First Day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Just like that, summer is behind us and a new school year is upon us.  Frankly, I have no idea where the summer went.  I can account for about five days of it (spent at Disneyland!), but the rest of it is a blur.  That's okay though.  We're happy to return to the predictability of school -- they go the same place every day at the same time with the same people, and that's good for all of us.


First grade and fourth grade this year.  They know the school, they know where the restrooms and water fountains are, they know many of the kids and teachers.  So although they are in new classrooms with new teachers and a new group of students, much of it is familiar and comfortable. 


As I filled out the hopes-and-dreams paperwork for teachers yesterday, I realized that I didn't have a lot to say.  There's so much more to worry about when one or the other starts kindergarten, or when it's all brand new.  But we've done this once or twice now.  The hopes and dreams start to repeat themselves.

I find myself thinking big picture -- I hope they will be confident in their abilities and capabilities, I hope they will be comfortable with who they are and like themselves, I hope they will find learning fun and engaging.  



And although the paperwork asks about hopes and dreams for students, I can't help but think about the teachers.  I hope the teachers will get to see the best sides of our kids, that our kids will make their teachers smile and laugh as they do us, that the teachers will feel inspired and motivated by these little creatures whose futures are so bright.

I've got high hopes for a great year for these two and their lucky teachers.


My kids are not perfect.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Obvious, right?  Nobody's kids are.  Nobody is.  It's not news and the realization shouldn't stop us in our tracks.  


But sometimes it does.

Kids are always doing less-than-perfect things.  They fuss and whine, they refuse to sleep when they should, they take forever to put on their shoes, and on and on and on.  But they're learning and developing and becoming more independent, and it's all part of the growing process.  So really those are not imperfections, that's just learning to be a human.


All kids have some physical imperfections too, though I'm pretty convinced that term is all wrong because it implies there's a perfect person out there (there's not).  Nevertheless, we've all got things that make us who we are -- a mole here or there, uneven eyes, long toes, whatever.  As parents, we notice these things about our children, but they're usually not terribly hard to accept, even if they're not our favorite features, because everybody's got something.  


But to hear a doctor talk about your child's life-changing condition, even if not life-threatening, that's different.  It feels like a kick in the gut, and for a moment, the world stops turning and everything comes to screeching halt with the painful realization that my child really is not perfect.  My child with the pencil-lead tattoo on her jawline, who takes forever to brush her hair but is perfect in my eyes -- she is not perfect.  My freckled child with the stubby toes, who can't keep up with his things but is perfect in my eyes -- he is not perfect.

Why is that so hard to hear, when of course we know that our kids are not perfect?  

I think it's because, in a few words, a professional has said that there is something big that we cannot save our child from.  There's nothing we can do to prevent it, or if there were, it's too late now.  Nothing we can do.  Nothing.  

We can hold our child's hand, we can show love and strength and resilience, we can help our child through what we all wish were different. As a parent, that doesn't feel like enough.  It feels like we've lost control.  It feels like we've failed because we want so badly to protect our children, save them from harm, and give them every opportunity in the world for the best possible future.  That's what we spend our days doing and our nights worrying about.  But it doesn't matter.  All the love in the world and the best parenting in the world couldn't change this.

I suppose this imperfect reality is all part of the parenting journey, something we each have to experience at some point, something we each have to come to in time.  For some parents, it comes early, before a baby is born.  For others, some sort of diagnosis stops us in our tracks and reminds us that so much about our children and their future is out of our control.  For some, it comes later, when children are growing up and taking charge of their own lives.  And some are forced to accept much worse -- infertility, life-threatening illnesses and conditions, even the loss of a child.

Maybe it's not just a step along the parenting road; maybe parenting is a process of accepting this lack of control in bits throughout the journey, one kick in the gut after another.  I suppose part of parenting is learning to let go and accept that our children are not really ours and that, as they are their own people, they have to face their own challenges and accept their own limitations that we are powerless to change.  Our job as parents is to love them and give them the tools and support they need to do that.  

But when I'm sitting in a doctor's office and talking about my imperfect child's imperfect future, that's not the job I want.  I don't want to have to tell myself how lucky I am because others have it much worse.  I just want the job of a fairy godmother who can, in a few magic words, make it all disappear.


A few months later, when I'm sitting in a different doctor's office and talking about my other child's very real imperfections, all I can think about is wanting to make it go away.  Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.


Unfortunately, I'm no fairy godmother.  I'm just a mother who's world temporarily stopped turning, who's trying to figure out how to pick myself up and march on.  A mother who's only magical power is love and hope, who wants the best for her kids, no matter how imperfect they may be.


All photos courtesy of the lovely and talented Sarah of Sincerely, Sarah Photography.