Tonight I was all sorts of anxious, I was fuming and frustrated and ….well scared, really. If motherhood has brought me anything to counter the love that overwhelms me so much I can hardly swallow the lump in my throat that said love brings (abundantly) it is fear. From the moment that I was presented with the tiny bundle that was my first born I’ve known that the two go together.
My first feeling at that moment was love- pure blissed out, over the top love and almost at the same time fear so real it constricts my chest to even think about it. My first thoughts were, “Oh my lord that child is actually mine!” and “Oh my Lord,that child is mine, how could you trust me with such a precious infant? Do you even realize who I am?”
And that’s pretty much how our journey has been up to this moment. I am abundantly thankful and still somewhat unbelieving that I was ever given such two precious charges. I’m also just a little horrified that anyone would actually trust me to know what to do with them.
I’m me. I unpack bread when I come home from the grocery store and then forget where I’ve put it an hour later when I want to make sandwiches. (Usually it’s in the refrigerator if one of the kids asked for juice or in the microwave if it was open and the counter was full or even possibly the oven (same reason) although if my mom called it could be in our garage or even bedroom because it’s impossible for me to stand still if you insist and making me speak on a telephone. )
I’m babbling, I’m sorry, the point is that I’m always stuck between that overwhelming love feeling and the crippling fear that I really have no idea what I am doing when it comes to my kids. Always. And last night after dinner the kid told me something that made those two flood me once again.
You see she’s been having trouble at school off and on and I know this. Not grade-wise, grade-wise she’s gold. It’s these little girls in her class basically trying to make her conform to the ideas that someone has made them conform to. And it makes me angry. It makes me angry that I even felt angry towards them in the first place for even a second, because children do not think of these things on their own- these are ideas that are drilled into them by others. It’s not them at all.
It’s not even something that should be a big deal. The kid likes Scooby doo and Spider man and learning about scientific things like bugs and dinosaurs and planets. And she has a group of people telling her that these things are wrong. She’s supposed to like girly things like Hello Kitty; she’s supposed to be crazy with Bieber fever. It’s crazy that she isn’t allowed to watch Victorious because now she can’t hang out with them at recess and talk about how great Kat is. (She’s in Kindergarten for crying out loud.)
And I deal with all of it the same way all of the time. I tell her she is awesome and that people are all different. I tell her that if everyone was the same the world would be a very boring place. And she seems to get it. She seems fine about the whole thing- even to the point where she keeps taking her lunchbox with Scooby on it to school. She keeps taking her books about bugs or dinosaurs that make her light up hoping; hoping that someone will get what makes her excited too. And then I pick her up from school on those days and watch her walking back to me a little dejected, the bounce in her step replaced by doubting.
And I’m scared because fitting in bothers her- I’m scared to death that she’ll give away some of what makes her her in order to quiet those louder voices, in order to gain their approval.
Or the flip-side: I’m worried that I’ve somehow impacted how she views the world or that I’ve made going out into the world harder for her because while I’ve never really fit in anywhere myself, that’s never really bothered me but it really seems to bother her.
I always shake those thoughts away because she is who she is. How can I push her to be someone else or push her to be like me? She likes some things that I like but disagrees with me violently over others. (She’s always loved Spider man for instance, over my lifelong love of Batman. And she’s always loved clowns even though they scare the pants off me.)
Tonight though I understood why some parents might push their children to embrace “the norm”. She told me about something that had happened a while ago at school but that was still bothering her and it killed me to watch her eyes filling up as she confided in me. At that moment I got it. I got why some parents push their children towards things that will make them fit in better and away from things that might make them stick out. They don’t want them to be bullied or made fun of, they want them to have friends- they do it to make life easier for them.
One of the girls that gives the kid the hardest time about Scooby doo actually liked to watch Scooby doo when she was younger. At the beginning of the school year she told my daughter that her mother had told her that Scooby Doo was for boys so she should give away all of her toys, books and dvds to a younger cousin who happened to be a boy.
And we’ve used that to make the kid understand why this little girl likes to pick on her. To understand why I feel like it’s important for her to find the things that bring her joy and embrace them but also to understand that not everyone is given that option. That not being given that option makes them angry at those who have it.
It’s all we can do. We talked about it- I hug her and let her pick that night’s movie. I ignore the voice that tells me to “make it easier for her.” Because in the end she has to be herself, it’s the person who she will spend most of her time with, after all. And I’d rather her find the true happiness in realizing who that person is than the fleeting happiness and then pain of trying to be someone who she isn’t.
(But it’s all still kind of scary.)