Blind spots.

I realized the other day at the playground that I don't really like most strangers' kids. I gaze on many of them suspiciously, waiting for them to hit Z, push her out of the way, cough some invisible deadly germ onto her or teach her some bad word or behavior that will send her down a path to rack and ruin. I often think that some strangers' kids could use some serious behavior modification and, frankly, aren't very cute.

I say this knowing full well that many people probably feel the same way about my kid.

I didn't know what the whole baby love thing was really about until I was holding my own flesh and blood baby. There was something about her being OF me that made me go that special kind of mom-crazy that makes me blind to the obvious. I now COMPLETELY understand why parents have huge blind spots about their brood. Pictures I took of infant Z, and remember treasuring at the time, show her with spacey eyes, crazy stringy tufts of hair and pimply skin. "...Only a mother could love", INDEED.

These days, I find myself saying sweetly "we're still learning how to share" DAY IN AND DAY OUT while Z screeches and wails and clutches whatever item is hers (or she's decided is hers) from impending attack. "Learning to share"??? Hmmmm, NOT SO MUCH, CBHM. That's what one might call 'wishful thinking'.

It's a crazy thing, the love for one's own child, isn't it? Maybe the best gift we give our child is this wishful thinking, this glazing over of faults, this easy forgiveness for imperfections.

I find I can forgive and forgive again when it's Z I'm forgiving.


Madeleine Van Hecke said...

Yes, yes, and yes to your thoughts about the acceptance and forgiveness most of us can so easily give to our offspring. The shock to me came when I had that same "I don't like this kid very much" feeling - only it was in reaction to one of my own! My acceptance, I realized, was not so unconditional and endless as I had thought.
I thought you might find something I read about the difference between shame and guilt interesting. The author, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, was trying to make the point that there are times we might want to allow/encourage our child to feel what Nussbaum calls "moral guilt." Example: Our son tears a toy out of his little sister's hands. We might say he's still learning to share, but we might also get mad and show it by saying "Don't do that! Look how your sister is crying now. Give her back the toy."
We do this in a way that is not shaming, not implying "you are horrible for taking that toy from her." We don't want to invoke shame which covers a person with a feeling of being irredeemably bad. Instead, we invoke moral guilt, which says that what you did was bad but you can wipe out bad deeds with good ones (give the toy back) and be enveloped in love and forgiveness after that. I know as a young mom I didn't want my kids to feel guilty, but I think Nussbaum's way of thinking might have influenced me to look at forgiveness and love and acceptance of our children a little differently.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Madeleine- I'm intrigued by your information on 'moral guilt' and plan to look up more information about Martha Nussbaum. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

That is so true! :)

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