I was first bewildered and enchanted by the movie Ruby Sparks five years ago. It was on last night…Ruby Sparks is one of my favorite movies. In its essence, it conveys two truths. One, that our desires are endless and we must come to terms with that. Endless. Really. We think we want a particular person with their according nature and give us about a year and there is a list of things we would change about that very person. Two, that true love is being present to what makes up a person and learning to love everything, every thing that someone is. The movie is relevant to the romantic and the realist. This time, the movie speaks to me as a mother.
So, what’s the movie about? In a nutshell, a talented and quirky writer writes his dream girl into life. By the power of ink and his typewriter, he can make her do whatever he so pleases, change her to his every whim and fancy. Paper becomes the canvas of what may be almost every man’s dream.
Quite early on he vows not to ever write about her again, “she is perfect.” However, as she sways to the beat of her own nature his insecurities and ego get the better of him and his magical fingers change her and then change her again until we cannot see who Ruby actually is anymore.
So, what does this have to do with our children?
We smile with glee when our children display pleasing behaviour; when they shine on the sports field or make a joke and everyone laughs. When they say out of the blue “I love you mommy” or we feel the tightest embrace, just because.
Yes, we as parents have all the energy and patience for those moments that stroke the ego. But just wait until our kids are throwing items off the shelves at the supermarket, refusing to go to sleep when there is school the next day or insists on helping you with your work typing away on the keyboard as your deadline nears. Then, we have little to zero patience and a whole lot of frustration. Yes, children should have routine, what is right and wrong should be explained with reason however it seems that when a child does not cater to us then our reactions to their behaviour often comes from a place of fear, anxiety and a lack of patience. In those moments, we compare them to other kids, give them warnings, punishment and place that fear and anxiety on them…. ignorantly or innocently. I know that it can be tough, time-consuming, exhausting but in those moments, is when they need us to be at our best; for us to drop our lives, zone in on them and help.
In those moments, we need to have the emotional and intellectual space to give of ourselves; to know what would be most helpful for our children. I know there are bills, there’s work and all the other things that take up our time and energy whether we want them to or not but I truly believe that in those moments when our children need us the most and we are deeply challenged we can influence generations. That can be the moment a child remembers for the rest of his life; so impactful that when they are faced with similar challenges later in life…time stops, they lower themselves to their red-faced, runny-nosed, unsettled-faced-child, wipe their tears and in a rational, loving voice go on the journey with this little being to comfort him. I believe those are the moments that can live on and those are the moments that make Mothers and Fathers and Love immortal.
On the point of children listening to parents; well, a child is not brought into this world to listen to a parent or anyone for that matter. I do not believe their true intention is to defy us either. They are human beings, not robots or the PVR. A child is brought into this world to grow into itself with parents, caregivers facilitating that growth with patience, understanding and as witnesses. What helps me deal with the FACT that my son does have a mind of his own is understanding that he may very well not listen to what I say most of the time. It just helps with me having more realistic expectations of him. I know that as he grows, he will tune into his own sense of right and wrong, into his conscience and all a parent can do is help the best way they know how and pray their child or children are happy, healthy and safe through their decisions and through life.
Our children are here to remind us to leave our egos at the door. Yes, we can inform them what is right and wrong, we can explain something and then explain it again in a different way but whether the child is 2 or 22 years old he is going to figure things out for himself and in his own way, at his own pace. We must be observant, in tune to help that child learn to catch himself. In the end, it may be all we are here for as parents.
Loving ourselves through our children is the worst possible disservice to them. If we get a kick out of a child’s preference for us and encourage ourselves as a preference, then we get a kick out of dependence. I am not talking about financial independence of a child ; getting a job earning an income I am talking about emotional and intellectual independence which is far superior. Yes, we must show affection and help our children be secure but ultimately that human being should have the space and confidence to realise his own strengths, even his own limtations. The strength to be able to sit with his thoughts and emotions and allow for self-reflection. To know, deep down that he has the ability to do his best, to try.
Our duty is to raise an independent human being. I am not talking about financial independence. I am talking about emotional and intellectual independence, which is far superior. Yes, we must show affection and help our children be secure but ultimately that human being should have space and confidence to realize his own strengths, even his own limitations. The strength to be able to sit with his thoughts and emotions and allow for self-reflection. To know, deep down that he has the ability to do his best, to try.
And so, as parents, we are witnesses to our children’s lives. We are there to facilitate their growth into themselves. Our children are not to be moulded into our past hopes, they are not born to massage our egos. They are here, for their own becoming, their own adventure and we are privileged to be on that journey for however long they decide we can be. That way we can just simply love them, just because they are who are they. Sad or happy, sick or healthy, short or tall, crying or laughing we are there when needed to sit there, holding their hand in silence so they can hear their own voice and heal themselves.
What would I change about you Rocky?
Nothing. Not a thing.