During our wedding mass, our priest told us to imagine our new marriage as two seedling trees, newly planted next to each other. Together and close, but with enough space between them to grow healthfully and to their full potential. That one nugget has knocked around in my head many times since our wedding day. I consider it fabulous advice for newlyweds and parents alike.
My sweet daughter Abby has always been timid with new people and situations. She'll try new things and go new places but she doesn't like to talk much during these adventures. Hoping to raise Abby as a polite, interactive and socially comfortable child, I've always been her social fairy godmother, prompting her to say thank you after a compliment has been delivered, to return a friendly "Hello!" with an equally friendly, "Hi!" and to generally interact with others graciously.
As a parent, this is my job. I've taken it very seriously. As a parent, it is also my job to allow my child to be who SHE is at HER pace. I realized today that I haven't allowed enough space between her rapidly growing tender-leaved tree and my own solid, old tree.
Today we were at lunch and our server complimented Abby on her necklace. Abby smiled nervously at the woman and paused. I held my breath. The less-aware, less-evolved me (read: yesterday's Denise) would have quielty said to Abby, "What do you say, honey?". Today's me just sat and waited. Three long seconds later Abby looked the woman straight in the eye and responded to her compliment with a gracious, "Thank you."
Swooosh. I could feel the wind joyously dance in the space between us. I exhaled. Abby beamed. On this Mother's Day, I am reminded that yes, I am a teacher. But I am also a student, learning from this very wise, tender-hearted young tree.