In trying to make myself feel like a better mom, I really blew it with my kids.
The thing about Lorelei and Gryffin is that, in many areas, they seem to lag behind their peers. And I let it bother me.
While all the other girls in dance class do their perfect renditions of Swan Lake, Lorelei is chasing feathers from her boa and taking her twirl five seconds too late, skipping three other moves in the process. At soccer, I actually overhear other parents of soccer stars criticizing my parenting (I don't practice with her enough) because she can't dribble (is that the right word??) as well as their daughters... in voices just loud enough to make sure I hear their disapproval. A calculated attack.
While all the other boys are speaking in clear sentences and honing their fine motor skills with precision, Gryffy is struggling to put final consonants on his words, still doesn't use most contractions in speech, and hasn't even picked a hand to favor. And while the other kids are writing their full names, he can barely write his first letter.
Don't get me wrong, my kids have plenty of strengths too--you'll never find more thoughtful, kind, loving kids. Lorelei is doing excellent at her reading, memory verses, violin and art, and Gryffy has an imagination, knack for jumping all the way from the coffee table to the couch five feet away, and self-sufficiency that astounds me--he even wipes. Yes, wipes. And Gryffy, at 3, can almost ride his bike without me holding on.
The problem is, I get so caught up on the abilities my kids lack that I let comparison creep in, and I shame myself. I hear this voice (yes, those soccer parents' voices) saying, "You don't do enough to teach them; it's your fault; if only you were a better parent." And out of my own self-blame, I get frustrated... at my kids.
It reared its ugly head yesterday when I was trying so desperately hard to help Lorelei overcome her fear of riding a bike that I became overbearing. She is so close, and yet it's the grip of fear that stops her every time. I get mad about this. Mad at her fear, yes, but mostly, mad that she doesn't measure up to my expectations (who's really afraid?), which I've adopted from the expectations and experiences of others. She needs time, but I'm too begrudging to give it. And what's meant to be a joy of childhood freedom becomes a battle that binds joy. And it's not right. And it's not good.
I apologized to Lorelei last night for being so demanding with the bike, gave her a hug, and told her I would work on being more kind and patient with her. She didn't seem too battle worn, but my spirit ached inside of me. Why do I yearn so much for the approval of others?
Yesterday, I heard something that cut me to the quick. Powerful words that spoke such truth that they stung me:
"GOD, BAPTISE ME IN THE CRITICISM OF MAN TO INOCULATE ME FROM THE APPROVAL OF MAN."
Can I get an Amen?! (Oh wait... I'm asking for approval again :o)
Today, I'm wading into those vulnerable waters, washing off my toxic need for approval, and restoring joy. Because life's too short to worry about dribbling a damn soccer ball.
To the Canaries
5 weeks ago