My toddler is picking up words, sentences, phrases at an astonishing rate these days. It's mostly hilarious and amazing, but it sometimes stops me in my tracks. When she’s upset she’s started saying “I’m sorry, mama, sorry!” - which grabs at my heart like nothing else. What could this incredible, genuine, fresh little human possibly have to feel sorry about?
It’s been a bit shocking to both my partner and I to now notice just how often we walk around apologising to each other for our very humanness. I’m sorry I’m not feeling well, I’m sorry I’m feeling emotions, I’m sorry I have this need right now.
Kids are potent little teachers. Mirroring yourself back at you again and again and again.
And there's the intensity of spending a large amount of time with a young one. How it necessarily stirs up our own experiences of childhood.
Was the world a safe place, ripe for exploration? It can so easily become one of harsh boundaries, incessant reprimands - direction that hems us in, restrains us, has us questioning our own agency and abilities. Where we might lose any sense of orienting inward for guidance - to trust our bodies or instincts or intuition. Where this outward looking for authority, for permission, validation continues well into our adulthood. Where it might even leave us apologising for our very existence.
There’s the many, many times a day I attempt to stop myself from saying “careful!”. Obviously a deep and persistent piece of my own toddlerhood, I’m clear that raising a Careful Child is not my goal. Careful can so easily become a trap, a prison, one keeps us afraid of slipping, of falling, of making the very mistakes that teach us. Careful takes us out of our desires and flow and direction, makes us question ourselves, our abilities - has us slow ourselves, stop ourselves, maybe even give up all together.
A very smart mama friend shared that she says “I’m noticing.” As in "I’m noticing that looks slippery, unstable, very high up" - etc. Which for me, is just brilliant. Most of the time, in speaking what I’m noticing, essentially speaking my fear, I realise it’s not that scary after all. That I trust my kid to be okay if she trips and falls. Trust the importance of her need to explore. Trust that tumbles teach her about her body and its limitations as well as its amazing capacity to heal.
And most especially that I trust myself to be able to hold her tears and kiss her scrapes and make everything better again. Trust that experiencing pain and discomfort and slips is all part of this human experience of learning and growing. That these aren’t things to fear or to be paralysed by. They’re opportunities to look for support. Opportunities to be human - fallible, vulnerable, yet resilient.
What are your kids teaching you these days?