I will be the first to admit that I’m relationally challenged. Of course being around hubby for over a decade has helped tremendously and given me some new skills for relating to people, but the real game-changer for me in this area has been becoming a parent. And not just a parent, but a parent to a high need kid.
I was raised from birth mainly by my paternal grandmother, a lady who was not a warm, fuzzy person by any stretch of the imagination. According to my mom, my grandma liked to wear her hair up in a tall Chinese Afro and would pinch me whenever she was upset. So suffice it to say, it’s not surprising that I never felt close to her. And knowing what I know now from having studied child development, I know that what a caregiver does or doesn’t give to a baby has a lot of impact on the baby’s future relationships with other people. So sigh, that meant I had a lot of relearning to do about relationships!
And who better to learn relational skills from than my firstborn? 🙂 I can put a smiley face down now only because I have gone through the toughest of lessons and am seeing some of the work paying off. But in the beginning of the journey, using one of those “bawling your eyes out” emoticons would have been more appropriate! I had started the parenting adventure believing a baby was someone I could have fun dressing up, someone who would go along with my plans and someone I could have a checklist for – fed, burped and changed (check), sleeping through the night (check), etc. Little did I know that our baby, despite how small he was at birth (5lbs 11oz to be exact), had his own personality, needs and wants, schedule and plans and they were all completely opposite from mine! I soon found out I could not treat E like a checklist or a doll, but I needed to get to understand him and what he needed, or should I say demanded, from me as a mom. Now that I think about it, he has been trying to relate to me from his first day in big, blazing lights (well, actually through tears and screams!) that he needs to be cuddled, nurtured, and loved like the precious, living and breathing person that he is. I had A LOT to learn about what it means to love someone. I could handle the easy, fun part of “love” like buying clothes for E or setting up his room, but when it came to considering his needs, sacrificing my plans and being inconvenienced for his sake – GRRR! Yes, I had a lot to learn. :p
Thankfully, E is a persistent teacher (stubborn like me!) and thankfully I began to change my attitude and ways about relating to him. Our relationship has grown and I enjoy getting to know and appreciate him more each day. And C, being the second born, has benefited even more from my newly acquired skills. We are BFF’s who like to browse through jewelry departments together and have on occasion danced in the ladies room of a Chinese restaurant. 🙂 I am very grateful to be close with both my kids.
|Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net|
So who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’m proof that with a good teacher and sufficient motivation, change is possible.
Here’s my all-time favorite song by Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror“.
How has becoming a parent changed you?