Posted by: Kate | July 13, 2009

Pride

As a parent, the concept of pride becomes a complicated sort of beast.

Take, for instance, the pride I have in Emily. She has really had a very difficult year, whether you measure that by the calendar or by the past 12 months. She has watched her mother go from reasonably healthy and functional, to laid off, deeply depressed, in chronic pain, and then having a seizure in the garden with no warning. She has also had increasing difficulties in school and at home, culminating in a diagnosis of ADHD, Hyperactive Type. She has started seeing a therapist, and taking medication.

It’s an awful lot for a little girl to absorb, and she has of course had rocky days and difficult moments. But, overall, she has taken it all in stride, and has proven that she can handle the hard stuff with grace, and can wait until a quiet moment to let out some of the worst of her fears and hurts. I’m so heart-breakingly proud of her, but not in a personal, puffed-up, ownership sort of way. Sure, I helped her learn some of her coping skills and worldview, but at the heart of it, it is her choice whether to adjust with aplomb or to fall to pieces.

Then there’s a similar thing I feel for Jacob. The boy has never been a great sleeper. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was 18 months old, and sometime shortly after he turned 4, he started making a nightly pilgrimage into our bedroom for “snuggles.” Sometimes this means he needs a quick hug and within five minutes he’ll be back in his own bed. Other times it means he clings and wants to stay through the rest of the night because he’s scared of monsters, no matter how many times I’ve insisted that I simply don’t allow monsters in my house, and the monsters all know this and steer clear because I’ll put them in time-out. I even used special anti-monster paint when I redid the bedrooms, and still he gets nervous. So, most nights – still, a year later, it happens at least 5 nights a week – he’s back into our room, snuggled up on my side of the bed. I’ve become so used to it that I often don’t realize he’s there… he creeps in, curls up and falls asleep, and I’ll wake up to a fuzzy little head in my armpit sometime after daylight.

The thing of it is, he’s such a brave little soldier with it. He never makes a peep, never shouts or cries in his bedroom or en route. He just gets up and tiptoes in, and I’ve replicated that walk, alone, at night. It’s a dark and scary thing, and we don’t have any outlets in our hallway to allow for a nightlight. He’s just very calm and brave about it; he knows what he needs to make himself feel better, and he makes that happen with a minimum of fuss. Again, I have this pride for his strength of character and control, a pride which is all about appreciating the coolness that is my child, and not about feeling like I had a whole lot to do with it.

On the other side of the pride coin, there are absolutely times when I feel a strong sense of pride for myself, pride in my own parenting. When I send my kid off to summer camp despite my raging fears and PTSD-laden memories, I’m proud of myself; I know I’m doing the right thing for my daughter, by ignoring my insecurities and trusting that the odds are just completely against the same sort of thing happening to her – and, God forbid, if something did happen, I hope that our lines of communication are enough more open that she could come to me… and that I could believe her outright.

When I watch Willem interact with the kids, and really listen to them, and show them that he cares about the people they are and not just about the fun parts of daddyhood, I’m proud of him. I’m proud that the kids can see our relationship; we do fight in front of them, when necessary, but then we also make up in front of them, and I think that’s handing over a whole pile of life lessons, about arguments with respect and compromise and making up. I’m proud that the kids are involved in our family decisions, that we eat out together and travel together and generally act as a unit.

So, there’s a lot of positives to this parenting thing. What are you proud of?

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Responses

  1. Really? NOBODY has pride in themselves or their kids? Awww, people, such a sad, sad world. OK, then, tell me why you’re not proud.

    Bueller? Bueller? Anybody?

  2. Says Sarah sitting in the front row:

    I’m proud of my boyz when someone else comments on how well-behaved they are. And surprisingly enough, this happens quite frequently when we’re all out in public.

  3. Sorry Kate, this work thing is seriously interfering with my blogging. I was asked at an interview last week what was I most proud of and I had to say raising two children into respectful and fun adults on my own. (Clearly they weren’t too impressed that I hadn’t prevented world poverty and the economic crisis) You have every right to be proud of well-behaved, interesting kids. It’s a tough job that so many screw up


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