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I am a circle and he is an oval

It’s been said that love is the recognition and delight of ourselves in others (Alexander Smith), but good writing is this, too. Meaningful writing doesn’t have to use 20 point words or keep rhythm with some iambic beat. It merely needs to ignite a tiny spark of that me, too, flame eagerly waiting to flicker in less alone, more empathetic fires. I would argue it doesn’t even have to garner multiple me, too’s – sometimes the Spirit speaks through us for just one person.

I read this article by Mary Ostyn last week and I ached.

I’ve been feeling like the worst kind of shape sorter lately. One who’s trying to cram my circle self into a triangle opening and one oval little boy into a square one. I am jamming and pushing and stressing. And we do not fit. He’s the fire and ice that so often is his dad and I and we just don’t seem to fit right now, in this space of time.

“We need to love the children we have, just as they are, instead of prodding them endlessly to be what they’re not. Because as long as we’re pushing our kids to do something else, to be something other, to give more than they are able to give in a moment – we’re going to struggle with negative emotions toward them. When we can allow them to be the people they were created to be, we allow the relationship to grow towards something enjoyable. We allow ourselves to see the unique and amazing people they already are, people who, just like us, are learning to navigate a world full of humans. Obviously our children need guidance and direction – we can’t leave challenging behavior completely unaddressed. But compassion and grace and cool-off time go lots further than frustration.” ~ Mary Ostyn

Her words breathed that tiny spark into being for me. I’ve been feeling so much pressure and expectation to contort our boy into something he is not, and thus myself into someone I am not and this exercise bears repugnant fruit.

There are a thousand reasons to feel inadequate, and nearly as many reminders as there are reasons, but that’s not a legacy, it’s a lie. If we remind ourselves no matter who or what our children become, they will always be short of the mark to someone, maybe this will give us the wisdom to separate the wheat from the chaff. They’ll always be too shy, too loud, too slow, too fast for someone.

Someone will always be there to point this out.

Even the seemingly helpful, well-intentioned ones may speak words that need careful sifting to keep the intention, but dismiss the hurtful.

If we don’t teach our kids to be nice to themselves and build up who they are, instead of who they are not, we are only keeping company with the wrong someones.

I am a circle and he is an oval, and as un-profound as I can be – it is what it is. I will not un-hem who we are to bind to something we are not.

I’ve been worrying and praying and worrying some more. I was praying for the hard thing to go away. I was, but I’m not anymore. I’m taking a cue from Ann Voskamp, “Be Brave. And do not pray for the hard thing to go away. But pray for a bravery to come that’s bigger than the hard thing… There are angels closer than you know.” 

Doesn’t this look like a boy whose bravery is encircled with a flight of invisible angels?

Shouldn’t I act more like one of those angels and less like the one cramming ovals into squares?

Newly bolstered with lots of family time and a relaxing weekend, I’m feeling braver about the hard things. Ready to begin again, try again.

It’s a brand new blustery, sunny day to go out and grab the bull by the horns. We’ve got this. And you do, too.