I was a late starter in the world of dance. At the age of eleven I decided that dance was something I really wanted to do and had to do and couldn’t live without. So I entered the world of leotards, tights, shoes and buns. I started with modern jazz and quickly added ballet to the list of classes. Now with ballet you really need to start with the basics and build up from there….so I was placed in a class of five and six year olds. That’s quite a good motivator for anyone….to be twice someone’s age and to be learning something new……I practiced and I pranced and I danced and a twirled and I skipped, all with good toes and bad toes….and I worked my way up the grades….and I sort of caught up to my age group, but never really got there…
While I had determination and drive, its fair to say I never had a huge amount of natural talent. I was never going to be an Anna Pavlova. But it is amazing what you can accomplish through lots of practice and a sheer will to succeed.
Pointe shoes. They were my nemesis. They hurt. They really did hurt. I was never comfortable in them, never felt at ease and never really loved them. Those pretty, shiny pink satin covered blocks of wood became the enemy. My barrier to success.
A couple of years ago I was online looking at ordering some pointe shoes for a friend, to send back to NZ from America. Everything in America was cheaper. Everything. I came upon an article on how to find the right size of pointe shoes for your feet, and I realized that all along in my experience with pointe work, I had been wearing the wrong size shoes. I’d never been properly fitted, never had the best fit for my feet.
And thus began my brief flirt with the idea of the ‘what if?’.
What if I had actually been wearing the right size shoes and what if pointe shoes had no longer hurt?
What if I grew to love them and wearing them became such a natural and easy extension of my life as a dancer?
What if I flew through the upper grades of RAD and my level of talent actually matched my level of enjoyment?
Now I quickly came to realize that even if any of those things had been true…..I was still not a great dancer….but for the meantime, that flirting with the idea of ‘what if’ gave me a false sense of reality…a warped view of the truth. Allowing the ‘what ifs’ to creep in….overshadowed some stark realities.
And isn’t it the same with parenting?
Any and every time that we tango with a ‘what if’ with regards to our children, when we’re looking back in hindsight, from my experience….that ‘what if’ doesn’t do us any favours.
These ‘what ifs’ can be anything from: what if we’d noticed such and such earlier? What if we’d been more proactive in this area? What if we’d made our kid do x, y and z? What if we’d stopped them from doing x, y and z? What if we’re not the right parent with this job? What if I don’t how to handle this issue?
Big and small ‘what ifs’ surround us.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that for me, personally, the fact that all three of my boys have speech impediments/ issues (all three are different too!), has been a big thing for us both practically and for this Mama’s heart. I’ve battled sooooo many ‘what ifs’ over this one. I once got an email from a well-meaning person with a link to a (poorly written and badly researched) news article about a link between television watching and speech problems in kids. Whammo. There’s a massive ‘what if’. It wasn’t until a saw a speech therapist with my oldest boy and she sat me down and told me straight….GENETICS…..that I realized I could no longer hold onto these ‘what ifs’. I can’t escape the fact that these issues have been a part of my boys’ journeys, but I can control how I react to these situations. And believe it or not, I am equipped to help my boys. While I am lacking in a whole bunch of good qualities, just ask my kids, they’ll put you straight. One thing I do possess is patience in bucketloads. And patience is what I need with these boys and their impediments.
If I have what I need, to parent my kids as best I can, both in me and my husband with our giftings combined and with calling on friends who are that little bit further along in their parenting journeys, not to mention as a Christian I believe so very strongly in the changing power of prayer….and I’m just as flawed and a mess as the next person, then I believe you too, have in you what you need, to parent your kids as best as you can.
Whatever the issues you’re facing, I’ve found that you can’t hold onto your ‘what ifs’. They skew your reality. They take your eyes off the goal. I’ve found it takes a lot of energy to focus your thought life on all your negative qualities, all the things you’re lacking in. That energy surely is better spent by focussing on what tools you do have at your disposal to approach different issues, as best you can. Whether they are tools inside of you, or in people who are alongside you.
So what. Let’s all work on eliminating parent guilt. We can live without it.