This past Tuesday evening, our son had a violin concert for school.
He’s played the piano for several years now, but he had never held a violin before September this year, and he has already learned enough to play a holiday concert with his music classmates that sounded pretty good. Granted, I’m not a musical person, and I’m sure there are musical people that could pick out mistakes, but a bunch of middle schoolers new to string instruments has the potential to sound like a room full of cats having their tails rocked on by rocking chairs containing large people. This concert sounded like holiday music. Maybe not like the New York Philharmonic, but they sounded FANTASTIC for a bunch of 11-14 year olds, most of whom never held a string instrument before their 11th birthday.
I relayed this information to a young friend of mine who doesn’t have children yet. Her response was <paraphrasing>, ‘That’s got to be so cool to watch him do neat things like that!’
And that made me think about my son and what a gift it is to be his mother every day.
He turned 12 yesterday, and I’ve never been one of those moms who longs for the baby days to return, or even one who wishes she had more/younger children because her first baby is growing up (fast). I mean, there are times when I can’t believe he’s 12, because it really does feel like a BLINK ago that J and I were in that hospital, aching to bring him home. That was 12 years ago. Wow. But it also feels like…he’s this cool person I know now.
And that’s what I told my young, childless-so-far friend in response to her comment. Yes. It IS really neat to watch The Boy play the violin. Or the piano. Or do advanced math. It’s neat to read books to him and with him and see test scores. It’s cool to watch him build a Lego structure or play a video game. It’s cool to ride roller coasters and hike trails in National Parks with him. It was cool to watch him learn to walk and talk and read and develop taste in things (clothes, music, books, movies, friends…)
It’s cool to hear him laugh and see him smile. He’s cool to talk to about things he likes or about his past or our pasts or our potential future or the ways of the world and what he thinks about them. It’s cool to watch old movies and cartoons with him and to have him introduce us to new media and new ideas.
It’s cool to watch him do anything.
I mean, he’s not a perfect kid. I know I romanticize a lot of things, but I’m not deluded about my kid being human, or me being human as a parent. Motherhood is hard. Parenthood is hard. Being a KID is hard. We all make mistakes and we all have some little imperfect quirks and flaws. The Boy is a ROYAL wise-ass (I’d like to totally blame J, but like introversion, I think that comes at The Boy both ways). He can be lazy. He’s kinda spoiled (he’s an only child to two parents who are now upper middle class but grew up lower middle class to poor…I mean…it happens).
But he’s a really good boy growing into a thoughtful, kind, bright young man that J and I are proud of. And I’m amazed by him. He’s miraculous to me.
I look at him and think to myself, ‘Here is a cool person that I made with J, who is made of J and me, but separate from us, and look at all the cool shit he can do…’
I truly believe it’s a gift to be his mom.
And it’s a gift to get to watch J be his dad.
I talked to my friend about this a little, and I told her that so many parents complain about their kids and parenthood, and we talked about how we’ve both seen parents do this in public ways…in front of or to their kids…on social media…in big group settings…like public shaming.
I understand that sometimes things can go REALLY sideways in parenting. Little people with minds of their own do not always do and say and behave as you planned. Life throws you curveballs. They get sick. They sass you. They throw tantrums. They get stubborn and irrational. They mess up at school and they don’t listen to advice and you have to nag them to learn responsibility…
Sometimes they’re mean and disrespectful…to other kids…to family members…to teachers…to YOU. And you have to correct and/or manage all of this. I get it. It can be rough. But I’m not now, and I hope I’m never a parent who complains about my kid, and certainly not one who will publicly shame them. I don’t think he’s a burden or mistake or too much or not enough. I think he’s a miracle. I don’t publicly say THOSE things about him either, but I want to. I want to do more than write the occasional braggy blog post about him here, but I get shamed for doing that. Parents who praise their kids openly are shamed but parents who shame their kids publicly are accepted (and sometimes praised). I don’t get it.
I really wish more parents stopped to look at their kids…even if they aren’t doing something ‘neat’ like playing Tschaikovsy on the violin…and thought it was cool to watch them do…anything. That they just thought their kid was cool because they existed and were grateful for that person who was a part of them, no matter what ‘imperfections’ they had. I think that way about my son. It’s a gift to be his mom. And it’s a gift to watch J be his dad. It’s a gift to see this cool person he is, no matter what he’s doing.