She is big hearted, has intense passions and has defied all my valiant and spirited attempts to turn her into my kind of child! I tell you that would have been most convenient. She turns nine in a few days’ time and so I reflect on being parent to her.
As my firstborn, she has been my parent…teaching me how to be mother, how to be the Christ follower I have always professed to be! Meaning, that she stretches my patience beyond reasonable elastic limit and it’s only fair I spare you the details of times when the aforesaid patience has finally snapped and left ugly consequences in its wake.
I do wonder whether the man upstairs chuckles at the fine joke he played on us, Peter and me. Two veritable introverts who enjoy nothing better than lounging at home with our heads burrowed in books and newspapers. And when we go out our idea of perfect is a well-planned, calm, controlled predictable evening quietly chatting away.
When we checked out of hospital nine years ago, our bundle of joy lived up to our expectations, happily settling into a routine of waking up, feeding and sleeping. This child hoodwinked us all into believing that she had an easy going nature! And we looked forward into a calm life of Sunday school lessons and reading classics together. Two and a half years later, “knock knock!, reality check” and her true colors emerged! Literally overnight! And sometimes when we have a moment we pause and remember that child and wonder what became of that her.
And faster than we could say butterfly, she morphed into someone who has made life much more complicated for us.
Her love of parties and company. Our Saturday evening routine goes something like, “Can we invite so and so”, mum responds, “I don’t think so” with a reasonable reason tucked in. “How about so and so?”, “I think it’s too late” I respond. Alternatively,” I don’t think they are available and the notice is too short anyway”, “Mum, you always tell me to try, to never give up”. And then I find myself fumbling to get myself out of the situation, casting imploring glances to the Dad hoping that he can unstick us and off course he will invariably be quite busy doing something else. There is nothing like a nice quiet evening with her. More is always merrier and she is always inviting and inventing reasons for us to have company and nothing fires her up more than the possibility of hosting someone for a meal or going somewhere with a big group of people. Suffice it to say we have probably become a more social family in order to save ourselves from all the explaining.
Love for drama. Every group of people looks like a potential cast for the play/drama/skit that’s been cooking in her head. Sooner than later her friends find themselves organized into drama troupe. I once had to save the day by directing seven littles acting “snowwhite and the 5 dwarfs” after she had confidently invited the neighbors for the premiere. Never one to run out of ideas, she seems to see life in 3-D. Oh, I know it is, but when the teacher asks you to make a short presentation on the water cycle, it would seem to me that a neat diagram on manila paper is good enough. But no, you will find this girl with some contraption where some cotton wool for clouds are held up with spaghetti, a yellow ball suspended for the sun and a yoghurt cup for a lake. And then we have to figure how to get it to school!
Of books and reading. A graduate school thesis can be written about our reading adventures with this child. Of all the reasons that make me wonder if possibly this child was switched in hospital (her resemblance to her grandma saves the day!), her attitude to reading carries most weight. Born in a family of keen readers, her best experience of reading seems to have someone read a book for her as she listens. In my attempts to make sure not all is lost I have taken to reading novels for her out loud. Today in her usual, full of great ideas manner she suggested that we get ourselves a ‘reader’, someone to be reading the books for us since mum is getting too tired. And I thought the irony was too great that she could not possibly imagine herself reading the books?!
Theology/hard questions; I have found myself fielding all manner of questions from why must she read to why can’t she wear that top which she has won every Sunday for the last four weeks (feels like ten). Will all muslims go to hell? This was after hearing a sermon on the last day. Does God give bad spirits after watching those silly lightening things on afro-cinema. What if God is just an idea we thought up? And he really does not exist? And on the unfortunate death of her piano teacher’s daughter she asked, “She was only four months, was God really ready for her?”
I could tell you about her loud voice that has woken up the neighbors at some less than convenient hour, or her love for making and giving cards for all occasions to everyone around her. How many times has she begged for a minute when we are leaving the house, only to go back and quickly put together a ‘happy birthday’, ‘We love you’ or ‘thank you card’? And how that drives me crazy because it gets us late, is often not perfectly done and why could you not have done it before??
That said; isn’t it amazing that God not only gives us what we want and ask for but also what we need and often have no clue that we do? That in this we are given a chance to reflect on the values that we mouth off all too easily and think about how we are actually living them?
I learn that an open table is better than a perfect one, that we can always send the invitation instead of assuming that the other person will not be available. That we should not wait for the day of perfection to express our creativity and that the thought matters even when the gift is not perfect.
And that apparent academic success is not everything we should aim for…or is it? How does a former nerd who always received academic performance accolades make peace with the fact her child will not follow those footsteps?
It also helps me appreciate my husband and fellow parent and all those other people around us who provide to our children what is not in our temperament to give. I now appreciate the spontaneous party loving people in my life more all the more.
I appreciate that parenting is as much for the child as for the mother.
Sharing is caring