Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Ready

Dear Ready,

My wait for you to help my kids 'do things by themselves' has been long and arduous.  For some reason, you did not come about for my kids the same time as you did for most other children.

This past weekend morning, I actually stayed in my warm, comfy bed while Dear Son went to the bathroom all by himself to pee.  The noise of that stream of pee never sounded so melodious to me -- because I didn't have to accompany him, like I have had to every single morning since he was potty-trained.  (Notice my use of the pronoun 'I', as no one else will do, but that is enough discussion for an entirely separate post altogether.)  This might come as a shock to some of you, but it was just recently that DS decided it was okay for him to use the restroom 'all by himself'.  I've seen kids half his age go to the bathroom alone, at which time I wondered, what is wrong with my child?  Why can't he be like everyone else? 

It was also recently that he decided that he was ready to eat by himself.  At our local pancake house this past weekend, I watched in awe as he put forkfuls of cut up pancake and scrambled eggs into his own mouth while I sat across from him, eating my own meal, uninterrupted.  I pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming.  I thought this day would never come.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since Dear Daughter also went through a similar 'all by myself' pace, although her readiness came about just slightly earlier than DS.  I have had to remind myself to be patient, as DD is doing everything she should be doing by herself now.  No more "Mommy, you do it."  If I had a penny for each time I heard that, I would be a very rich mommy. 

Aside from early childhood developmental self-sufficiency, DD had an interesting 'readiness' experience that I shall never forget.  DD started taking violin lessons when she was five-years-old.  About two months after she started, her music school was going to hold the first of two solo concerts of the year for the students.  Since she just started playing violin, she would play the A String Concerto.  (If you know the Suzuki Method, that is playing the "Mississippi Hot Dog" rhythm eight times on the open A string.  If not you are not familiar with these terms, then it means playing the A note like so -- short, short, short, short, long, long -- eight times.)  There is piano accompaniment, which requires some coordination between the violinist and pianist.  We were told of this concert about a month prior to the date, and DD just flat out refused to do it.  She worried about this and that.  While I freaked out inside my head tried to stay as calm as possible, I suggested that we keep practicing for it in case she changed her mind.  Exactly one week before the concert date, she agreed to participate.  Just like that.  She wore her best puffy dress and played the A String Concerto that day like a pro.  Even she couldn't be more proud of herself.

So I wondered what is it that makes us 'ready'?  What makes that click, or decision, to be brave enough to do what it is that needs to be done?  Is it having enough practice?  Is it comfort in knowing that you can succeed?  Is it trusting yourself enough to know that it's doable?  Maybe it's all of the above.  I have come to learn that whatever it takes an individual to feel ready must come at that person's own pace.  No rushing or pushing or prodding is going to help much.  And it is something very hard for one to see in medias res.  And that is why hindsight is always so much wiser.

Now looking back, all those times I took DS to the bathroom was giving him the practice and confidence for him to be able to do it by himself.  So it took a little longer for him than others.  The amount of time during which I told DD we would just keep practicing was enough to make her know that she can do it.  It all seems so much clearer now than during those hard times, when self-doubt and frustrations clouded my own confidence about doing what's right for my kids.  It is only now that I can reflect on the things that my kids were ready for before other children were; but why is it that we usually only dwell on the "lacking" things rather than the "accomplished" things?  Parenting is one of those things where you can read up on what to do, but the actual timeline and practice vary greatly. 

As for myself, I had dabbled with the thought of blogging for at least a few years.  But there was a lot to overcome in order to begin.  I had to contemplate on how I would feel about friends and strangers knowing my thoughts and reading my writing.  I had to think about whether or not I can sustain a blog and not let it be a short term project.  I had to come up with an idea to make my blog interesting and stand out (or so I hope).  And so I forced myself not to dive in before I figured all this out and had really thought it through.  After enough brewing, I finally took the leap of faith and started writing.  No doubt, the words 'good enough' float around in my head every single time I write and every single time I press the 'publish' button, but I have been able to ignore them just enough to keep writing.  And I honestly have not found more joy in this than any other hobby in recent years.  Once I was ready, I opened the floodgates and just let the words splash out of my head.  Lucky for me, and sorry for you, if you're reading this. 

So Ready, you are like a light bulb that turns on after charging is complete.  You might even flicker or turn off momentarily, but once you're on for good, you light the way for a bright and hopeful future. (Note attached to said light: "Charging time varies.  Patience not included.")



  1. I love this. Love love love this. And it's a message I need to hear right now as I'm trying to push and to prod Mister Man to do more than he's ready to do, although it feels like he should be capable of it sometimes. I need that hindsight now... or just a reminder like this every once in awhile.

  2. Michelle, that is exactly my frustration with the bathroom thing -- DS was physically capable of doing it by himself, but he was just not emotionally ready. Believe me, there have been too many times where I want to kick myself for not seeing it more clearly whilst 'in the moment'. I also wish I can bottle up some patience so I can use it when I run out, LOL!

  3. Some kids are the do for me-ers and some are the let-me-do-it! kind. My first was the do for me, my second was the do for me and my third is a let me do it but with the understanding that his mom will probably do it anyway. So, it's mostly my fault and therefore i cannot get super frustrated, right? I feed them, dress them and hug them 100 times per day so when in baby land, do like the babies do! I am the only one potty training so when i leave the house and "someone" else is in charge, diapers are wet. Well, I guess I can't be everywhere at once so I give in and say, well, when they are ready, they are ready. Secretly wishing I was hearing the stream without the "mommy help" at the end of it. Sorry if none of this makes sense!

  4. Helen, I got two do-it-for-me-ers! But somehow they go from this to do-it-myself! at some point. For me, it's been all or nothing. I finally get to hear DS tell me to go away when he's going to the potty! Yay!