My son has always been very clear about what he wants and needs. I respect this. I give him support, healthy and loving boundaries, and guidance when requested.
But I’m doomed with the thought that something I do or say will break him. I trip over my ideas and second guess my parenting.
So, a few weeks ago, my son suddenly began practicing trumpet twice a day. Turns out the new orchestra teacher was holding tryouts to determine “seating” for each instrument. Last year my boy was number four out of four trumpets. He worked hard in spite of his placement and improved a lot. (You can call me proud!)
I asked him what seat he was going for and he said, “Third”. I blurted,
“Why not throw your hat over the wall and go for Second?”
And immediately tripped over my words and tried explaining what I meant by “throw your hat over the wall”. My kid is smart. He knew what I meant.
But it was too late. My thought monster, Arabella, (a.k.a. my inner critic) had kicked into gear. I mumbled, “JFK said that in a speech one time…” I wanted to give him examples of when I’d thrown my own hat over the wall and had reached higher heights… but I had nothing.
I felt really awkward. And flustered. And puny.
Desperately I said, “I’m not attached to the seat you land in, I’m just saying why not really go for it?” Which sounded like I thought he wasn’t already going for it. He was practicing twice a day. He was going for it!
I repeated myself and threw in how I’m really proud of him.
Why was I still talking?
My son said, with only a smidgen of frustration in his voice, “Mama, I know! You’ve never tried to push me into things. It’s okay!”
My mind kept spinning. Arabella berated me for the mess she believed I’d made. You see, I believe so much that he knows what works, that I worry I’ll offend him or push him away by offering my thoughts and opinions.
If you’re a parent, you know that parenting brings up your stuff.
My particular stuff comes up because in my childhood I felt either unseen or pushed toward things I didn’t want. This stupid old wound makes it difficult (sometimes) to hang out in the love, acceptance, and respect I have for my boy while simply being myself. Myself is someone with a lot of ideas who loves to support and cheerlead and gets really excited and wants more than anything to be a good, supportive mama to her son.
I have to shush Arabella often. I am the perfect mama for my boy!
As much as humanly possible, I try to give my ego a kind pat on the head and shoo it away. The ego and inner critic do not help when it comes to pretty much anything, especially parenting.
My best is available when I’m connected to spirit and the respect I have for both myself and my child as the already whole and complete people that we are. From this place, I can love, encourage, support, and be available to him. I can offer my ideas without tripping over myself. I can trust that his wise mind and soul will get exactly what he needs.
Where have you tripped up in your parenting?
P.S. I really needed to find that quote I was trying to remember! This is from a speech John F. Kennedy gave in a dedication related to the space program just one day before he died.
“Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall–and then they had no choice but to follow them.”