“Well adjusted” was my goal out of the gates.
I wanted to raise an adaptable little human with a mild mannered disposition.
“Start as you intend to go on,” was the quote that I had on replay.
I had her sleeping through the night in her crib and was able to soothe her back to sleep with no more than a couple pats on the back. And that was my intention because I knew I would be returning to work a short time after her arrival, so in my mind schedule equaled sanity. She learned to eat anywhere. In a proper highchair or with just a belt fashioned around her and the back of the dining room chair to keep her in place. Never mind her mouth barely reached the top of the table.
As even-keeled as they made them, she smiled with her entire face. The sound of music calmed a rare crying fit, and she kept herself content all on her own by finding anything to wear as a hat albeit a washcloth, shower cap or bathing suit bottom.
She had her passport at 3 months. I was determined to make her a world traveler and couldn’t wait to whisk her across the pond to see her German and Norwegian family members. My girl was “well adjusted” after all and could certainly pass a transatlantic flight with flying colors.
We experienced that awful flight as parents that you hope never happens to you. On our way back from Utah to Florida (the last leg of our three-legged journey home from Yellowstone National Park), she started crying. Then she started screaming. And she didn’t stop.
It hurt every speck of my heart, pride and eardrums. When the flight finally came to an end I told my husband that not only were we never going to take her on another flight, we were never going to have another child.
As we were getting off the plane all I could think of was that I wanted to physically shrink down to be able to fit inside the diaper bag I was clutching.
We were a couple steps away from the gate when a woman turned back around and started walking in our direction. I knew she wanted to say something to us. My heart dropped even lower in anticipation of what was going to happen next.
“My heart just broke for you and your sweet baby. I know that must have been so hard, so I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
I don’t remember exactly what I said to that kind woman. But I know I had to hold myself back from wrapping my arms around her neck and hugging her tight. The wounds from that horrendous flight healed, and I realized that well-adjusted maybe wasn’t the “be all end all” for which to strive.
The definition of successful parenting changed for me as a mom. I decided to put all my chips in on raising a kind person. After all, kindness is what this world needs more of. Kindness builds character while breaking down walls and holding a stranger’s hand who was on the other side.
Kindness builds acceptance while seeing beauty in our differences and witnessing the sheer power of compassion. Kindness happened for me in that airport terminal. And it changed me.
I want my child to be the one who stands up for the kid who is being bullied.
I want my child to be the one who finds a seat next to a classmate who is sitting alone in the lunchroom.
I want my child to be one who picks the one who’s “always picked last” first to be on her team.
I want my child to be the one who can be counted on as a true, unwavering friend in good times and in hard times.
I want my child to have the courage to break down barriers if it means opening up hearts.
And that’s probably the opposite of “mild mannered.”