This last weekend Kenna & I spent our Sunday morning watching the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on Netflix. I was positioned on the lounge chair with a book in hand while she simultaneously sat on the floor at my feet coloring, creating, & generally being majestic as she does. The show play on in the background, each of us looking up on occasion to catch a glimpse of The Rockettes. I learn most about being a mother, a woman, & a human being in the most simple of moments. These moments, the simple ones, they teach me what kind of person I want to be. They show me what I value & what I want for my daughter’s life & future. I am thankful for the ability to glean from ordinary life experienes.
She & I shared a brief, yet profound, moment. Just the kind I like. It went like this:
Her: I like their clothes but I don’t like the hats. Do you like them, mommy?
Me: I like the whole costume.
This was the extent of our communication during this time. Simple enough , no? The next moments were the ones that taught me, that changed me. As I watched her hear my response, I noticed by her facial expression she had begun to reconsider her perspective on the hats. Based on my perspective of something as basic as clothing, she started to doubt herself & her unique taste for the costume merely because I’m her mother and offer a heavy influence in her life. What I think, say, & do is mostly considered absolute truth in her eyes. Noticing this process going on in her head I knew I needed to intervene. I quickly added it was perfectly acceptable for her to not prefer the hats as a piece of the costume. I’m not sure if she planned to voice a newly formed opinion (one that would agree with me) or not but she remained silent, appearing to accept my later affirmation, sticking to her original opinion of the ensemble. I’m proud, mostly of her, a little of myself. For her because she chose to sick to her guns, for me because I learned something, I felt accomplished as a parent. I learned I am raising a child who will one day be an adult & I learned what I do and say now will influence how she chooses to stand & care for ideals as an adult. I learned it doesn’t matter if what she thinks differs from me, I just want her to think & be able to support why she does.
Children’s worlds are continually being shaped by their parents or the people of influence in their sphere. She naturally wanted to think the way I thought about the outfit. Why? Because she loves me. Because she respects me. Because I am her primary teacher. I want her to have her individuality. I want her to have her own preferences. I was proud of her for not changing her mind. I grew up in a time where I was reprimanded if I didn’t agree with something as minimal as a food. Even now, we live in a part of the world where not liking something or not agreeing with something (or someone) marks us as a negative among society. (Where’s my red “A” sweater? Can someone please embroider me a sweater? Maybe one with an “I” for individual.) Back on track, I want Kenna to be able to think and speak confidently in the face of people who will tell her she is wrong for thinking like she does.
There are, of course, things I want to be able to share with her & things I want to have in common with her but it is of considerably high value to me that she be able to rely on her own mind & heart in order to best navigate her world. I want her strong. She is not a belonging I own or something to be controlled. She is a person for crying out loud. I want to nurture her in a way that influences her to develop into one massively unique individual. This goes for everyone I am intimately tied to. I don’t want to hear you agree with me for the sake of agreeing. I want you for who you are & for your mind that doesn’t operate like mine & for your heart that doesn’t beat like mine. I love you for the very way your being challenges my own. Anyone can always be wrong. A man (or woman) who is certain of everything is a man (or woman) I care to not know.
I’ll leave you with this, a parting gift. After contemplating on all these thoughts & my exchange with Kenna, I turned the page in my book & my eyes fell on this:
(This is a page from the book I am currently reading, The Art of Living by Epictetus. Epictetus was an ancient Greek philosopher who advocated for stoic philosophy. He was born in 55 AD. This book is incredible, I highly recommend it. Especially if you are someone who struggles with religion. The stoic philosophy is one of liberty, generosity, spirituality & peace without incorporating a religious influence from what I have gathered.)