This Christmas was one of the best I've had in recent memories. Why? Well I think it's because my family wasn't uptight or stressed. We just decided to enjoy each other's company. It was relaxed and fun, plus we had good food. The kids didn't have the one up feeling either so they enjoyed their classic and simple gifts.
One of the best gifts I received was a reminder from our priest. You see this past Sunday was the celebration of the Holy Family. Along with this came a wonderful reminder about appreciating our children for who they are, not who we want them to be. He recounted the story of a childhood friend whose dad often told her that she could be anything she wanted as long as it was a doctor. We've all heard the stories of parents trying to do a reboot on their own lives by living through their children. In the end our priests friend became a nurse and a mom, not a doctor.
Father Ken went on to remind us that we are the body of Christ and each of us is gifted differently as we serve a unique purpose. This world would be mighty boring if we were all the same. It made me take a good hard look at my children and my parenting.
I've learned that we can't parent our kids the same way. I always thought we'd be the "fair" parents that had the same rules for all of our kids. But I learned that a child over coming epilepsy may take a different style since she has to be reacquainted with the world. So here is my take on my three kids.
She is the one who picks up those who've been kicked. She has a friend that she has now deemed her "best friend" in school. This girl is certainly the underdog. This girl has not had the easiest time of it in any way you look at it. After 2 months of struggling with the "in" crowd to find re acceptance for herself, Izabella was finally granted admission. Then she paused as she realized her friend, had not found such acceptance. So what did my girl do...she put herself between the weaker girl and the "in" crowd. She stopped and asked the group to accept her friend. So, they did. It came to a point where this group of girls lost interest in isolating Bella, because Bella lost interest in them. She, on her own, decided that being popular wasn't important, but being a good person and a good friend was. Am I proud of my girl...you bet.
I think I admire her more for this because as a kid I was the underdog. I always hoped somebody would stick up for me, but none of my peers did. It wasn't until high school where I found an entire group of misfits that I finally fit in. Even despite keeping my nose out of the cool kids' sphere, it still seemed necessary to spread untrue rumors about me. I wish I had had a friend like Bella at that time in my life. All my friends heard the rumors and they themselves were too self conscious and, despite knowing the rumors were untrue, no one spoke up for me. Her empathy to others wows me at times. At other times her flair for the dramatic is irritating. But as Father Ken reminded...God has gifted her, just not the way I initially thought my children would be gifted. I also am amazed at how easily my daughter talks about Jesus Christ and how He died to save us. She has led other's in her group to prayer. I was never brave enough to do this at her age.
She has a strict definition of justice and right and wrong. Some things that kids at school do, she simply can't understand why someone would even do that. This is especially true if someone gets hurt. Alina just can't wrap her mind around doing that. Now don't get me wrong, if it's her sister, hauling off and whacking her when she's annoying seems ok. But random acts of violence, she doesn't get. Alina, is smart as a whip, and if it has rules she feels safe as she knows what to expect. That Logical mind is one of science or engineering, but her sense of justice is attorney like, and her smarts can take any one of those places. But her ultimate goal is to be a mom with culinary skills. She could be anything and she wants babies and to stay home with them. She told me just the other day that she feels lucky that her mom doesn't work because the kids whose mom's work have to go to child care after school and they don't like it. She told me, "thanks for that mom." Can you say tear up?
I can picture a future Alina, with her inquisitive nature sharing the wonder of the world with her children, she herself enjoying the natural order of things. I can also see her enjoying the chemistry of cooking and her getting sheer joy of preparing a culinary success for her family.
For some reason my boy has seemed a miracle to me before he ever came into the world. Perhaps it's because we lost a baby just before him and it struck my heart, and also made me realize that a pregnancy does not guarantee a child. Then we struggled to get pregnant again. We had decided if that month we weren't pregnant we were done trying. I couldn't handle the heartache every month and decided it would be best to just know we were not having another. Low and behold I was already pregnant when I made that decision. Maybe it's because I had been told that having had 2 girls we were likely to have another, and I love my girls but I really wanted a son too. All of these things added up to him stealing my heart the minute I saw him.
I admire the strength of spirit that is my son. I remember being told by the Dr.'s that his muscle tone at 16 months was that of a 1 month old. Yet somehow he had figured out a way to get around. It wasn't until later when I really watched him that I realized that he was very interested in everything, but getting to everything was hard for him, so he had developed methods to get there. First of all he scooted...but he couldn't get to the sitting position on his own...so he had developed a cue for me to put him in the sitting position (and I hadn't even realized I'd been trained). He then would get his sisters to get things for him that were out of his reach. I think the adversity he began life with strengthened his personality. This boy can walk into any crowd and will own it in a matter of minutes...just ask anyone. God granted him perseverance and my boy is no quitter. This is a true gift. Many have conjectured that he will become a doctor and find a cure for Mitochondrial disease. Who knows...maybe.
I have always said I would rather raise good people than the smartest or most beautiful. To me it's important for my kids not to be arrogant, self centered but rather to see other's needs and try to fill them. I watch all three of my kids in their own ways do this. Father's message was a good one to me as we recently got report cards and it's clear neither of my girls are top of their class. But I know for the most part they are trying their hardest. Best of all, I know they are treating others with kindness and for that I can be proud!!