It is no secret that motherhood may be a bit less challenging if these kids came with a manual, preferably during the labor process. You’ve managed to push 5-10 pounds of life out of your body so what’s a few more ounces to produce a manual? This can’t just be any manual, but a manual that explains and outlines exactly what you need to do for that particular child. In a perfect world a few things this manual may include are; the best way to love and discipline them based on their personality, list out every single allergy they may have and avoid the element of surprise (or danger-don’t get me started), what their fears are, what their challenges are and above all the best way to reach them emotionally and academically. Is this too much to ask? Apparently so, as mothers today and tons of generations before us have mapped out this thing called “raising a child” without any step-by-step guide to the many aspects of motherhood.
My daughter, currently 8 years old, has always enjoyed learning and although she has enjoyed it learning has not necessarily been natural for her. What I mean by that is the general notion that some children transition from one feat to the next without any noticeable effort, or discomfort. It’s just done. They rarely ask for help on homework, they’re not soaring above grade level but coasting smoothly at the average pace for a child of their age. This type of child is what I like to refer to as “textbook”. You have them, they grow on schedule, develop on schedule and the train keeps moving as long as you give it the proper fuel. That’s not to say this child won’t have their challenges in life, because we know that we all do, but developmentally it’s a pretty smooth sailing ride.
When you have children this is the path that you wish for all of your children, what mother wouldn’t? However, the path that I have walked and am walking with my daughter has been far from textbook. Each change in her life required “out of the box” thinking to help her move to the next transition. She doesn’t enjoy change so naturally school has been challenging at times because education is constantly graduating to the next level. While we’ve faced these challenges, there has been an equally rewarding amount of pleasure on the journey for both of us. Most of her struggles are conceptual/cognitive and the way she visualizes information does not seem to be common with the way most children process and view the same information. She remains on that constant balance of on grade level & below grade level but as she gets older we now have the social component to deal with. Kids are mean and if you stand out for any reason they are quick to point it out and not usually in a nice way. The social piece has now left her feeling embarrassed to take the extra time, use the tools she needs and speak up in class in fear of what may come her way. Despite the ugly social ways of some children, she has chosen to rise above and I am helping her realize her uniqueness does not require approval or explanation to anyone. She is her only priority and to take care of herself before paying two minutes attention to those who are not supporting her. This pep talk comes and goes, as does her ability to not allow those things to bother her, completely understandable. Did I mention she’s 8 years old? Ugh! Just breaks my heart the ways children have to learn lessons sometimes.
At home, homework can present its challenges. I have always admired elementary teachers for the enormous amount of patience they present on a daily basis. I often found myself asking, “Where do they get that? How do they do it?” Well, I have only a few students in my classroom but I understand now that the gift in teaching is that moment the breakthrough happens. The patience comes in knowing you are reaching a place they have yet to discover but you know it’s there and helping them find it requires great focus. The passion, joy and inspiration that follows the hard work is most certainly something to be patient for! My daughter gets all the credit for doing the work, and facing her challenges head on and what she does not know is how much she has inspired me to face my challenges in the same direct manner.
This year has been especially tough and I find myself reaching out to peers for resources, doing research online to educate myself on more ways to help, spending time in the classroom so I can better understand how information is presented to her and navigating my way through the tools of the educational system. I know I am not the only mother to face similar or even more challenging situations but being the advocate for your child is a battle worth losing over and over and over again if it means you are that much closer to finding solutions that work! I may lose ten times before I win once, but that win will be bigger than any one loss suffered on the way. My daughter is just now reaching the age where she can see her differences but it hasn’t stopped her from reaching her goals. One thing she has no choice to be is herself and part of raising brilliant young women is teaching them to love every single inch of who you are!
A child’s spirit is their strongest asset, don’t let the world break them! Build up who they are, exactly the way they are and watch them conquer the impossible!
Stay blessed friends