After a lot of soul searching this summer, I’ve finally realized that it’s time for two of my three beans to start learning about the facts of life.
(Oh how I love any reason to wax nostalgic about 80's TV!)
No, not those facts. I am still avoiding discussions of those facts like the plague. In other words, taking the chicken’s way out. When I’m asked how my three beans got out of my belly, I take a minute to thank God for my three c-sections and then respond with complete honesty. “The doctor went in and got you out.” Technically true. And two weeks ago, when Sunshine asked me how she got INTO my belly, I stammered out some answer about mommies and daddies who love each other and God answering prayers. Go ahead and judge me if you like, I can take it. I know people who provide anatomically and biologically correct answers to any question regardless of age of child. I say “Good for you.” But not good for me. Not yet.
Please forgive the tangent. The facts of life I am talking about are of a different flavor. The flavor where as you go through life – and school – it becomes apparent that not everyone is going to be nice all of the time. And sometimes there’s no good reason why. Sometimes a kid – or a fellow mommy -- is just not going to like you and he or she will choose to be unkind to you. Sometimes people – big people as well as small people – just suck. (Much like intercourse, suck is also not a word I would use with my beans, but it illustrates my point better than any other word I could come up with on a Sunday night.)
Now my mama bear instinct is as strong as any other mommy’s – and given my natural tendency toward moderate to severe feistiness, a little stronger than some. Among my deepest desires is to protect my beans from being hurt. Physically hurt, of course, but also emotionally hurt. An undeniable truth of life is that the emotional hurts can cause scars that far outlast most physical injuries. Another undeniable truth – and one I’ve fought – is that neither can be completely avoided.
Boo boos are going to happen. Knees will be scraped, arms will be bruised, and even (please, not just yet) bones may be broken. Most, if not all, of the physical injuries will heal and be forgotten. Sure, there might be a story behind a scar in a boy’s eyebrow that will grow ever more epic over the course of time, but most will fade from skin and memory.
What I need to continually remind myself is that the emotional bumps and bruises will heal as well. That a bad day is just that – one day – whether it’s me or one of my beans having it. And just like I can’t prevent falls and scrapes and bruises, I also can’t prevent playground drama and cafeteria slights and fickle friends. I can’t – and more importantly, I shouldn’t.
The way I was put together coupled with the family in which I was raised make me a do-er. It’s painful for me to sit by and watch someone else do something I could jump up and do faster or more efficiently. And yes, it’s that kind of attitude that gets you saddled with most of the housework and dishes and dirty diapers. But sometimes God sends you a gem in the form of a laid back husband who ignores your assurances that you’ll “just do it myself” and does some of it anyway. And that’s a good thing J But being put together this way also means it’s very difficult to not jump in and solve and do and fix for my beans. Difficult, but not impossible, as long as I keep my eye on the goal.
The goal can be summed up in one word. CAPABLE. My wish for my beans is that they grow up to feel – and to truly be – capable. Capable of caring for themselves as well as for others. Capable of weathering the storms of daily life. I want all three of my beans – the thoughtful and sensitive Professor, the sweet and almost-too-trusting Sunshine and my feisty, spunky Pinky – to be able to stand up for themselves. To be able to handle themselves.
Now, will I be here to listen and help as needed? Yes. Absolutely and always yes. If I keep my goal in mind – and fight the instinct to over-help and do for them – I will guide instead of direct. I will advise instead of tell. It is my job to teach them the skills they need to become truly capable. To act -- and react -- appropriately and effectively. To know when to stand up and fight and when to walk away. And for me to know when to turn things over to their father when a calmer head is needed.
Being and feeling capable is the goal. Getting there will take time. And in the meantime, I can promise you that if one of my beans needs me – if someone truly does one of them wrong in a way they can’t/shouldn’t handle on their own – this mama bear will take care of business. J