out about what you'd learned that day. You are reading so well now, even though it's been a lot of really intentional for you! You soaked up new ways of doing math, discovered history, and loved science. You learned how to write your first essay with a begging, middle and end! You worked hard to speak up when you couldn't hear something in class, and you taught your classmates all about cochlear implants and being deaf. 

What makes me most proud is that aside from all of your growth academically and in the classroom, that your teacher told us how compassionate and thoughtful you are: you stick up for kids when they are being left out, you help others when they are hurt, and that you always include others.  
I'm so proud of who you are becoming as you navigate the world. Grateful for your laughter, your generosity, your sensitivity, your insight, your kindness, your tender heart, your imagination and bravery. 

I love being your mom, even when it's really hard and I feel like I'm botching all of it. There are days, hours, minutes, where I am at a loss because you are pushing so hard and I am reacting to everything you are saying and doing without taking pause to remember that you are a child, and that I am an adult, and that you need me to show you how to push appropriately. I'm sorry for the times I am more concerned with managing your behavior and getting you under control than I am with listening to what you really need, and in being patient, gentle and slow to anger. Forgive me for sometimes wanting the quick solution instead of the better route of compassion and positive discipline.
When it comes down to it, I think being a parent is a lot like being a kid. We are both trying to figure out how to be in this world, and how to take on every new stage with the tools we've got. We move toward each other and then away from each other, in different roles to be sure, but learning from each interaction.
I hope I'm teaching you well, my little one, how to engage life, how to mess up and ask for forgiveness, how to be wounded and still extend forgiveness, how to laugh at yourself, how to try over, how to stick to something, how to work hard, how to pray, how to ask for help, how to love others, how to feel confident in your own skin, how to use your words, how to share, how to know when to keep fighting and when to throw in the towel, how to be vulnerable and how to be strong. You're certainly teaching me all of those things just by being you. 


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