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brand-new

So, it’s a brand new year in these parts.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. ~~Albert Einstein

It’s probably because I’m the mother of just one, but in many respects, my new years start in December. I mark time by the birth of this child. Only 6.5 lbs at birth, he was large and robust for a 5 week premature boy. He’s been a fighter since the beginning—I have the stretch marks to prove it. “He shouldn’t . . . ” has been a part of our vocabulary from the beginning. But he has. He’s thrived despite being premature. He’s communicated despite not really talking until 3. He’s endured, despite being different from the rest of his peers. And he continues to push me and challenge me and inspire me.

At no time, in all the battles and disappointments, have I ever wanted anything but him. And I have known from the moment he came on the scene that he was my calling. I’m not perfect. I’ve had my moments where I’ve wondered if I was the right mother for the task. I’ve had moments where I’ve wanted to abdicate parenting all-together. This child thinks he can parent himself, let him.

But for all his head-strong ways (he proudly redefines stubborn, my friends. He considers it his life goal to be contrary. I have no idea where he gets that.) he remains one of the most inspiring people I know. He questions everything. And I refuse to see that as a bad thing.

Ok, unless he’s questioning my parenting at 11 pm. Then I draw that line—but in general, I’ve made a choice to see the good in this child. To not buy into the labels outsiders have tried to stick on him–questioning the wisdom in seeing his gifts  as “deficits.”  To focus on his progress, not constantly point to his struggling. Surely, there is a way to see the remarkableness  in another human being and  support it? Even if we don’t really understand it and it drives  a bit gray before our time. Surely we can see past homogenized ideals (sweet little kindergartners,  compliant, sitting nicely at their desks) and embrace the different (Yes, baby, your green eyes mean you have superpowers)? Maybe we can even teach this child who questions everything, and everyone, to question the Universe. Maybe, we can teach him to channel all that disobedience and “to hell with authority” attitude in the right direction? Maybe, we can parent him with love not judgement, joy  not shame, support not derision.

Who would parent a child with judgement, shame, and derision? More than you would imagine.

Choosing to see the good does not make me a fabulous parent. Quite the contrary! My child once said to me, “Mom, every kid deserves parents who believe in them.” He’s right, every child does. But every child doesn’t get it. Trust me on this.

No, believing and supporting doesn’t set me up for the Mother of the Year award. From where I stand it sets me at the starting point of good parenting. It’s everything that comes after that will determine if we succeeded at the task. And only time will tell. My child, who still feels so brand new to me, will grow up and judge my actions—and he will be able to tell you if I was a good mom.

I hope he’ll say yes. Not because I was perfect. I’m not. But because I continue to talk with this questioning child of mine. I own up when I fail. I apologize when I’m in the wrong.  I continue to test the boundaries and release more and more of his life to him. Letting them go is the hardest part. And I hope that he will be able to look back and see how I’ve been letting him go from the moment he was brand new. Not because I didn’t love him. But because I knew, that this premature fighter wasn’t going to be mine forever. And if I was lucky, I would parent him to see beauty. To seek joy. To do justice. To know love. To  dream and inspire others to dream. To choose to see the good. And to never, ever stop questioning.

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