Sun is shining, white puffy clouds amidst a beautiful blue sky. Sand in my hair and children laughing, shrieking, crying. I must be at the playground. As April comes to a close the realization hits me that I will be here quite often the next few months. I make a mental note to prepare good snacks and portable lunches – not just for the kids but for myself. I decide I may need a new summer skirt and a new shade for my toenails. Not necessities of course – but with every new season comes new schedules, tasks, adventures, learning curves and new ways to take care of yourself.
My daydream is interrupted as I hear the frustrated tone of our oldest son Xander (4) coming from the play structure. I look over and see him “directing” the play of his little brother and two other kids. There was a time where I might have rushed over to give him a quick pep talk on “how to make friends”. But those days are over since I’ve learned the difference between what I know and what I’ve been told. The scrolling voices (“Nobody likes a bossy child”) are not my own. And I very much appreciate his ability to control and create stories or adventures. This is part of who he is and I love him for it. I love his fearlessness. I love his will to lead and his flair for igniting excitement in others. Why would I ever want to change that for fear of someone reacting badly? So, I hang back – close enough to “mom” the situation if needed or take mental notes for later discussion. But all I see is joy, simple and free. A group of children being themselves with each other, learning how to interact and for the most part – Loving each other for who they are, now.
Moments later I see Silas (almost 3) running off on his own. He gets these ideas and rushes off to attempt something. Nothing can stop him, I have tried and failed. Not because I don’t love him for who he is. I overflow with love for his ability to accomplish things, his ability to overcome obstacles and push himself beyond limits. As “Mama” I was always afraid of him getting hurt. But worry is just our imagination creating things we don’t want to happen. So I allowed him to explore. And I learned to trust in “his” intuition. Holding back the over Mommying and making sure I’m only there when he needs me to be. Yes, he gets some bumps and bruises. He falls – but he always gets back up and tries again. If I were to step in and make my voice louder than his intuitive voice – what would he hear when I’m not around?
It’s getting late. Food is running low, cheeks are rosy red and emotions are heightened. Its been a long day of playing. Its been hours of me figuring out how to guide them by allowing their actions to enlighten me. I’m starting to gather our things when I see a little fella of 1 or 2 walk up to Xander and hit him. Not provoked, not even hard or malicious – just the testing boundaries kind of hitting I’m sure we all have witnessed. I’m too far away to say anything and not even sure that I need to, but worry (there’s that word again – See! nobody is perfect) that Xander might be getting angry and reactive. So, I start to walk over and see the little hand continuing to smack at my child. I stop in my tracks and watch as Xander gently grabs his hand and says “Baby, don’t hit. Hug instead.” He repeats this over and over again until the little fella finally hugs him back and then walks away.
He didn’t know I was watching and this certainly wasn’t anything I had “taught” him to do. But I was well aware of how he learned it. His innate kindness that he was born with, his loving spirit that is given the space to shine – mixed together with the kind of family and home we strive to assemble.
Piece by piece we assemble this REAL family – where mistakes are made, lessons are learned and we allow each other to be exactly who we are. We walk together, each on our own journey but fully respecting the experiences of the other. We stay present and enjoy all the moments. We stay connected at our hearts and notice when there are disconnections, only to grow stronger as we repair the breaks along the way. And we do hugs… lots and lots of hugs.
A.C.T. (Action Changes Things):
Is your voice louder than your child’s (intuitive) voice?
Stepping in? Stepping over his?
What would he hear if you weren’t around?
Next time you want to “voice over” your child, first breathe.
Breathe in, out, through the moment.
Take as many breaths as you need to resist stepping in for “the rescue”.
Perhaps your little one will surprise you, work it out his way,
and get a result better than you could have ever imagined.
If you catch yourself making your voice louder than your child’s AFTER the fact,
take note and try again. Practice. Again and again. In time it’ll be second nature.
Find Your Way,
Jess Thompson, get REAL mama