Sometimes I want to be seen as that mom with her kids in a neat, orderly line. Everyone saying the right things, doing the right things, all on cue. Like I have a tight rein on them. I want to be seen that way, but I don’t actually want that. I don’t want that much restriction for my kids. I don’t want that much repression or oppression. But I want to be seen that way. Thinking about this made me realize this is yet another insecurity. I want people to see calm and order and to not pick up on my scared inner trembling. My nervous questioning self is wondering if they think I’m doing a good job, or if they’re secretly criticizing me, or if maybe they want me to just go away.
My inner chaos or calm will be revealed by my kids.
That, I think, is true. My inner chaos or calm will be perceived by my kids, lived out by them, and then revealed to those around me. My kids pick up on my nervousness or confidence, my tension or my calm. And they respond accordingly. It’s a part of ‘social referencing.’ Kids look to adults to determine how to react to a situation, especially an unfamiliar situation.
With this in mind, I no longer want even to be perceived as being the lady with her kids in line. I want my own exuberance and joy to be reflected by my children (I think it is). My kids might be a little too loud sometimes, they might have a little too much energy, and they might be too eager to show affection to their friends. But that’s how I feel inside. I experience life at a higher volume than most, and with all the energy I can muster, and with all the love in the world. God fills me with a holy love that overflows from my heart, through my kids, and on to everyone we encounter. That kind of spillage may not be neat, or quiet, and it probably won’t stay neatly in line.
That’s why joy is contagious. It spreads like cooties.
But those cooties accompany a more secure, confident self. And a more secure, confident parenting style. The cooties bring a freedom from worrying about what other people think or how they evaluate what they see. Their evaluations would inherently be flawed because they can never know my story, my place, my background, my character, or my heart. And the cooties bring a sense of that and I’m able to let go of their spoken judgment, and ignore their unspoken judgments. And that freedom calms my children.
My freed, calmed soul is reflected in my free, calm children.
Well, maybe not calm. We are talking about a toddler here. But you get the idea.