We all have a desire to be liked. To be in the “in” crowd. To be successful.
I think sometimes that desire is projected onto our children, and maybe for typically developing children’s parents, that pressure that they put on their children to be successful is so the child AND the parent looks good. For example, if our student is getting straight A’s, we also must be smart or disciplined, or if they are good at athletics, we too, are the mom or dad that everyone says hello to at the games. Maybe it is our child that makes the newspaper, and yes, we are proud of our child, be we don’t mind sharing some of the light….I mean, we did teach them everything they know, right?!
In the world of special-needs, it isn’t much different. We too, are grasping for our children to be scene, known, loved, thrive, and in the spotlight. But we have also found a way to stand in the light. The problem is, no one would dare tell us we are prideful. I know I can only speak for myself, but I was growing sense of pride regarding build with the Boyces. I like sharing the spotlight. I like feeling “proud” of my children and like the attention. I like people asking how I am, I like sharing about our children, I like what God does through me. I like people praying for us, commenting on my blog posts and telling me what a blessing our story has been. Satan is a twister, and can even take good, pure, things and make them yucky.
I desire so much for Jayden in Brooklyn and their story, their life, to be significant. And I am realizing, me too. I want to matter. I want people to like me. Even at 32.
So much so, I am willing to sacrifice hours and hours that I could be spending with them and their short little lives to create something that will bring acknowledgment, appreciation, and value to who they are. But deep down, I know that part of that is I want to be known. I hate that part of me…and I want it to change. I am realizing that I matter to God and that has to be enough. My children matter to God, and that has to be enough. He may choose to put our story on a huge platform or no platform at all, but I have to get my pride in check, regardless.
If I am completely honest, I also feel a growing sense of self-inflicted pressure from the “keeping up with the special-needs-Joneses” to start a foundation or help others.
Maybe is kinda like not putting your child in year-round club volleyball cause you want to spend time with them this summer, and know that sports are not everything….I mean everyone else is and that is what you have to do if you want your child to play, right?
That is what you do to give your children’s life meaning in my world. Start a foundation. If you don’t, they are just another face in the sea of other special needs faces…. and I am a bad mom. I am selfish. I almost feel if I don’t do something to help them leave a legacy on a grand scale, Iike start a foundation, that I am devaluing their life in someway. I feel like it’s just not enough to be a normal mom, like it doesn’t give me significance or purpose.
It’s so funny, I notice how much I care about what people think even now my 30s and I thought I would totally be over this. So much so, it affects how I parent, the things I like, and the way I dress.
My really been struggling with my shirt lately. I like the worn, vintage t but all the ladies versions have deep V’s in the front. I can never find just a crew neck. It bothers me because I don’t want people to see my boobs. So when I’m home I’ve been wearing my shirt backwards. That way, when I’m constantly bent over dealing with my kids my chest isn’t sticking out.
It’s funny, I don’t even know where it’s appropriate to shop in your 30s. I’m not quite ready for the grown-up section of cardigans and matching shells, but too old for 90% of the junior section.
So back to the shirt incident. When I was over at a 3 year old birthday party, I was stupid and wore a V-neck shirt. I had a tank top under it, (I mean, I’m not a complete hussy) but every time I would bend over I felt like I was showing too much. I felt so silly and I was having this internal battle within myself should I do it? Should I turn my shirt around? What are people going to think of me? Are they even going to notice my shirt is backwards? Do I have enough confidence to do this? Why did I even wear the stupid shirt!?
In the middle of my interrogation of myself, I kept thinking about the concept of pride. Caring about people accepting me. It bothers me when people are not accepting of my children because they still wear diapers, don’t talk, or chew. In fact, I even get insecure as I think about people watching me love on my kids. Will they think I am a weirdo saying, “ba, ba, ba, doe, doe, doe” as I get my 7 year old to smile? Why does it matter? In my heart I am saying, who cares, but in my head I still think it.
I finally did go in the bathroom and turned my shirt backwards. And the funny thing is, nobody noticed. Nobody cared. And here I was so concerned with what people thought of me that they would say something. I want people to notice, but I want them to notice me and LIKE me. Some people even crave bad attention cause that feeds their pride as well. Bad press is better than no press, right?
But I only want people to notice the good I don’t want people to notice the bad. I don’t want you to see my flaws or my pride. Especially when I still feel insecure it’s really hard to be honest.
What does it mean to really be authentic? Because being authentic comes with a whole host of rejection. People may not want to be around you or like you. Maybe I am alone in this, but, sometimes I wish I could be confident like other people or I wish I didn’t care. In high school, I used to say I didn’t care, but I did. It’s much better but still, at 32, I can honestly say there are things that I don’t do simply because of the way people might perceive me.
One of the things that I joke about with my friend Angie, is that if I lived another life with no husband and no kids, I would wear sequin dresses with combat boots and smoke cigarettes at a café in Europe. You know, live a life that is so drastically different from the one that you all ready do. Or be a farmer. Live off the land and sell my veggies at a farmers market out of my 1940 rusty ford truck. And maybe chew tobacco.
Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, quotation marks the grass is not greener on the other side the grass is greener where you water it.” I bet that cigarette smoking combat boots sequin dress girl would be wishing for a life with a husband and kids. And I would still be insecure because I was single and wearing funny clothes.
So in the spirit of trying to overcome my insecurity, I have been intentionally challenging myself to do things outside of the box, like turn my shirt around at a birthday party, or sit in a chair on the side of the road while we watch a train pass and then run back into the car, or post my Lady Gaga costume as my facebook profile pic.
That is the great thing about working with teenagers. You have to lead by example. How can I challenge students to try to live out their faith in real ways and trust if I can’t? We all need to find strength, worth, security, and confidence from the very God who created us.
Funny, even as I’m writing this I’m thinking about going in taking the cigarette part out because I’m thinking my mom and my dad are reading this. Or what in the world people think of me… I work at a church! But that’s part of it I think. Being vulnerable. Not hiding the pieces of you that you may cause people to judge you or think differently of you.
And no, I don’t smoke, I don’t wear combat boots, and I don’t have a sequined dress, or vintage truck for that matter. But I’ll be honest in saying that there are some days that I wish I did. And I’m ok with that.