That word has so many different meanings. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Mature-ally.
Physically I’ve definitely grown — har-de-har-har — Mentally… well I’m still prone to bouts of being a giggling 12-year old. But then I also have moments where I use words like “expenditures” and “formulated opinion” which make me sound smart. Sorta.
Emotionally? I’m working on it. I’m stubborn and sarcastic. I’m sensitive and mouthy. I tend to bottle things up as a protective layer and mostly dislike sharing my hurts or anxieties because I don’t really enjoy unsolicited advice or criticisms. I’d much rather rant to someone and then have them change the subject to casseroles that freeze well or how many mosquito bites you got in a 10-minute period.
Point is, I don’t like feeling vulnerable when it comes to feelings and how I’m honestly feeling. Honesty… that’s a complex thing, yes? I’m good at the surfacey things. How was my day? Oh let me tell you! What’s for dinner? Just wait and see! How am I feeling? Do you really want to know? Where do I begin…
And really, where do you? It’s like when you’re at the grocery store and you run into an acquaintance and casually throw out the “how are you?” and get their 65-minute life story about stubborn hemorrhoids and gout instead of a brief “fine, thanks!” that you were aiming for. No one really wants to know the answer to that question, right? We’re all so accustomed to being “fine, thanks!” that when we’re asked the question – really asked – we stick to the surfacey things because that’s what’s comfortable. It’s what’s familiar.
The truth is, I’m insecure. I’m unsure. I’m anxious, emotional, wobbly, and sometimes overly-sensitive. But I’m also a mother to two beautiful little girls and I can’t let those shortcomings get the best of me because I don’t want them growing up being wobbly and anxious. And for all the things I am, one of the things I’m not and never really was, was shy. The insecurities that have creeped up on me over the past 10 years has changed that trait a bit, but I’ve still managed to hang on to the bit of me that is mouthy and opinionated. (Kyle is so grateful for that!)
It’s hard for me to understand someone who is painfully shy to the point of almost shutting down completely in a social situation. That’s how Jovi is, and it’s hard for me to watch as a mother and harder for me to understand. It’s difficult to reconcile the Jovi I know: the boisterous, precocious, my-life-is-a-musical, jovial, never-stops-talking, questioning, opinionated, smart, stubborn, beautiful little girl with the one who closes down around unfamiliar people. Who cries when she spots me across the pool at swimming lessons. Who stares at her feet when her preschool teachers talk to her at the start of her day.
I wish I could… I don’t even know.. I don’t wish to change her because that would mean changing what makes her her. But it’s frustrating to watch this little girl I know, who is totally full of life and sass, shut down completely when she’s in unfamiliar territory. It’s hard not to play the “I Wish….” game. I have to stop myself from doing that and let her find her own way. Stop making excuses to other people as to why she won’t look at them or talk to them. She is who she is and she is my heart and my girl. My baby; my firstborn. My miracle.
And I need to remember that children always act differently when they’re around their own parents. Her shyness was magnified ten-fold when Kyle and I were there to watch. The quivering bottom lip, the welled-up eyes … those were heart-wrenching for me to see. Why am I torturing her with something she so obviously hates?
Then I remembered that preschool was a definite process. It took months – six of them – for her to not cry almost every morning before I dropped her off. One day she had a breakthrough and told me flat-out I’m not going to cry at school today, mommy. And she didn’t! And she hasn’t since. Growing.
Swimming lessons were only two weeks long, but she finished them. And she began learning a life-saving skill — that part is obviously priceless, but so was the accomplishment itself. She did it, and I am proud of her for sticking to it. For growing more.
It’s only the beginning!