As I stood staring through my front door at the steady rain outside, I found myself deep in thought. I was alone in the house, sipping coffee, still in my PJs in the afternoon. The stillness and the darkness, with just a faint pitter-patter of raindrops and a hint of thunder in the distance, calmed my spirit and made me smile and reflect.
Especially at this time of year, with the hustle and bustle of a new school year beginning, I see young parents posting comparison photographs of their children as infants, who are now starting preschool or their children in Kindergarten, who are now in their senior year of high school. I read the parents’ laments of how time is flying by and they just want “time to stand still.” Really? Do you REALLY want time to stand still? Consider this . . .
As much as you are loving whatever age/stage your child is in, please open yourself up to the beauty that is your child’s potential. For every moment you spend agonizing over the changes you see in your little one, you are wasting an opportunity to soak up the miracle of growth and development, right before your eyes! For every tear you shed over the infant coos and cuddles that are now behind you, you are missing the conversation and connection that come with building a relationship with your growing child and the tears of joy as you witness him/her grow into his/her own.
I reflect on my daughter singing a solo, “If I Only Had a Pet”, in her Kindergarten play. I sat in the audience with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. As a music teacher and vocal major in college, I saw in her a little part of me. I reflect on my son playing basketball throughout his elementary school years, running next to boys who towered over him, but not being at all intimidated as he wove his way in and out of the opponents, dribbling to score at the other end of the court. As one who felt like the underdog oftentimes in life, I saw in him a little part of me.
Both of my children excelled in math in high school. They got that from their father, a former math teacher. My son finished college in 3.5 years. For him it was a means to an end and he got in and got out. I loved watching him focus and persevere to get where he wanted to be. My daughter was a social butterfly, joining a sorority and various music groups, enjoying every aspect the university had to offer her. It was wonderful to see her blossom into a loving and caring young woman throughout her college years. Now both of my children are independent and self-sufficient. They have kind hearts, they are socially responsible, and they enjoy what life has to offer them.
My point? I have enjoyed every age/stage I’ve experienced with my children. I have jumped head-on into the changes and adjustments and that has helped me appreciate the evolution of their personalities and character over the years. Every age/stage leads to the next and how we, as parents, react to each age/stage makes a difference in our perception of the next. Embracing the present and our participation in it, makes for a much happier mama, daddy, and child. Celebrating the uniqueness of each subsequent age/stage with your child helps empower him/her to continue growing and becoming, rather than feeling as though they should, somehow, hang on to who they used to be.
Parents are their child’s first teacher and their most powerful lessons are what they model for their children. Model a joy for growth. Model an excitement for change. Model an acceptance of differences. Model an unconditional love for the precious one you have nurtured throughout every age/stage. Then, model trust for the amazing young adult you set free to be a shining example of all that is good in this world. I will choose those tears of joy every time.
Dr. Mary Massey, an award-winning author, is a lifelong learner who believes all children are SMART, they’re just SMART in different ways! She has researched Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) and uses it as a foundation for consulting, speaking, and training. She also designs and conducts MI professional development programs for teachers. Mary lives in Tallahassee, Florida with George, her husband of 39 years. She was born in South Bend, IN and moved with her family to Foley, AL as a teenager, where she graduated high school.
Mary earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Troy (State) University, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Education from Nova Southeastern University. She is the Mama of two adult children, William (wife, Natalie) and Alexandra, the Nana of two adorable granddogs, Sadie Mae and Macallan, the Aunt Mary of several nieces and nephews featured in this story and the MiMi of the incomparable inspiration for her first book, Ellie Rae. They are all so very SMART in their own special way! You can follow Mary and order her books and the new Ellie Rae eight inch plush doll at www.hugthemountain.com or www.facebook.com/MaryRMasseyEdD/