Staying in the Center of the Merry-Go-Round
If parenting were akin to a merry-go-round, I have always been one to ascribe to the theory that it is best for everyone involved to have the children revolving around the parents, not the other way around. We help meet their physical needs, set up boundaries for them to learn how to make decisions responsibly and throughout everything we do, love them immensely and watch them go. We do not put the child(ren) in the center and make their needs the focus, dizzying ourselves in the meeting of them. It puts too much pressure on the child, adds to their already narcissistic sense of importance and causes the parent to loose themselves and the tending to their love that started it all in the first place. That is my belief. It may not be yours. That's alright. (Just don't ask me to babysit your kids for a long weekend--they will not like it here!).
If a parent is fortunate enough to have a partner in middle of the madness, you have much to be grateful for. I recognize that not all do, that it is a fragile union that can not be unattended to or taken for granted or forsaken, even in the smallest of ways. Small ways, left unattended, often expand into larger gaps that make us gasp when we hear so-and-so went their separate ways. "Really, them?" Yes, them. And it's important for me to never, ever forget that them could just as easily be us.
The importance of sticking together in the center of the crazy carousel of parenting littles is imperative, 'cause when the ride is over, it is always sweeter to have the one who had your back all those years, there to hold your hand as you begin breathing regularly again (not to mention the 500+ other benefits).
We have a set of identical twins. We also have a set of "Irish Twins"...our first two were born less than a year apart. The boy will turn six over the summer, and his little sister will turn five two weeks before. While he is older, she is taller. She's a rule follower, he's always up for a good-time. They are different in their temperments, but compatible. Fighting happens, but I would not say they are as combustible as other sibling combinations in the bunch.
We took them both to Kindergarten screening, with both of us having vastly different opinions on what next year should look like.
He said "she is ready. She should go"
I said "She might be ready, but she should stay home"
I had a list of reasons I felt reeked the wisdom of maternal instinct.
I consulted educational professionals, ones that knew my daughter and her brother.
And while I had objectively presented both my husband and my viewpoints to the Guidance Counselor at the interview during the school screening, I voiced my joy during her subsequent phone call that lent more support to my way of thinking, than my husband's (of which my husband overheard while upstairs).
When the father of my children still did not
cooperate relent in his perspective after I clearly presented everyone else's opinions (including my own, but carefully excluding those in "his" camp), I did what any God-fearing, strong and wise woman would do:
I was silent.
I played martyr.
I talked tersely.
I made impassioned statements,
declaring "I know what's better for our children than you do",
except without actually using those exact words.
I fervently prayed for God to open my husband's eyes to my wisdom (oh yes. I did).
Due to the "charming" course of action I took, my husband finally came to the table with a compromise. I took it. I felt like I had "won", but the victory was surprisingly sweet-less.
I called my mother, and others, to inform them of "our" decision. I was not able, however, to successfully get a hold of the school's Guidance Counselor to tell her of "The Great Compromise". The rounds of phone tag paused over the weekend until Monday morning came around.
As I prepared to call her Monday morn, something happened. My heart connected to my mind, and both were spoken to by a Source of true Wisdom that only comes from God. The clear, but inaudible voice told me my insistence and manipulation of this decision was an act that is contrary to everything I believe in about parenting. I had left my husband in the middle of the carousal and stepped onto the ride itself, leaving his back exposed and my maternal pride snuggled up next to my daughter. It was a move that said " I am first a mother, than a wife"...an order I am uncomfortable with.
It quickly became a very simple decision and when I called the kindly Guidance Counselor (who ended up being quite supportive of our decision), a true peace about the entire matter settled over me. It mattered not whose support would be offered or retracted in this decision because it was only ours to make, not the spectators. We are the partners in the middle of the crazy ride we're on, we (not "I") are the one's who know our children best and if we're split evenly on a decision that involves the children, it's better to defer towards the one who is the head. The beauty of it is, I did not feel I caved. I felt empowered. I do know God could have changed His heart, and my husband would have let him. I can rest in Him, standing beside my best friend, as we do our best to love the little lives we love swirling around us.
And next year, for better or worse, these little BFF's from near-birth will begin their school careers together. How they view our decision about sending them to and through school together will be based on how their parent's view it. I figure either way, these darling children will probably need therapy at some point for having us a parents, going through school together can just be extra billable hours for the therapist who might just be trying to make ends meet.
God works in mysterious ways, does He not?