I’ve been afraid of my kids being “different”.
(PS- It’s been…uhm…months since I’ve written a post on here. Ooops. I’ve been a little busy with this thing called MOTHERHOOD. Forgive me.)
Before I had kids, I would look at other kids and parents and judge them *gasp* and proclaim that my kids would be wonderful and well-behaved and smart and cultured and this and that and (insert all the other things that we think we can make our kids be or do before we actually have them and realize that they are already pre-programmed to be pretty much the exact opposite.) I was young and naive and I apologize to all the parents who I ever doubted because I saw their child licking strange objects in the mall. This has since happened to me infinity.
I think we all start out wanting our kids to be “normal”. No one browses their baby name books and thinks, “Oh, I hope I have a weird kid.” We want them to be accepted, loved, understood and successful. We don’t want them to struggle to fit in or feel different or out of place. But then we hold these tiny humans in our arms and we quickly find out that every single one of them has been designed to be uniquely themselves. They don’t come with a manual that makes you understand why they do the things they do. And when you realize you have a kid that doesn’t quite fit in that “normal” category, it can be very, very overwhelming.
Recently I have had accept the fact that I have one of those precious, exceptionally unique, and exceptionally wonderful children. We have always know that she marched to the beat of her own drum. I’ve called her my “free spirit”- my child who lives with deep passion, curiosity, and spontaneity. She is my second child, and after my compliant, people-pleasing type A first born, I thought I had this parenting thing pretty figured out. Ha!
As my middle little has grown up and grown into her personality, we have fallen in love with her uniqueness. The things that may have scared us at first because they were different, we embrace and cherish because they make her who she is. I’ve heard many people use the expression “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.” However, with my kiddo, I’ve found it to be the opposite.
She is like putting a round peg in a square hole.
She can fit in for a while. She looks perfectly capable of doing things in the way that society deems “normal”. She may be able to function for a little while in that square hole. But when things start to move and shake, when difficult situations arise and routines are disrupted, she gets rattled and you quickly realize that she wasn’t made to fit in this hole.
This year of Kindergarten has been extremely eye-opening and excruciatingly difficult for us. My sweet, spunky, free-spirit was coming home from school in trouble, defeated and discouraged quite often. She started measuring herself by the behaviors she was labeled with. My little round peg was rattling around in a square hole that she just couldn’t fit into.
It has been hard, friends. It’s hard to have a kiddo who you feel is misunderstood and labeled. It’s hard to see all the incredible, positive qualities and feel like everyone else sees the negative. It’s hard to explain behaviors that you really don’t even understand yourself. It’s hard to watch your child retreat inward because they feel like they are “weird” or “bad” or “different”. It’s hard. It’s not just hard, it’s heartbreaking.
If you have, or are currently walking this road with your own little round peg, can I just give you a virtual HUG and tell you that you are an amazing mama and the love you have for your unique child is the absolute most important thing in the world? You need to know that when society’s systems and organizations dismiss your child because he or she doesn’t fit into their square hole, your arms are going to be the place that your child always fits in. Don’t give up. Pull them close. Reassure them of your love. Praise their uniqueness. They need to know that they are wonderful and incredible and strong and brave and oh so very loved.
We have had to do some re-evaluating when it comes to how we are handling things with our little round peg. We are praying and seeking counsel and dishing out deep, deep buckets of grace and love on her and on ourselves. Because the reality is, as hard as it is parenting a round peg, it’s so much harder being the round peg. And I am determined that we are going to do everything possible to raise our children- round or square or triangle or hexagon or WHATEVER- confident in who God created them to be, whether people always get them or not. Our job as parents isn’t to raise cookie cutter compliant children. Our job is to help them explore their uniqueness and giftings and talents and interests and (whether we always understand them or not) empower them to be the best version of themselves they can be. Not my idea of what they should be. Not the world’s idea of what they should be.
So today, mama friends, I am proud to say that my kid is different. She challenges me. She makes me look at the world differently. She has helped me to loosen up and laugh more. She inspires me and motivates me and loves me unconditionally, even when I am the crappiest mom ever and I fail her over and over again. Last night she held my face in her hands and said, “I would never want any mommy except for you.” I melt.
If you have been struggling with a child who doesn’t quite fit the mold that the world is trying to push them into, take heart. You aren’t alone! We have been given a gift- these incredible children- who we get to help raise and then release into the world to do amazing things. Is it hard? Heck yes. But it’s the unique people in the world that really make their mark. And I have no doubt that my middle little will too.
Bless her little object-licking heart.