Mom told me that you will always worry over one of your children more than the other. It’s not a difficult thing to understand–that one of your children will require more nurturing or perhaps more encouragement than the other. But like so many things, that comment means more to me now I’m a mom.

My eldest is sensitive in a way that is beautiful and smile-inducing, and bless her I can finally say she understands the importance of sharing. (Having a younger sibling greatly helped to reinforce this!) But the playground can be a hard place for someone with feelings like hers. The times after school and after ballet class are stressful for me because her friends go to the playground… and of course she wants to go too.

Most of my anxiety stems from the fact that I see so much of me in her: the innate desire to please and the struggle to assert herself without being overbearing. Assertion is a learned trait to someone like us. It’s an art form that takes years of practice. Some people do it effortlessly while others like me and my eldest first over- then undershoot until we learn the right balance.

I’ve learned that I can’t protect her from the truly hurtful things: I’ve taught her to hold onto the railing when going down the stairs and to keep looking as she crosses the street, but a friend’s comment about her favorite dress or an overexcited kid at the playground are things she has to figure out. All kids must learn how to cope with this, but some seem to do it with more ease than others.

My youngest is the kid I was always afraid my oldest would run into: feisty and confrontational. She’s frightened by little and has loads of personality that leaves us laughing. I spend almost no time worrying about whether her feelings will get hurt at school and most of my time hoping she doesn’t clobber anyone for invading her personal space.

They require two different approaches to parenting. I find myself explaining to my eldest why it’s okay that her friend doesn’t want to give her a hug right now and then in the next breath struggling to get my youngest to understand why we don’t hit. Or pinch or bite or snatch or kick or shout and scream.

My eldest likes to cuddle on the sofa. My youngest needs a dog.

Despite their differences, or maybe because of their differences, I’m learning about acceptance. As someone who very much likes to be in control, I’m slowly accepting just how little I actually have.

Accepting my eldest’s sensitivity is awkward because I see that as a weakness in myself. Therefore, I try to save her from the hard knocks it takes to build thicker skin. I want to spare her the hurt feelings that I had to experience. But in doing so I realized that I’m not accepting her for who she is, which begs the question how can I provide the safe haven she needs if I’m busy correcting her, coaching her… trying to change her.

Perhaps all she needs from me is acceptance. My eldest will learn how to manage playground dynamics and my youngest will grow out of the grabby-snatchy-everything-is-mine phase. Their feelings will get hurt from time-to-time, but more important than shielding them from these events is providing the support they need to get through them.


3 thoughts on “Acceptance

  1. islamcketta109108918 February 14, 2015 — 1:16 am

    This is beautiful, Natasha! Although I’m surprised to hear that assertiveness is a learned trait for you 🙂 I think you will be an extraordinary teacher to both these young women. And yes, that hug of acceptance or the “I’ve been there” can go a long way to showing your oldest that she can grow into anyone she wants to be. Love you!

    1. Aw, thanks, Isla.
      My 20s were spent under-asserting myself. I spent so much time second guessing myself and being afraid that I was happy to leave that decade behind.

      My 30s, when you & I were getting to know one another, I spent over-asserting myself. I had sworn that I was going to stop holding my thoughts in and give voice to them. And as a result, I had a forced, somewhat false sense of confidence that was awkward. Like a suit that looked amazing on the mannequin, but didn’t fall quite right on me.

      Now, well now I’m trying to calm down. To accept who I am. To stop trying to control everything and relax more.

      Of course there’s no better mirror than your children. Lol.

      Anyway, I’m loving your Geography posts. I love seeing the direction they’re taking (for now). Your voice is engaging. You’ll never lose that! I promise 😘
      Hug your baby and yourself for me.

  2. I love this one because it is so true. I need to take this into consideration myself. Even thou my oldest is 2 and my youngest is 10 months today they are truly truly opposite.

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