The idea that parents don’t have a favourite child is ridiculous! Of course we have favourite children. Both of my Children are my favourite.
What strikes me again and again about my children is how they are so Other. It becomes habit to count them into the whole, part of the unit that makes up “me”. Life is so busy and we are all busy shuffling them along in our heads as part of ourselves. But SURPRISE! They are not a part of us.
I will look at my children and be so amazed by what complete individuals they are. Every time I think I have them pinned in my head, every time I think I have figured out who they are, they change! They grow. Every day they have different ideas, different needs and different desires. Every day I look at these aliens in my house and I wonder who they are.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suffering form of bonding issues with my children. I am just so bewildered by them.
My daughter has such vastly different tastes to me. She is so strong and fiery! Fiercely loving and kind, she is also so oblivious to people’s shortcomings, so convinced of their innate brilliance, that she tends to be able to bring out the best in them, and even anti-social people can’t help being swept up in her enthusiasm.
My son is just reaching an age where he is finally speaking in full sentences and it has been the most astounding series of revelations as I am finally hearing what is going on inside of his head. He is such a boy!
Most amazing of all is that here are these two people, in my house, who are exactly that, people. They do not experience life as I do just because they are with me; they experience everything as they do, from their own perspective.
I am not shaping them as people, what a ridiculous notion! I am just watching the people they already are open up and unfold. It’s like those little bath beans we had as kids, you don’t know what they are going to be until the gelatine capsule melts. You have an idea, you know if you bought the forest friends or the dinosaurs pack, but you just don’t know what will be inside each one until it’s out.
What’s huge for me is that they see themselves in the mirror of my reactions to them as well. Far more harrowing than the responsibility of making sure that they are fed and clothed and provided for (which any working single mother can tell you is scary enough) is the responsibility of making sure that they see the brightest, shiniest, truest form of themselves through me.
When you are tired and stressed and you can’t fathom the energy to make yourself a cup of tea but you still have a full evening ahead, and this small person comes to you and says “who am i?” in their own little way. There is only one answer. You are brilliant! You are beautiful! You are Fantastic! You are You!
I have a little trick, a little way out for myself when it all seems like an insurmountable pressure to possibly do right by these two amazing individuals; when all else fails, make them laugh!
I hope that no matter how badly I stuff up or how many times I lose my temper that the one thing they will remember most about their childhoods when they are all grown up (aside from being loved) is that they laughed. Laughter will be the bridge between my “other” ness and theirs.