If you have known Luke for a while, you know that he is ridiculously empathetic. He’s always been that way, even as a baby. During the childhood stages where most kids are focused inward, he has had this uncanny ability to feel what others are feeling. It’s his superpower.
Recently, he taught me something extremely important. I don’t think he knows this but I’ll be sure to tell him how awesome he is and hopefully it will put some extra boost power in his rockets.
Okay now, keep the above superpower in mind. I promise my long winded self will tie it in eventually.
Last week, I wrote what was supposed to be a flattering piece about how Tim is rocking the whole dad thing. When I re-read it a few days later, I realized that it was laced with undertones of my own insecurities as a parent. I meant to show you what a great dad Tim is but it kind of turned out weird because I was a bit resentful. Lately, I have felt like I can’t connect with the boys like I used to do when they were littler. As they are growing and maturing I feel like they are slipping away from me. I know that it is a natural part of parenting, separating themselves from us and becoming individuals, but all I keep thinking is, “Not yet! Not yet!” I also can’t help but think that I haven’t put them at the forefront because I have had tons of things to do.
My inadequacies in parenting have been floating under the surface for a while now. Without realizing it, they even came out in a joke I told last week. If you have been following the NFL lately, you’ll get the joke. If not, google Deflategate, and you’ll understand. Before school, Jack was trying to zip up his backpack but he couldn’t get his football to fit all the way inside. I told him, “You could just be like Tom Brady and deflate the football a bit.”
Tim and the boys looked at me in awe. Tim shouted from the office, “Whoa Babe! Nice one.”
I smiled and replied with, “See!?! I’m cool too!!!”
I didn’t realize it yet, but Luke took that response into his mental account and went along with his day. That afternoon, we went doorbelling as a family to promote voting for our local schools in the upcoming election. Sidenote: always vote in favor of helping out the schools. It’s really a no-brainer. Help schools = help kids and promote education = help economy and really all of life in the long run. Simple.
When we started out, Tim and I decided if we split up we could cut the time in half and get back to our Friday afternoon. I took one side of the street and he took the other. Luke shouted out, “I want to go with Mom!” Awww, that made me feel good, but I still had no idea what was going on.
After we got home, Tim and Luke were hanging out on the front porch just chatting when it came out. I guess Luke was really affected by my comment after the Tom Brady joke. He wanted to show me that he still loved me and wanted to be around me. He went out of his way to show me that.
Tim relayed the conversation to me and my first thought was, “Awwwwww, shoooooooot. I messed up big time.”
I shouldn’t have let him know I was feeling like a dumpy mom. All my insecurities and inadequacies should have stayed hidden behind a smile. I could have worked on them without him knowing.
But then, maybe, just maybe, this was good.
Was this a lesson for me?
Why do we as a society and culture have such a problem with needy people? Are we afraid they really aren’t needy and they just want to exploit us? What about the people who really need help, how do they get it? Do their problems and situations get shoved under the rug because of our fear of the small few who are just out to get us?
I like being needed. I like helping and showing the way. Teacher, mom, all my past and current occupations reflect that. Helping is what I want to do for the rest of my life. If no one ever asks though, how will I know how and where to be?
I like being on the giving end, but it leaves me feeling powerless when I am the needy one. What if there is power in being needy? The act of admitting you are powerless is harder to do sometimes. There is inner strength in honesty, even when others perceive you to be on the energy sucking end. What if it was an esteemed position to ask for help as much as it is to offer service?
As with everything in life though we need a balance. I get that. We can’t be the giver all the time and we can’t be the taker all the time either.
There is strength and power in knowing who you are and being honest with those close to you. Not everything looks like Pinterest. I am actually always skeptical when I see someone beautifully put together with a rosy life. Maybe that make me a cynic, but I always think, “What are you hiding?” Vulnerability may seem like it eeks the power out of you, and it might, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Life is messy and imperfect and that fact brings people together, but only if they are honest about it. It’s like, phew, I don’t have to pretend to have it all together because you don’t either. It’s a breath of fresh clean air. So much work has to be put into appearing perfect. I don’t have enough energy for the regular craziness of life so I don’t want to add any other facade I have to put work into keeping up. For me, interacting with people sucks a ridiculous amount of energy from my overall store, I can’t spare any amount for stupid reasons like pretending to have everything figured out.
Can’t we all just be needy together and then help each other out? And by help, I mostly mean just listening and being vulnerable together, instead of offering solutions and fix-alls. When action is needed, we’ll know because we will be asked or the situation will present itself. I really wish we could take the guess work out of it though.
Back to the parenting piece of it. I’m the mom, I should be the one teaching and setting the example. But here is Luke, teaching me about empathy and responding actively when he saw a need. He was the one teaching me and helping me out. This time, we flip flopped roles and I am becoming more okay with that now.
Maybe I was doing a bit of teaching too though. Through this I got to show him that it’s okay to voice insecurities to the ones you love. We are better for it. How else will we be able to lean on and support each other?
So I guess both Luke and I taught each other something. It’s kind of fun swapping the teacher/student parts in our Pell Play. I am looking forward to learning more about life from him. He’s a pretty awesome dude. If Tom Brady only knew his Deflategate was the catalyst for an important parenting lesson, he would totally blast it in the media. Your welcome Patriots, this is the only positive thing that will come out of Super Bowl XLIX for you.