Can O’ Worms…. I’m opening it up!!!!
We went to Orlando tonight to our old church to hear a guest speaker that we really think a lot of and to hear an old hippie band sing. Great fun! We really enjoyed seeing many old friends and it was so nice to catch up. But then there was a moment, a moment that jerked me back to my early parenting of Anna Grace, a moment that made my blood run cold.
When AG was a baby, there were opinions and ideas and if you didn’t follow them you were wrong. Not different, not raising the child that God gave you, just wrong. It involved meetings and groups and books and pressure. Lots and lots of pressure. And the pressure continued until one day my husband got up in my grill and told me that every time I participated in these groups, I ended up feeling like I’m an awful mother. This was then followed by some of the best advice I ever received. My assistant pastor and his wife pulled me aside and said that God gave that baby to me, to no one else, but to me and I needed to do what I felt was best.
My version of parenting started that day.
– Listen to my child.
– Love my child and make sure they know it.
– Keep my word.
– Have firm boundaries and be consistent.
– Admit when I mess up and ask forgiveness.
– Teach her how to love others, forgive others and ask forgiveness when needed.
– Always remember that God gave that child to me and no one else is as prepared to make decisions for her as I am.
I walked away. I tossed the books. I was the silent rebel who wasn’t participating in their little groups but also wouldn’t talk about it, any of it. There was pressure but the pressure ended one day. I moved to Washington. And when I returned to Florida… we ended up in a different location so… no pressure.
Tonight I was back. I saw old friends and things were going well. It was so nice to be back there, catch up with folks and have a nice, peaceful evening. And then I had this sense that I needed to check on my son. Dana said he was probably fine. Fifteen minutes later, I knew I needed to check on my son. So, I went to the nursery and everyone is apologizing to me and saying they couldn’t find me (I was in the service!). Jack Henry is crying, screaming, etc. I pick him up, bounce him a few times, and say shhhhhh twice and he’s quiet.
And that’s when the flashbacks began.
The nursery lady says “he quiets down like that”? And when I said yes, sometimes, I received a diatribe of parenting advice that covered:
– I’ll regret that as soon as he gains 10 more pounds.
– That’s what’s wrong with kids today. If he doesn’t learn to quiet himself, you’re going to have all sorts of behavior problems from him.
– Its parents like you that are ruining our next generation of children.
And it got worse from there. I wanted to get out of there but JH’s hat was missing. I really didn’t care at that point, they could just keep the hat. It would be a small price to pay for not having to listen to any more unwise, unkind comments. But this time… I immediately knew that the issue was not me, or my parenting, the issue is them. The “advice giving” thems. The “Growing Kids” thems. The thems that don’t realize that unsolicited advice is just that…unsolicited. The thems that don’t use common sense and realize that if my kid is fussing because it is 1.25 hours after his bedtime, its not an indication that he’s heading to prison.
I’m glad I went tonight. I’m glad I got to see old friends. Yes, I wish I didn’t have the nursery encounter with the GKI “nazi” but I’m also kinda glad I did. It gave me a chance to see that I’m a different person, I’ve moved on. Years ago a verbal attack like that would have rocked my world, especially if it related to my children. So… I’m glad that I had the encounter so that I can see that while it did upset me, I didn’t internalize it. I’m able to recognize a cancer when I see it.
I’m glad for that!