I live in constant wonderment over my three children. They are a lot of work, drive me batshit crazy and at the same time, impress me everyday with who they are as human beings. The world is such a beautiful quilt of unique people and I like being able to intimately know three of those people. I think that is the blessing and true gift of parenthood--a very in-depth look into tiny bits of the human beings that drive this world to be all the things it is.
I mostly think the world is good and people are amazing--even when they are very, very flawed and despite my constant complaining about the people around me. I mostly struggle with people I see not trying their best--and this isn't to say trying your best always makes you behave in positive ways. It's hard to explain this.
I know my perspective has been shaped by the intense situations my life has presented. Growing up with a brother with special needs definitely shaped my expectations of people. My parents always had to try their best with David--the world left no choice. One parenting misstep and I'd witness the school or the community circling like a pack of very judgmental dogs pretending to be helpful.
I remember, once, when I was in high school and David was in Middle School, listening to phone call my Dad received from school. I was home sick; David had been home sick a couple days prior. We both had colds. David was feeling better; but still had a runny nose, much like I would have for days and days on end. My Dad sent David to school because like all children he needed school. He needed the structure and consistently and the learning opportunities to help him grow and mature.
The school disagreed with my father's choice. My Dad was livid. I heard him say: "I am his father. I don't need your permission for anything."
David couldn't defend himself and did not have the capacity to efficiently blow his nose. It is a ridiculous thing. I remember thinking--just leave my brother alone.
But, then my Father hung up and told me: "Remember this. Remember people won't always be at their best; but they will demand your best."
I always did my best to remember the things my father told me to remember. I knew I wouldn't have him very long. I think of this moment very school year, when I get calls or emails demanding to know why my children are not perfect--sometimes the communication will even go so far to reference an accommodation we have in place and suggest that they are being accommodating, but my child is not.
People who live without enormous struggle are often not forced to be at their best.
But, for those of us who are trying to overcome massive odds, we have to be at our best. We have to be at our best to survive and to thrive. I had to be at my best when Lily and Chloe were both born too early. I have to continue to be at my best everyday of my life to support and guide my daughter who survived a brain tumor and to do the same for her siblings, who don't have the same medical diagnosis, but carry the scars just the same.
And being at my best does not mean perfection. It does not mean good behavior. It means rising above all the nonsense and fighting the good fight. It means picking the battles with the short and long games in mind.
It is exhausting. But, again, I am so happy to be the one who gets to do this job for those kids. No one could do it the way I do it and it is a gift to be at my best.