When I was younger, like 13 years old younger, I was concerned what people thought of me. Exterior mattered greatly to me. My 8th grade year was spent in a small (think 250 people) town of Munich, ND. I was definitively the outsider, coming from Africa for my 8th grade year. Try as I could, it is not easy catching up to speed on four years of missed fashion, tv shows and music. I stood out, I thought, like a sore thumb.
Almost every Saturday I’d walk the 1/4 mile to my grandparent’s house. I’d watch my grandmother make her weekly baked goods; saw how she kneaded the dough, squeezing rolls from her fingers. Bars and pies, cinnamon rolls and strawberry rhubarb jam were on the list each week. My grandfather, with his amazing blue twinkling eyes, would tease me while I hung out in their living room. Oftentimes I’d fall asleep on one of the four couches along the large window over looking the baseball fields.
Those Saturdays were lifesavers and reprieves to “real life” for me. At my grandparent’s house I was just me, Melody, not “the kid from Africa.”
I remember thinking at that time that when I was an adult, I wouldn’t ever feel like I stood out. I’d fit in, I’d belong.
Funny thing about grown up life; it’s just childhood amped up. Parenthood smashed those childish illusions of blending in.
Today I struggle with wanting to just hide and blend in. One of our children has the most deeply caring heart I’ve ever seen. This dear soul feels so strongly, physically manifesting deep thoughts. As their parent, I struggle knowing when to push them and when to gather them in my arms.
There is no hiding when you walk alongside a deeply feeling child. You stand out like a sore thumb talking your child down from the ledge of hysteria. It’s soul crushing tears pouring down your cheeks driving away leaving your child. In your heart you know the strength of character is built with tough tasks but leaving them to learn that seems like the meanest thing to do.
No, I cannot hide when my child is spitting in my face or throwing a tantrum on the ground. I cannot hide when a fun trip to the store to bless others turns into a “I want, I want” rant instead. There is no blending in.
I didn’t get this until I had kids. I didn’t understand that I would a thousand times over stand out if it meant my children learned and grew because of it. Parenting is the most humbling task ever handed to man.