Thursday, November 8, 2012
Watch Her Bloom
We often think of childhood as a slow progression of learning, ideally culminating in a fully developed and happy person. But it never really happens that way. Learning and growing both seem to ebb and flow, jump, stop, go backwards, and spiral around until finally out pops a person. Even the ending is a bit of a joke, because really, are we ever really done with the whole process? Right now the littlest one in the house is simply leaping forward. She's running, and trying to sing, she's finding her shoes when she wants to go outside, asking for kisses, and she's trying to keep up with everything her brother and sister are doing. The little person she is becoming is simply beaming out of her.
Recognizing this emerging spirit is something the rest of us in the house are trying oh so hard to be aware of, because, well, this little lady is funny. If I could only learn to laugh at myself as much as she does, it would be so much easier to go through life with a smile on my face. She just lights up at every little thing and simply glows when Hadley and Finley are nearby.
As much as I like to think that my actions as a mother are the ultimate force in forming this little life, her biggest steps forward seem to come when I let her lead the way. Of course I will never discount all the things we as mothers do to guide and direct our children, but these little ones are capable of so much. Just like so many other times in my life, I am constantly adjusting my vision of motherhood to the reality of mothering. I remember thinking that I would raise my children to do this or that, and always act this way or that way, and even to think and value things the way I think about things. And to some extent I still think that providing children with certain experiences and limiting other experiences is a good thing, but at the same time, I'm letting go of that perfection of parenting.
For this little one, the best I can hope is to let her know she is loved and valued, and to provide her with consistent guidelines in which to live her life. In my mind I picture it as if the child is hiking a mountain, and my job is simply to keep her from walking off the side. My job's not to tell her which trail to take, or where to take a break, or who to hike with, or even if she needs to get to the top, my job is to pack her some snacks, and then simply sit back and watch. Because the person she is and the person she's becoming is not my choice.
She is funny, and happy, and beautiful, and stubborn, and strong, not because I've made her that way, but simply because that is who she is, and I am lucky enough to be along for the ride.