Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 87: Young at Heart

I had the privilege of joining a few fellow La Leche Leaguers for a breastfeeding talk at a local high school today. The class was quieter than others have been in the past, but all in all it was a great experience for us and hopefully for them. And today, like always, I was struck by just how far behind me my own high school days are now.

I tend not to feel too much different than my high school self, which is really strange since the two of us wouldn't recognize each other in a room. I guess I was waiting for some defining moment or experience to make me feel like an adult; but college degrees, a husband, and two children haven't yet, so I've been forced to let that theory die. In reality, it was such a gradual change that I never noticed how far I was from where I had been, and even now looking back it's so murky that it's hard to say when the old me was replaced by version 2.0 and subsequent updates.

But when a high school girl's most pressing question about my home birth is how we "made his belly button" from the umbilical cord, I'm whisked out of my delusions and the stark contrast between teen me and adult me is obvious.

I didn't think the same way or about the same things, nearly all my values and beliefs are different, my set of "life tools" has thankfully expanded (although I'm still working on stocking the shop shelves), and I'd like to think that sound judgment has decided to make much more frequent appearances since then.

And what does all of that have to do with parenting? Well, other than the fact that mothering has spurred the greatest changes in my life since then, it's a reminder that my children see the world much differently than I do, and will for a very long time.

I don't want to lose touch with what it's like to be eight, twelve, or sixteen. I remember what it felt like to not be (or feel anyway) understood, and I'm hoping not to repeat that cycle that seems to be almost inevitable between parents and children. What I cling to is the vivid memory of the time I felt validated in a major way over a major issue, and how I want my kids to feel that way all the time.

I'm not sure how to put this into practice, especially at their young ages, but I know that it's something I want to stay present with now and as they grow. They are not adults. They don't think like adults, feel like adults, or experience the world in any way like adults. I would do well to remember this every time our thoughts, feelings, and experiences don't coincide. And if I do, I'm confident that it will lead to a more mutually open and respectful loving relationship with both of them.

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