Thursday, August 15, 2013
Life Lesson Month of August: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi
Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have… educating a child is the biggest responsibility that leaves me wondering if I am doing anything right some days!
Life Lessons Learned #24: Be compassionate and empathetic.
I struggle and wrestle with how to teach you this one Ellie other than by example. I’ve said to your Mimi a million times that I don’t care how smart or beautiful you are; I just simply want you to be a kind person.
I know you are incredibly shy so I don’t push you to be overly friendly to strangers (even though I find it a bit ridiculous that you bury your head in my shoulder or your Mimi’s during the part of church when we shake the hands of those around us). But I try to be courteous and polite to those we meet in public. Despite some embarrassment with my colleagues when you snub them during the first few encounters, I respect that you have anxiety with new people (and really in the world you are growing up in, sadly I think it’s easier that way than to have to worry about you being easily coaxed into the arms of a predator). I often wonder what exactly you see in the few people that you warm up to fastest- do children see into people’s hearts and judge them better than us adults who can be jaded?
I don’t hide my emotions from you. It’s not often that I cry but when I do, I don’t shield it from you. The other day, you were sitting on my bed as I got dressed and out of the blue you said in a very sad voice (with your head hanging low), “I miss my brother Kyle.” Tears streamed down my face and I let you know that I miss him too (even though I have no idea what prompted you to think about him) and I told you that I was really glad that you talked to me about him.
We pray every night together on our knees (most nights, you get distracted and I have to remind you to give Jesus a few minutes of our time). After we say the Hail Mary, you and I both say something that we were thankful for that day and then we include people who need extra blessings (on Monday, you prayed for the flu-ridden sister of a friend at school and a week ago you prayed for a little boy who wasn’t nice to you but more often than not, it’s someone who pops in your head sporadically).
Your Dad and I never yell at one another but we can have heated discussions once in a great while and if it happens, it’s over our dinner conversation. Because you are our only living child, it’s just natural that you are apart of it- you give your two cents (even agreeing with me recently that your Dad was a bit cranky with the latest development in the long process of us buying our new house). I want you to know that emotions are ok to display- including frustration with another person (and that there is a respectful way to converse when there is a difference of opinion). I want you to note that compromise is possible but sometimes it isn’t… and that’s when even adults take a time out.
I try to be proactive and give you positive feedback when you are particularly kind and I tell you that you are a nice girl. Manners (or what we call at home, “our nice words”) are a must (and you are so mindful of please, thank you and I’m sorry that you often remind me and your Dad to say them!). We don’t swear, or say hate or stupid in our house (and if we do, you remind us that we don’t say those not nice words). And in our family unit, we don’t judge based on skin color, gender, or sexual orientation (even though these conversations are beyond your years, I hope you are gaining perspective by living in an environment of tolerance). I try to follow the same guidelines and expectations that I create for you as often as I can because modeling can be the best form of learning.
But when it comes down to it, I wonder what you will be like as an adult Ellie. I already know the answers to these questions right now, when you are three, but will they prevail when you are thirty-three? Will you care deeply about others? Will you make the world a better place?
As a toddler, you have such an incredible sense of self and I think that is the basis for compassion- it’s hard to understand the plight of someone else if you don’t understand yourself first. Don’t ever lose sight of who you are while always considering the feelings of those around you. These days, you still get angry when people call you little or tiny and I tell you again and again that you have such a big heart because you really do (I can’t tell you how many times you kiss or say I love you simply because you feel like it at random times throughout the day).
You can still have poise and dignity and still have emotion too. Remember to be tenderhearted but do be cautious of those who take advantage. Be benevolent but be strong. Maintain your character and values but respect those who may not see eye to eye with you.
I love you my kind daughter with a heart of gold.