February 2, 2022
I started reading this little book Many Ways to Say I Love You by Fred Rogers…Mr. Rogers for all of us who grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood…and these little passage struck me for a couple reasons. The first line for starters…I wonder how many people feel the way I do?…the realistic answer is probably more people than we realize. It’s not easy to talk about things that trouble us, things that keep us up at night but the aspects of our life that we struggle with, the aspects of our life that continue to creep in our minds in the quiet hours of the day are the ones we should probably face head on and overcome. Regardless if we are a parent or not.
Yet the same is true for parenting- at least in my opinion. Now I’m new here to the whole parenting scene but I have already heard my own parent’s voice come out of my mouth on more than one occasion. Although their words fit the situation perfectly, it was a little jarring to hear them escape my lips so effortlessly.
One of my mother’s notable quotes…children do not come with a manual. I have more instructions on how to clean my coffee pot!
Her words never rang more true than the moment we left the hospital with our little one. I thought, my mother was right…I have no manual. I have had help the last couple of days. How could they let me leave…I have never done this before. So naturally, I called my mother- just to get some insight into her “mama manual”-the one she has finely tuned over the last 30 years. And she gently told me… you will figure it out. She (our baby girl) will let you know. Listen to her. Listen to your gut.
And so began the creation of our own “manual”… chapters written by our own little girl as we hastily took notes…when she cries with this tone…check the diaper. When she is puckering her lips…hungry. So on and so forth…she has nearly 6 chapters ingrained in our brains and yet, we are still learning. Still growing. Still questioning our moves and making mental notes to do things different when given a new opportunity.
Parenting is about growing…& that kind of growing happens little by little.
I read something recently that I wrote just a few weeks ago about who I was and what I did before baby girl was born. Moments of my life, that at the time, were huge, monumental achievements that I had dreamed of, worked hard for and achieved. And I am proud of them.
Yet when I read what I had written, I felt like I was reading about someone else entirely. I don’t do in the traditional sense what I did, anymore. I don’t teach a room full of students, yet I teach my daughter she can laugh with me, trust me, rely on me and I will always be there for her. I don’t analyze individual’s behaviors or write functional plans to elicit more socially significant behaviors but I know my behavior and my responses to my daughter will shape the way she sees the world, the way she responds to stressors or challenges or exciting moments.
There is this version of me that is coming to life and bringing with it the “best” versions of who I was before I was a mama- the teacher, the behavior analyst, lover of books and a sunny beach day…but gone is the need to be perfect, the need to please, the need to overachieve…there is only one little one who needs me and she really just needs me, to be me.
this growing mama