As I’ve mentioned, my husband and I have three children in our blended family, which has been in the blender for 12 years now: he has 2 boys, aged 12 and 21, whom I consider my own sons, and I have a 16 year old daughter.
When we decided to have another baby, a question I got a lot was “But, why? You’re 37, you’re in a great, busy place in your career and your kids are grown out of that “needy” phase. You’re almost there! Why do it again?”
I’ll tell you why.
Because, these things happen.
The other night, my 16 year old daughter came to me with a problem. She’s in the “tumbling” segment of her high school gym class and they will be graded on being able to do the perfect backbend.
You know what I mean. This one:
My daughter hasn’t ever been interested in gymnastics (a somersault was as far as we got when she was little), so she’s never learned to do a backbend. And the fact that she was struggling with it was really bothering her. She is going to be TESTED on this. And she’s a true Penelope. If she’s going to get a grade, it’d better be a good one.
Before I go on, a bit of background on my daughter. The thing is, she rarely needs my help. Since she was young (like, 5) she has been able to figure out and execute nearly perfectly anything she puts her mind to. School comes easy to her. I mean, she works very, very long and hard, but the actual organization and doing of the work is fairly natural to her.
Unlike with my sons (who are smart, hardworking boys, to be sure) she’s never needed my help. The boys needed me to teach them to keep themselves on task, to manage their time and assignments, to wrangle in their various items of school-related paperwork into a workable system.
Not my daughter. She practically came out of the womb organizing a binder.
All this to say, she’s so easy to parent that sometimes the Leo in me feels unneeded. Narcissistic or not, it’s the truth.
But this night, she needed me. Almost in tears, she came to me for help in learning to do a backbend. I hid, admirably, my joy at being asked for assistance.
I was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t actually show her how to do one. I’m more than capable in my normal body state, but now that I’m 6 and a half months pregnant, a backbend seemed neither possible nor advisable.
So I stuck to going through the various tricks I’d learned back in my childhood gymnastic classes. At first, no luck. It seemed impossible for her. Her arms just didn’t want to lift her up into position.
And then, with a few more tricks and adjustments, she started to see how it might happen. And then, with more work together, she got it. Perfectly. She did it again and again, shocked that something so impossible just a few minutes before, was now not only possible, but easy.
She thanked me profusely and gave me the tightest, least “teenaged” hug she’d given me in forever. She must have thanked me 10 times. Later, right before bed, she quickly laid on the floor to do it again and was so happy it had now become muscle memory for her. Easy! She was delighted. She smiled that smile I used to see all the time but is a bit more rare these days.
And that’s why I want to do this parent thing again. Because every time you can help your children gain a new skill or overcome a challenge, it’s all worth it. Your joy at their successes far, far outweighs joys for your own accomplishments.
I’m not in the business of oohing and aahing over babies for babies sake (though they do smell awfully good) but I am all about helping to create happy, productive humans.
One backbend at a time.