In the unmapped wilderness of raising children, it’s easy to grow short-sighted. I’m guessing it’s the “can’t see the forest for the trees” mentality. Basic needs come first. Snacks, playtime, naps. These become the rhythmic wheel rolling through our days.
Sometimes I forget, in the warm darkness of the twins’ nursery, or the quiet moments before I tuck my toddler into bed, that I’m raising people.
That my children are not going to be babies forever.
That they will continue to tack words into their vocabulary, and memorize skills with their tender hands and feet.
That they will, inevitably, need more lessons than I can teach and will go out into the world, eager to learn more.
I’m part of a Facebook group of twin mamas. This group posts their everyday questions, frustrations, and joys of raising twins so that by sharing our own experiences, we can create a collective of knowledge.
A week back, one of the mothers posted a story and prayer request. Her six-year-old son was involved in his first summer activity camp experience this week. Being the awesome mother that she is, she signed him in, pretended to leave, and then came back to observe how he did.
The story was hard. Her little boy bravely walked toward the group of kids already playing, and stood around the edges of the activity. After a while, he walked back over to the front gate and rested his chin on the top bar, waiting for the other three kids he knew to show up. Meanwhile, no one came up to him. No one invited him to play. After twenty minutes of knowing her son was unhappy, the mother quietly approached one of the group coordinators and asked him to introduce her son to some of the other kids his age. At that point her son saw her, so she knew she had to leave.
The mom ended her story with a brief reminder and plea. She told us that twins are special because they always have a built-in playmate – which means they have an extra measure of security in social situations. It also means we as parents should really encourage our twins to be inclusive, and to seek out kids on the outskirts and invite them in.
This all seems so far off. My main concerns of the day are whether or not my twins are ever going to learn how to drink from a sippy cup.
I forget the sippy cup is going to turn into a plastic cup, and eventually, a glass. I forget that the basic skill they need to learn now is going to inform their ability to move to the next.
As a parent, baby and toddlerhood are strange stages to navigate. My children don’t yet have the developmental capabilities to remember my lessons. This is frustrating. More than frustrating. Maddening.
But it doesn’t mean I get to stop gently picking the cup back up off the floor, or repeating “wash your hands” after every bathroom session.
Sometimes I look into my daughter’s stubbornness, and see God looking back at me, wanting me to see the same lesson I’m trying to teach her. Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It keeps no record of wrong.
It seems we are all sculptures in various stages of molding.
One day soon, something will click. The cup will stay on the tray. The faucet will turn without anyone’s prompting. They will be ready for the next challenge, which after a few years, will move past physical skills and into social and emotional territory.
They will be faced with the playground. The classroom. The group setting. And I will be the parent behind the corner, observing my children not as children, but as the people they’ve become.
Does this mean drinking from a cup turns into eating from a plate? Does eating from a plate make one notice food, and does noticing food turn into helping in the kitchen, learning to cook, making meals, opening the door, feeding the family, serving the hungry, or understanding the complexity of the word nourishment?
I don’t know. But I’m willing to hope.
4 thoughts on “To raise a person”
It never ends though, even when they appear to the world as fully fledged adults. It’s painful seeing the uncertainty in the face of my 21 year old daughter as she awaits her degree result and if she can move on with the next step in her life, they continue to evolve and often we can still only observe from a distance feeling for them and hoping it’ll all work out. I remember the frustration if trying to get her to drink from a cup when weaning her from the breast, the next thing it seams that she is sending me Facebook messages from far away for how to make chicken casserole! Good luck, treasure every moment!
Nella, if you’re still feeling your daughter’s heartaches at 21, I think that means you’re doing something right. Grace to you.
You’re a lovely writer! I’m also part of the FB group and her post made me cry. My heart broke for her son. These days are long. And hard. And so very challenging. When I put them to bed I’m always confident I learned just as much as they did. I also love the verse you used. When my kids were going through the sippy cup stage I constantly repeated to myself, “Slow to anger and rich in love.” Slow to anger, slow to anger… Sometimes just saying it made me feel better (and sometimes I left the kitchen so I could scream into a pillow). 🙂
Thank you Meredith! I know – there was something so tender about her story. I think it’s one that we as parents all fear, because we’ve been there in some way or another. Mmmm – Slow to anger, rich in love – that’s going on my kitchen chalkboard next. I need to be reminded of that verse more often. 🙂