My Baby was Reading Harry Potter at Two Days Old

My sons were walking at 8 months old… They were potty-trained at 2, reading in Kindergarten and driving the day they turned 16.  Well, not exactly. In fact, these were comments I heard from fellow mommies about their kids while I sat back questioning why my kids weren’t up to speed.  

As long as my kids have been on this Earth, they have been “behind the curve”. They were in no hurry to leave my belly; I had to evict them. They took their first steps around 14 months, potty-trained at 3 ½, began to read late in the 3rdgrade, and one of them will have their driver’s license at 17, and other one got his at 18. They simply have never boybeen in a rush for any of the chart-worthy moments. 

This was so challenging in the early years; I couldn’t help but worry. With all of the photos on Facebook and the books with all the charts, I felt compelled to compare and concerned that maybe I was doing something to cause this discrepancy. I felt so inadequate as a mom knowing my kids were behind the projected norms. But fortunately, I got a clue and realized that there are very few norms when it comes to kids; even their teeth fall out at different rates.  Every kid is so unique and amazing, and they do their own thing in their own time.

Having raised my sons, who have steadily flowed down their own path, on their own timetable, I learned that it is my job as a mom to “hold the space” for them to grow and be exactly who they are. As a parent, holding the space simply means to love and support them while they grow, knowing that they will do everything they need to do in their own time. 

These milestones, in fact, aren’t necessarily better when they happen faster, they are better when they happen at the right time. For example, when my son turned 16 he told me he didn’t want to drive.  He had some fears about the road, and who could blame him with all the people in such a hurry going nowhere. I could have pushed him to drive sooner, it would have made my life easier, but if I had, who knows what may have happened.  Being a new driver is challenging enough, let alone being a driver who doesn’t feel safe on the road.  He turned 18, we bought him a car and now he is a driver.  He drove on his timetable, not the state’s, not mine, not his Dad’s or his brothers.

My kids started school late too. They were born in September and November, and when you’re born in the Fall, your parents have a choice to send you to Kindergarten at age 4 or 5, just before your next birthday.  We knew our kids were still very into play and dressing up, and the thought of taking that time away from them to put them into a structured environment, wasn’t the right choice for them. It would have been easier for us for many reasons, but we followed our instincts and kept them home the extra year. As it turned out, it has made perfect sense as we watch their lives unfold.

We live in a fast-paced world, there’s a lot of pressure on us adults to keep pace, and in turn, we tend to put that same pressure on our kids. I try to imagine how I would feel having somebody behind me, trying to push me and make me grow before I’m ready to grow.  It makes me feel very uneasy and defensive. So rather than worrying about my kids keeping up, I now walk beside them with love and pride at who they are in each moment. I hold the space for them to grow, and I breathe.

‪I’m Right, You’re Wrong

There was a time, a big chunk of my life actually, when I was angry as hell! I can’t pinpoint the exact cause of this anger, my life wasn’t that bad compared to most, but I was mean! Unfortunately for those around me, this anger came with an obsession to be right. 
I had to be right at all costs; nobody could outdo me in an argument. I would battle to the end, and I would never give up! Losing an argument was just not an option. In fact, if a fight wasn’t resolved before I went to sleep, I would start it back up first thing in the morning. I would lose a ton of sleep too, going over my strategy in my head the night before, while playing out the next day’s argument in detail (as if I knew exactly how it would all play out). I was pretty confident in my arguing skills, and I was proud. 

They say that underneath most anger there is either fear or sadness. I wasn’t interested in feeling either, thank you very much. The arguments were a source of power for me. The adrenalin would soar. I would feel a ton of energy and it made me feel invincible. And then shortly after, I would crash (just like eating sugar, which I also did frequently). I was destroying all of my relationships, of course, but I felt strong and powerful. Convincing the other person that I was right was all that mattered to me!

Crazy, huh?

Then one day something shifted. I was arguing with somebody and I actually conceded and let them win! I didn’t have the energy to fight back.  

What was happening to me?

I suddenly noticed that I felt a lot less stressed. I hadn’t used my entire day’s bank of energy to fight back, I had energy to spare and I avoided that big crash too! I shook my head and thought to myself “was being right worth all of the energy I expended on it?” I didn’t want to have to give up my reign as “the rightest person ever”, but I also didn’t want to live my life exhausted by all the mood fluctuations.  

I decided to do one of my social experiments because I needed some cold hard statistics; I am a Capricorn after all. I needed to know if being right was worth destroying relationships and exhausting my energy by noon each day. Believe it or not, this was a hard decision at that moment in my life. I had many opportunities to fight, sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t, and what I gleaned from my research was a resounding “NO!” Being right was not worth the fall out at all.

I know to some, this is obvious, but to me it wasn’t until this point. It felt so important to me to be right for so long, nobody could have convinced me otherwise. It was so much a part of my identity. Even if somebody else was right, I couldn’t hear their side or even consider it. The only thing that mattered to me was being right. Little did I know, it only made me and the people in my life suffer.

Finally it dawned on me that having peace in my relationships meant so much more than being right, and it gave me the space to pause, breathe and focus on the other person’s viewpoint. I could look in their eyes and hear what they were saying, and I no longer felt the need to be right or even to get my viewpoint across. My life became so much more peaceful and my relationships became stronger. I no longer have that drive to be right, it simply doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. 

Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t let the people in my life walk all over me, I just take more time to listen and understand the world through their viewfinder, and breathe. 

Grandfather’s Unorthodox Methods Teach Fearlessness

My Papa Sam had a very distinct teaching style. I think Nike’s “Just do it” sums it up. When I learned to ride a bike, Papa Sam held onto the back of my bike running down the street with me, for about three seconds, and then he pushed my down the hill (which in retrospect was probably not so much a hill but more like a dip in the road, but it felt like a hill at the time). Trust me when I tell you I learned how to ride a bike right then and there. 
The same thing took place when he taught me to swim and dive. He picked me up at three years old, threw me in the pool and somehow knew I would survive. There was nothing but faith in my Papa Sam’s eyes – he knew that I would succeed without a doubt.
While I didn’t take this approach with my own children, I value the beauty in his methods. He taught me to relentlessly face my fears. This came rushing back to me while I was on the top of a ropes course, having to jump from one plank to another in midair while grabbing a rope in between, 100 feet or more off the ground, to then swing to the other side. It was scary as hell, but somewhere deep down I was prepared for that day because of my Papa.

He also taught me to allow my children to face their fears while letting go and allowing them to experience their own lives. This is amazing because I have a son who loves to jump and flip and fly through the air as often as possible, just like his Mama. And if you have children, you know the hardest thing for a parent to do is to let their child learn something new, on their own, without sending them on their way covered in bubble wrap!

Despite Papa Sam’s unorthodox style of teaching, I felt nothing but love and a sense of comfort from him. He was an extraordinarily loving man, who thankfully did not pass fear on to future generations.