I sit here, this evening, in a state of humbleness and respect.
I have been studying children for years. I have spent, literally, thousands of hours taking care of young children: changing their diapers, eating with them, and having showdowns about getting into the car seat.
When I studied Child Development at Humboldt State, I learned new ways of being with children. I learned theory that taught me to respect children as individuals, support their right to know and speak their mind, to acknowledge their emotional depth and intelligence. I learned that they need empathy and compassion. I learned that the foundation of healthy development is sensitive and responsive relationships with adults. These are topics that you must be interested in. (Why else would you read my blog?)
I began to practice these new ways of being with children at the preschool on campus. While I was quick to understand why theses changes needed to happen, developing the how came a little slower. Okay, a lot slower. To be honest, it was not rare for me to leave preschool and go home crying. I felt like a complete and utter failure. (How was I supposed to get a kid to pick up the blocks he refused to pick up without promising him with a reward?! Or stop a kid from hitting without putting her on time-out?)
There was no magic formula on what to do or say. I flailed and at the end of the day, I got to go home (wrecked and vulnerable) and get a full night's sleep (sorry- not trying to rub it in).
Most of you didn't get to study child development or practice with children in a structured environment. You are (most probably) tired, because parenting still has to happen at 3 in morning. You are learning how to take care of and interact with children while building a relationship with your child. A relationship that pulls from you your deepest love while also touching your deepest wounds.
I have been left feeling awestruck by the courage I have seen in you. I am amazed by your ability to show up for your children, offering them all that you can.
I bow to you. I bow to the depths of your awareness, your pure intentions, your devotion, and your strength. I bow to your ability to challenge yourself, to feel your own tenderness, and to heal your own wounds. I bow to your ability to take in new information and to be open to trying something new.
I am learning what love is as I walk with you on this journey.
With appreciation and respect,
P.S. There is something about this post that has just been under my skin since I posted... I want to make it clear that I value all of the life experience that parents have before they become parents that makes it possible for them to be the awesome parents that they are...taking care of siblings, family members, being a massage therapist or bodyworker, running a business, being in therapy, learning to take care of yourself, slowing down, enjoying life, and thousands of other experiences that support parenting. I realize that these experiences are valuable. I was just reflecting on one specific aspect of experience that prepares caregivers to be with children: the application of developmental and mental health ideas to interactions.
whew, i feel better.