It’s Not You, It’s Me
July 2nd, 2012
I think it’s vital that all moms have at least one close friend who can speak truth into their life. Parenting is tough work. It wraps you up in knots, shatters your self-confidence, and takes years from your life — even as it is making the years you do have infinitely more joyous than you could have imagined. You can’t do it alone.
Last night, I was on the phone with one such dear friend, talking about Brave Girls or the lack thereof. Her daughter is about 8 months older than Miss Mouse and much of what I know of parenting, I’ve learned from her experiences.
She recounted a story that floored me and unleashed a beacon of light. She and her daughter were at swim lessons and her daughter wasn’t participating (sound familiar?). This mom confided that she felt really embarrassed by her daughter’s display, but then stopped to ask herself why it mattered. Who cares if the random swim instructor thinks your kid is less than perfect?
I realized immediately that I often find myself in That Place. I know that I have a wonderful, amazing, brilliant, friendly, outgoing, and generally awesome daughter. But she doesn’t always show that side to the world. And when she’s throwing a fit at swim lessons or at daycare, I am embarrassed. No one wants to be “that mom” with “that kid” and I realized my reactions to her behavior stem more from my own desire to MAKE others see her the way I see her, and less from a genuine desire to help her though the situation.
And that is totally my problem. Not hers.
On the way to swim lessons tonight, we had a chat.
“So, Miss Mouse,” said I. “Are you going to jump into the pool for Miss Sue (our friend from church who comes to lessons with us so I can manage Buggie) tonight?”
“No,” replies my daughter. “Are you going to be mad at me if I don’t jump in?” (Cue the mother guilt.)
“No, sweetie. I will be thrilled if you jump in, but if you don’t want to, that’s fine too. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want. You don’t even have to get in the water if you don’t want to.”
Guess what? She had her best lesson ever. She leaped from the side, floated on her back with no assistance, and even managed a two-foot solo dog paddle all by herself.