“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” ~The Rolling Stones
It was another evening of endless homework and confusion at our house tonight. These nights are exhausting and occurring with far too great a frequency lately. It’s a wonder I have a hair left in my head with all the pulling I’ve been doing lately. Where’s Calgon when you need it?
I love my beautiful, green-eyed son, Joe. He is bright, articulate, and gentle. He has not one aggressive or intentionally mean bone in his body. He struggles mightily with school, but every day he goes back and tries again. He has to work twice as hard as many of his classmates for just half the results but he soldiers on. He loves babies and small children and is a natural caretaker. He hates to cuddle but will send me text messages and Facetime me from his iPad when we’re just one floor apart because he misses me. He is a serious, deep-thinker who laughs hardest with his brother, whom he adores. He loves geography and will spend hours staring at Google Earth and studying the planet. Go ahead. Ask him. He’ll happily tell you that Timbuktu is in Mali and that Nuuk is the capital of Greenland. (Did you even know Greenland had a capital? I didn’t until Joe told me.) He’s smart, insightful, and intuitive. His intense sensitivity breaks my heart.
When he was born, like all new parents, I had expectations of what parenting him would be like. I envisioned early foreign language lessons, sports camps, and piano recitals. What I didn’t envision is that he would have trouble speaking his native tongue, have difficulty coordinating his movements between right and left, and have a complete inability to clap his hands in tune to music. His struggles with the most basic things, including tying his shoes, have vexed me until I thought I would go crazy trying to figure out how to help him. Through it all, though, he has carried on to the best of his abilities, perpetually hoping to please and knowing someday he will get it right.
A while back, something occurred to me. There is a reason that I was sent this incredible boy. I’m not here for him. He’s here for me. Joe came to me because I need to let go of expectations and find beauty in what is and not what I want to be or what I hoped would be. Life with Joe is never according to plan. Because of Joe, I’ve learned to have a Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D and to prepare to have to actually use Plan H. Parenting him is the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted to do. However, I have learned more from him in the past ten years than I learned in the thirty-three years prior to his arrival. Not a day with Joe goes by without a lesson for me. What a gift that is to a woman whose life purpose from day one has been a quest to gain knowledge.
Parenting this green-eyed boy has been not at all what I expected, but it’s been exactly what I needed.