Thursday, January 30, 2014
My daughter is teaching me how to be a champion. I'm sure most parents -- at least, the committed ones -- hit this point eventually. Your child needs you in a kind of... extraordinary way. Not the usual diapers, food, physical/fleeting needs way. But real help, big help, long-term kind of way. Maybe it's when she first starts school and doesn't know how to make friends. Or when she realizes that her friends are mean and doesn't know how to stop being friends. Or when she gets her first job and her boss is rude. Or when she meets a guy and thinks he's "the one" and doesn't know how to know. I can remember my own parents jumping to action for me -- not fixing it, whatever "it" was, but championing me. Rooting, fighting for, pushing (lovingly), reminding me of my capabilities and worthiness. The fight was worth it, the work was worth it, because I was worth it.
My daughter needs me champion-style now. We do a lot of hard work together, things that wear her out and make her cry. She needs help learning how to sit up, how to hold weight on her feet, how to pull her head up big and strong. She's done a lot of fighting so far, but I have to keep rooting her on because the battle is not yet won. I have to cheer her (with my face and hands since she can't hear my "good job, baby!" though I say it anyway... I can't not). I have to make her do hard things -- press those feet flat, pull that chin up, stretch those arms out, lock them, you can crawl. I have to push her, keep going even when she cries because when she cries? Where it hurts? That's what needs the most work. That's what we have to do the most.
It's hard for both of us. It's hard for her, physically. We work her muscles and I can see her strain. She can do it a few times and then she starts to get tired and she bobbles and wobbles, fighting to hold her place but eventually losing it, dropping or drooping or letting go. I give her a rest and then we go again, back to it because she has to get stronger, she has to keep going, she has to keep pushing. It's hard for me, mentally and emotionally. It's hard to see her struggle and push her harder instead of rescuing her. It's hard to remember why we're doing these stupid exercises one more stinking time when they don't seem to help. It's hard to make myself want it when she couldn't seem to care less. She's stubborn and reluctant. I push hard, but she pushes back, resists. Luckily for her, I tell her, I have many more years of practice at this stubborn thing and there's no way she'll win that battle. ;)
But most of all, I have to remind myself that she's worth it. I can lose sight of that in the mundanity, the difficulty, but it's the core of all this. She's worth the ringing in my ears from her loud protests. (Seriously, she's so loud, it physically hurts me.) She's worth the scratches all over my face because I'm what keeps her interested, motivated, distracted. She's worth the mind-numbing boringness of spending hours of my life pressing her feet onto the floor, tiny, cold, protesting feet that just want to flick back up and float in the air. She's worth all the books I could have read in that time and life-changing movies or TV shows I could have filled my brain with and compelling blog posts I missed out on reading because I was busy circling her with my arms to catch her when she tips from her sit.
She's a tiny little soul, sent to grow inside me, right next to my heart. And she doesn't live in there any more, but she's still inside me, right next to my heart, right there as a piece of it. And what I have to remember most is that while she was sent to me, she was sent... to me. As she is a gift to me, I am a gift to her. And we are meant to fight together. She is my tiny boxer in the ring and I am her cornerman (cornermom?). I'm the one cheering for her, telling her what to watch for, what to do next. I'm the one wiping off her blood and icing her bruises and giving her water. And I'm the one sending her back out there, confident, because I've got her back. This is her and this is me and this is what we do, together. And while I've not a clue what kind of prize comes with this fight (is there a belt for becoming a grown up?), I have a distinct feeling that we're going to win.