I feel like I should write some awe-inspiring, thought-provoking, poetic post that recaps my past year or invites my new year.
I’m going to go ahead and not do that.
I don’t need that kind of pressure. And, honestly, I just don’t want to. But here’s something I would like to share.
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this year. I’ve had wonderful days. I’ve had horrible days. *yawn* Who hasn’t? I’ve also learned a lot from my experiences throughout the year.
Of all the things I’ve learned, however, the greatest was unintentional. That’s my favorite kind.
My 8-yr-old son, who is beautiful and kind, thoughtful and sensitive, smart and funny, is also a bit quirky. He struggles. He has difficulties. Still, he is all of those things I mentioned. He is also strong. Not physically. It’s his inner strength that amazes me. And, somehow, he doesn’t use that strength to shield himself or block out the world.
To others, he may seem weak or unsure or odd or insecure but he is not. He is the strongest person I know.
I will go into the New Year holding a picture in my mind and attempting to keep its message with me. Because, at forty-one years old, I needed to be taught by my 8-yr-old son.
This shirt is the lesson. The fact that my son picked this out himself when he was seven is the lesson. That he wears it with confidence is the lesson. He is my lesson.
I write a lot about pushing my kids—about when to step back and let them do things for themselves.
That’s because I am either pushing them, feel like I should push them, wonder if I should have pushed them, or regret pushing them. It’s dizzying, I know.
This is one of the worst parts of parenting. Should I give in and make things easier for my child or should I push him past his comfort zone? I must decide. And I don’t often have a lot of time in these situations. In the moment, I just want to help him. When do I stop “helping”?
I have to make these decisions too often.
It hurts me. It doesn’t always work. I feel like a horrible mother.
Sometimes, though, it hurts me, it does work, and I feel like a horrible mother.
A horrible mother who did some minor thing right. This time. Some minor thing that may or may not help my child in the future.
I was struggling to write this post when I found something online. I remember seeing this but I had forgotten how powerful it was. I cannot bring enough words together in the right way to describe this. Everything I would have said, could possibly have written, to help you understand, is in this clip.
The post about My World was difficult to write. It made me feel vulnerable. It also made me wonder why I feel the need to be thankful for people who are not insensitive and unkind to my children.
Instead of being grateful for the times people behaved well, I’m grateful for the times people did not behave badly. It seems like the same thing, but the focus is different.
The times when people are not close-minded, rude, indifferent, or mean are so few.
I’ve always tried to change the way things are. Now I question myself. Should I continue to try to educate and enlighten people? Should I try to change the world in some small way? Or should I concentrate my efforts on home and prepare my children to venture out into this world?
I never felt like this was a decision I had to make. I foolishly thought I could do both. Why, now, do I feel like I have to choose?
This year, as always, I am grateful for the big things like the fact that I have a home, food, and clean water. I am grateful for my family and my friends.
And I am grateful for the little things, like chocolate, wine, sushi, and books.
I write this the day before I hit “publish” because I had a different post planned for Thanksgiving. Something like the Yam Sham I wrote last year.
I have to post this instead.
I want to thank:
the woman who didn’t glare at my son when her daughter was being loud and my son cringed and covered his ears because he can’t stand loud noises
the hairdresser who didn’t become irritated with my son for crying because he was uncomfortable in the chair and afraid she would cut him
the hairdresser who didn’t embarrass my (other) son for not recognizing her because he has trouble remembering faces
the waitress who didn’t scoff when my son got upset about his burger arriving with a bun because he can’t eat burgers that way (she got him extra fries after taking the bun away)
the child at the playground who didn’t laugh at my son when he was stuck at the top of the slide because he was scared but couldn’t figure out how to climb down the ladder
the woman at the grocery store who noticed my son’s shifting and fidgeting and flapping and didn’t hesitate before complimenting his patience during the long wait because it’s impossible for him to stand still
the man in line at the post office who didn’t ignore my children when one son spelled “antidisestablishmentarianism” and started chatting about atoms and quarks while my other son gave him a detailed weather forecast for the next ten days
the dental hygienist who didn’t scowl at my son when he broke down because she was new and he didn’t know her
the woman in the waiting room who didn’t roll her eyes when she asked my son what grade he was in and he answered that he was in 2nd but taking an accelerated 5th grade math class at Stanford University because he doesn’t understand that many people think he is bragging or lying
the group of boys who played with my son and didn’t mock him for flapping his hands because he was excited
the man at Starbucks who didn’t make a big deal that my son’s birthday cookie coupon had expired because my son needed that cookie to be a “special” cookie
Strangers. I am thankful for the kindness of strangers. People who have no knowledge of who my children are or what struggles they face. This is how the world should be. And, occasionally, this is how the world is.
I am grateful.
I don’t often say this, but when it comes down to what my world is, it is this:
My Two Boys
This is my world. And if I can believe, even for a day, that the outside world might be kinder, more compassionate, better than I think it is, I will be happy. Because I will know that my two boys might live in a place that will not crush them.
Even as I work to prepare them and help them become stronger, I am terrified of letting them go into this world. I hope that my two boys might live in a place that will show them the kindness that they show others.
These strangers have given me hope. I am grateful.