The other day I took my son in for a doctor’s appointment. He checked out fine and when we were leaving, the doctor asked my son if he wanted a sticker, and my son said yes. During Covid, children are no longer allowed to rifle for hours through doctors’ and dentists’ sticker bins and prize boxes. They now have to point to select their treasure. The doctor held out two choices, Spiderman and Darth Vader, but the basket was still in sight.
My little boy looked at the selections in front of him and then asked if he could have the sparkly pink butterfly instead.
It’s moments like these when my son shows his true self. When my kids’ differences shine, I swell with pride and love them even more.
Every 6 months or so, I ask my kids if they want hair cuts. The answer is no, from both my son and my daughter. My son has told me that he loves his hair long and doesn’t want it cut and my daughter agrees. Long hair on a boy is still a thing that my husband and I get comments about occasionally, but that long hair is as much a part of my son as his love of math and hatred for whip cream.
My daughter loves princesses and pink, two things I absolutely couldn’t stand as a kid… and long hair. If the doctor had asked me which sticker I would have wanted I would have gone right for that Darth Vader sticker, hands down.
I was always obsessed with jigsaw puzzles and coloring as a kid, and my kids could care less about either.
The longer I’m a mother, the longer I truly believe that my kids were born who they are, brains wired for what they’ll love whether or not I love it too.
But isn’t that the cool part of having kids? Isn’t that the neat part of these little mysteries that live with us? Who the heck are these people? What gets them excited? You can bet that they’re asking the same questions about us or will be at some point. Or, maybe they’ll be wondering this same thing about their own kids someday. Anytime I see my kids’ differences, I smile because I know that little difference is them. It’s the spark of their pure self and it makes me so excited and proud.
If your child is confident enough to show their differences without a care in the world, pat yourself on the back, parent. Even though there may be moments when you’re frustrated and disappointed because you may have been excited to share a common love and now they’re tossing that love of yours into the “no thank you” pile. Believe me, I’ve been there. It freaking stings. But the moment you can release your expectations for how something is going to go, the better. Trust me, it took a lot of community tree lightings, uncomfortable Halloween costumes, and whines of boredom to start chipping away at my expectations.
As my children work their way through school, I also begin to see the way their differences have already worked in their favor. I find that the friends they have already attracted are the exact friends that their personalities need. The more they put their true selves out there each day, the more the universe seems to be giving them fantastic people to surround themselves with. His is such an incredible thing to be able to watch, even at 5 and 7.
But don’t despair, because you will inevitably share moments of common passions with your child, and they will be magical. That will be “the thing” you and your child do that they will remember for times to come. And then all of those other passions and loves that you thought you might share with your child, those need to come from them.
Be proud of all of your kids’ differences and be proud of yourself every time they have the confidence to show themself to the world.
Someday, parents, we won’t be here and those differences that your child boldly shows will hopefully attract friends and companions and maybe a partner who loves for those differences.
I fell in love with my husband’s unique qualities, and that’s why he fell in love with me.
Having my children has been a healing process for me. It has helped me get over a lot of the internal turmoil I’ve felt during my life. I have often felt ashamed of my differences and wanted badly to blend in more. At the same time, I love my children so much because of their differences and I’ve found that the more I practice acknowledging and loving the little parts that make my kids unique, the more I’ve begun to practice it with myself.
Your children are mirrors of you, though the reflections aren’t going to be perfect.