It’s not easy for me to pinpoint a specific parenting moment that somehow taught me everything I needed to know about what it means to be a mom. There are so many little things that add up each day in which I have to face myself – my fears, my prejudices, my weaknesses, etc. I can look in retrospect since the first day I brought our little Felicity home from the hospital in 2010 and realize how much I have grown, matured, and how I see life differently.
But the one aspect of motherhood that has really hit home to me came once our Sarah was born with Apert syndrome. I’ve noticed a lot of parents expect their children to be perfect, or at the very least, capable of achieving great things in life. This is a noble aspiration and indicates that good parents want good things for their kids.
But what happens when you have a child that is less than perfect, a child that may never reach your expectations in life? For me, raising two girls with very different special needs, particularly Sarah’s rare disease, has taught me to allow my children’s personalities to unfurl naturally and not to force them to be someone they are not.
This might mean that they will never be soccer stars, breathtaking artists, or super smart CEOs, but if I can help them reach their full potential – whatever that might be – then I know I have done well for them. My husband and I long ago realized two things: one, that it wasn’t our fault if our kids had “problems” like low muscle tone, sensory processing disorder, or a genetic condition that causes other impairments; two, that our children are beautiful gifts as they are, not as we hope they will become.
If there’s one thing I could tell parents, it’s to just love your kids. Don’t worry so much about them reaching every developmental or academic milestone for their age. Don’t be too concerned about higher education and academic success. Instead, take each day as a gift that you’ve been given with your children and see them for who they are – their gifts, their struggles, their potential. Then you can best guide, coach, and mentor them to live happy, fulfilling lives. In turn, you will be fulfilled, too.
Text and Image (c) 2017 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved. Image created using Canva.