Sometimes (oftentimes, more honestly) I have a sinking feeling like how I choose to parent isn’t paying off. Coming from a typically authoritarian Christian home, I’ve experienced the affects of punitive parenting and emotional neglect and I’m trying to do better for my son and overall, I know I am.
But the day-to-day can be long and mundane and feels like you’re trudging through a molasses-paved road of trying to guide personal empowerment when all you want to do sometimes is enforce.
And then some days, you have unexpected rays of sunshine peek through with their soft reminders that you are, indeed, doing a good job.
Yesterday, we took our weekly trip to the library. after playing with the trains and the blocks and the puppet show setup and bemoaning that another kid got to the construction trucks before he did, my son jogged around and picked a random smattering of books to take home.
A Thomas the Train book, one about rainstorms and caring for neighbors, another about a fish. The usual. The last book he picked out was about a princess without a kingdom. The cover was typically “girly,” with gold flourishes and flowers and beautiful script font.
In moments like these, I’m always reminded how much more room I have to expand and move beyond the knee-jerk and deeply engrained binary thinking of “this is for boys” and “this is for girls.” This isn’t the first time he’s picked out a “girl” book, but it was the first time I realized:
He has no idea why picking up a pretty book about princesses would ever be frowned upon or jeered at in the first place. When I was his age, almost 4, I was already hyper aware of my place as a girl and distinction from boys. He, beautifully, hasn’t a care in the world about such things.
And that, I think, is a whisper that I’m doing something right.
This is a very long-winded way to say – if you’ve felt dismayed by the overall progress of your growth or season of life, remember the times you felt freedom for the first time. When you moved towards curiosity instead of rigid certainty. The breath of fresh air from establishing a boundary. The spark of realizing you’re no longer bound by an old thought pattern.
Perhaps they feel far behind you. Perhaps they are still to come. Either way, the small moments of catching yourself changing for the better is where the foundation is being lain for new life.
Don’t lose hope. You’re further along than you think.