My youngest daughter is 4, 5, and 6 years old. Wha?! Yes.
In May we celebrate her Adoption Gotcha Day for the 4th time. She and I have been mother and daughter for almost 4 years.
In February she will enter Kindergarten. In Bolivia children are usually 5 when they enter Kindergarten. She needed to repeat preschool so that she could be a stronger Kindergartener.
In December of last year she turned 6 years old. Since this is a provisional birthday I can only hope and assume that it is close to her physical age.
She has behaviors that match all three of those ages. So I killed the deadline, before it killed me. I got all caught up in the benchmarks of where we “should” be that I couldn’t celebrate where we are.
(See this post on time for more thoughts on the subject: Airplanes are Time Machines)
Sure, we need timelines, deadlines, and goals with measurable results. We need those things in areas that we can control, to an extent. As a certifiable control freak I can attest to the ease in assuming that everything can be controlled. Ha! My current process of the deconstruction of damaging patterns landed me on the conclusion that many of my conclusions need to be revised. The “shoulds” associated with time that came under evaluation didn’t hold much water.
It comes back to expectations. Expecting myself and others to maintain an imagined level of performance may create some facades in the relationship. Simplifying my expectations creates freedom for myself and others to grow at a natural pace. Creating an atmosphere which transmits trust invites a relationship in which all open up with a freedom born of acceptance. The rate of growth no longer frustrates me. I let that go so that I can be happy to see the actual growth right in front of my eyes.
I expect you to behave in this fashion: ______________ [fill in the blank with billions of rules]
I expect you to know I love you in this fashion: ______________ [fill in the blank with billions of affirmations of the worth this person holds in my heart, soul, and life.]
Pulling at the little seedlings in the pot will not make them extend their branches any quicker. Most likely the yanking will result in a hurt plant and stunted growth. Give those root water and healthy soil and they will strengthen. Give those tiny green leaves the warmth of sunlight and keep the bugs away and you will see them flourish.
My daughter does not need me to yank at her with a face of disappointment and disgust. She came to us already damaged. She needs from me a face of kindness, acceptance, and love. She needs words of truth that warm her heart. She needs the nutritious power of a family surrounding her with encouragement and trust.
We never stop growing, right? I am so grateful for the grace to keep learning these parenting concepts. Why would I not extend that same grace to my children as we work this out?
Grace to you, too. Thanks for reading.