Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Worthiness Wednesday #85: Ask not what is wrong with you
Recently, I was telling my therapist about a dear friend who is pregnant with her fourth child. Her eldest is the same age as mine: about to turn four.
I confessed that while I was delighted for my friend -- who was keen to have her children close together in age -- a part of me was grieving. "What's wrong with me," I whispered, tears rolling down my cheeks, "That I can't even manage a second, when she's onto her fourth!"
Recently, I attended a morning tea for parents at my daughter's kindergarten. I got chatting to a chap whose son was about to turn four, just like my little 'un, where most of their peers were a year older.
"Like you, and all going well, I am intending to send my daughter to school next year," I confided, "But we seem to be in the minority." I asked him if he'd mind sharing his own thoughts about whether to hold his son back for another year so he wouldn't be one of the youngest in the class.
This man was generous and candid and I felt very reassured by his measured response. His son was his first child so, like me, every experience was a new frontier. Like me, he wondered whether he was pushing his child too far before he was ready or whether holding back would, well, hold him back.
The next day, I bumped into this man again as I dropped my daughter off. He made a point of walking up to me and saying, "Hey, I was talking to my wife about our conversation yesterday, and she wanted me to tell you that she'd spoken to two school principals in the area about whether or not to hold your child back."
It turned out, these two principals were of the view that there was no significant benefit to holding a child back from starting school unless parents have strong views on the basis of emotional, physical or developmental issues. That said, one of the principals in question had held her own daughter back a year and remained certain it had been absolutely the right thing to do.
My therapist honoured my grief as I processed the impact of this fertility journey, then noted: "Your impulse was to ask 'What's wrong with me?'. But someone who grew up in a family where the children were all born close together might ask, 'What's wrong with your friend? That is to say, why does she feel such urgency? What does she assume the benefits are of having her children so close together in age?'."
Of course, the point is not whether it's right or wrong to have your children one year apart or over four. It's also not about whether you send your kid to primary school at the age of four or five.
It's about perspective. My therapist was right (of course). My knee-jerk reaction, my introject, my samskara is always to assume that there is something wrong with me. That I am making the wrong choice. That I do not know enough or have enough. That I am not giving enough or doing enough.
That I am not enough.
This week, I am processing this information, once again. It's an old old story. In fact, it's the oldest, deepest, most entrenched story I have. Despite all evidence to the contrary. It's the story I am going to be learning and unlearning for the rest of my life.
I am very grateful to my therapist for the new perspective. I am also indebted to that kind kinder dad for making a point of sharing information that he thought might reassure me. It did.
But now I want to practice noticing, acknowledging, shifting on my own.
This week, I invite you to notice the times when you assume: what's wrong with me? I'm certainly not advocating jumping to the conclusion that "I'm not the wrong one: they are."
But maybe, just maybe, everyone's perspective really is different. And, in the mix, there is enough room for yours.
Because you actually know what's best for you and yours.
And because you are enough.