Show yourself: Watching my son grow during lockdown

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Motherkind Zoom session where we talked about transitions in motherhood, and as a final question, we discussed what we were most looking forward to as mothers. When I answered, I did what I normally do, which is to default to making a joke, and I said that I was looking forward to inflicting my various nerdy tastes in books, films, and music on my son. I do stand by that: I can’t wait to see what he thinks of Lord of the Rings, for instance, though I’ll have to try hard not to seem too enthusiastic about it in case he picks up on it and decides to dislike it on principle. But afterwards, I thought a bit more and realised that actually, what I’m most looking forward to about being a mother is the exact opposite. I don’t only want to show him all the things that I like; instead, I want him to find the things that he likes and to show them to me.

At the moment, my son is two and a half, which means that his main interests are Paw Patrol, climbing the furniture, and emptying all of his possessions into a heap on the floor, none of which (I hope) will be permanent personality traits. And it’s not all plain sailing or wide-eyed joyous discovery: we have all the usual battles of wills and situations where he definitely can’t just follow his own whims, beautiful and unique though they doubtless are. However, I’m starting to see hints of other things which are telling me who he is. He plays pretend games with his toys now where they’re friends and they talk to each other. He sings garbled versions of familiar songs to himself when he’s pottering about the house. He remembers things about family members, like Granny not liking porridge and his auntie dancing at her wedding. Most excitingly and promisingly, he often asks me when we can go to the museum to visit the dinosaurs. He’s becoming a tiny person right before my eyes, and it’s wonderful to see. There’s a lot that I’m not enjoying about this particular situation, but watching my son grow is definitely an exception.

One of the things I want to try to be as a parent is accepting. I’d like my son to feel he can tell me who he is, what he thinks, and how he feels. I don’t want him to be what he thinks I want him to be; I want him to be who he is, with the support of his parents and his family and friends. I’m sure I won’t always like it, but at the very least, I want to respect it. I’ve been looking forward to a lot of things after this is all over, but one of the biggest ones being able to let him lead me a little bit more. I can’t wait to see where he takes me.

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