Friday, July 10, 2009

What I Want for Hadley

So I've decided that this parenting thing is pretty fabulous and totally befuddling. Just when I get a handle on one phase, Hadley moves on to something else. (This week: catnapping.) I feel like Jason and I have pretty good instincts, and when we're wrong, we look at each other, shrug and say, "Rookie mistake." What else can you do? 

I assumed a lot of things about babies before I had one, and most of those assumptions were wrong. Example: Babies sleep whenever they need to sleep. Not so! Babies sometimes sleep when they need to, but sometimes (read: often) you have to work really hard to get them to sleep, even when it's apparent to everyone--including the neighbors--that your baby in particular needs to sleep.

(In Hadley's defense, I do have to say that she's a very good nighttime sleeper. Last night, we put her down at 8 and she slept until 7 this morning.) If only we could figure out this napping thing...

Which brings me to my point about parenting being a bit tricky. Napping is kind of a minor detail in the grand scope of things. She'll get it eventually. We'll figure it out. But as she gets older, it'll get trickier to teach her the things she needs to know. She won't necessarily become compassionate child, or curious, or joyful. We'll have to help her develop those skills. Sometimes I wonder...How exactly will we teach Hadley these things?

And so, while I'm thinking about how being a parent pretty much makes me feel like a total rookie most of the time, I've decided to write down a few things I pray Hadley becomes.

--First, while I want her to be happy, I hope happiness is never her end goal. A lot of parents say they "just" want their children to be happy. I don't feel like that sums up my feelings at all. Sometimes, we encounter situations that require us to do what makes us most unhappy--because making that choice is right and good, even if we feel grumpy or lousy or really disappointed about it. And making those choices is one way that I think God gives us joy (which is really different from plain ol' happiness).

--I hope she's brave. I don't want her to grow up without fear (of jumping off the roof, say, to see if she can fly), but I want her to feel the thrill of trying something that scares her a little bit. I don't want her to always choose the safe route; some of the best surprises in life happen when we see what's beyond the imaginary boundaries we each have.

--I hope she's honest. I don't just mean that I hope she tells the truth, though I do hope she tells the truth. I mean, I hope Hadley is the genuine kind of honest, the kind of honest that makes her speak up when her friend is hurting, or when the nerdiest kid on the playground needs someone to stick up for him. The kind of honest that gives her the courage--and the conviction--not to hide behind cliches, not to avoid confrontation when someone or something needs to be confronted. I hope she learns that quiet is not the same as peace, and that disagreeing isn't the same as disrespecting.

--I hope she's curious. I think this goes with being brave. This world is a fascinating place--scary, yes--but also amazing. I want Hadley to fear the truly evil and to embrace the unknown. Helping her find that balance is going to be a big job for Jason and me, but if she gets it, it will be so worth it.

--Finally (for now), I hope she grows up with some inkling of how deeply we love her. She'll never learn these other things if she doesn't know love--big, honest, spilling-all-over-the-place love--first. How can you believe in goodness in the world without knowing love? How can you feel confident enough to try something that scares you a bit, if you haven't known the security of love? How can you love someone else, like the nerdiest kid on the playground, if you haven't felt loved first? 

When it comes to Hadley, we'll always be rookies. That's how it goes with first children. Her firsts are our firsts. So we begin by loving her with this crazy, big love we have, and we'll do our best to teach her these (and about 978 more) skills. When we get it right, we'll rejoice and breath a sigh of relief. And when we get it wrong, we'll try again until we get it right.

Now if anyone has advice on napping, send it our way...

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