A Rare Visit From the Wise Mommy

There’s a story that I’d like to tell, but I can’t because it’s not 100% my story. And the cute little someone that has the right to the rest of the 100%, well, I don’t think this person would really want me telling the story. (This is the kind of thing that would produce great embarrassment in the teenage years.) So I’ll just have to give a short summary and then skip to the end.

Summary: Embarrassing event caused me to overreact and freak out on a major scale, assuming that my kid was now doomed.

End: The wise part of me finally made herself heard amidst all the ruckus and taught the dumbass part of me a tiny lesson in being a mother. (Tiny not in its level of importance, but in its relative proportion to the number of lessons I must be taught on an ongoing basis.) It went something like this.

Parenting is a difficult job because we are definitely supposed to be molding our children (to be polite, to be considerate, to not pee on the wall). But at the same time, we are also definitely supposed to be letting them develop into their own unique selves (you know, not forcing the next Mikhail Baryshnikov to be a doctor or a lawyer or a CPA). These two ideas are sometimes at odds with each other, or they might appear to be, or at the very least they leave me confused a good chunk of the time.

In my own experience as a parent, there are times when I see certain characteristics in my children, and a huge internal voice shouts commands at me in a scary octave: THIS MUST BE ERADICATED. THIS IS A WEAKNESS. DESTROY. DESTROY. And then I get all uncalm, and what follows is the footage that would surely make it onto my Supernanny shameful parenting video. (I live in fear of that thing, as if Supernanny and Candid Camera might one day collaborate.)

So here’s what the wise me told the dumbass me this morning, and had me feeling all choked up: These characteristics in your kid that leave you all panicked? Well, guess what? They’re a lot like characteristics you possess. (Identical actually.) You are those things that make you so afraid. Are they weaknesses? Yes! Sure thing. But the world hasn’t eaten you for dinner quite yet; it doesn’t even seem like it’s going to, ever. And despite all the evidence to the contrary, you like yourself, weaknesses and all. They’re part of the whole package, good with the bad, all jumbled up and stuck together like a plate of dry capellini. So perhaps this little person is going to make it through OK, too. Perhaps they’ll be spared the falling anvil or the even-worse playground mocking. Or even if they aren’t spared, they’ll make it through anyway, just like you always have.

It’s not so bad, suffering. It can teach a person a thing or two, actually. (Even if those persons are my kid, cringe.) You know what they say, what doesn’t kill them only makes them stronger.

Unless it does kill them of course. I still have that to worry about. We live by a very busy street.

© Amy Daniewicz

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