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The love… and vulnerability of a parent

I occasionally attend trainings put on by a local professional organization for therapists and social workers who specialize in infant mental health.  Their meetings occur on days when I’m home with my infant daughter, and since they are a very baby-friendly group, I bring her along.  One of the leaders of the group sent me a email the other day, and made a bit of an assessment of my daughter at the end. 

Her comment–a positive one, thankfully, and one that I assume she meant somewhat casually, rolled around in my head for days.  I found myself coming back to it, and coming back to it, and coming back to it.  Every time, I felt relief and reassurance. 

I should clarify right now that I have no significant, obvious reasons to be concerned about the baby.  In my head, I can clearly see that everything is fine and good with her.   I am incredibly fortunate in that my work has given me so many opportunities to educate MYSELF about how to parent better, and I believe that my kids are beneficiaries of my learning.  And yet, I felt relief to hear a professional label my baby positively. 

What’s up with that?  I’m a professional, too– a child therapist and parenting coach, and yet I apparently needed someone else to tell me that my kids are all right?  Yeah,  I did.  I do.  I think we all do at times.  Here’s why:

  • We love our children with a red hot fiery passion.
  • Doing right by these children that we love so much is incredibly important to us. 
  • Parenting is crazy hard and Everyone makes mistakes.
  • This leaves a (sometimes hidden, even from ourselves) layer of insecurity in our hearts–with its roots in the most passionate of emotions.
  • Other people, especially professionals, hold power–whether they mean to or not–to support or undermine us.  When people judge our children–positive or negative–it goes to a deep, vulnerable, tender place. 
  • I understand this… I “get” it.  With every resource and training and support that I have in my life, I still make plenty of mistakes and feel plenty of relief when positive feedback comes my way. 
  • This vulnerability doesn’t surface every day, but it’s still there.  (Cause we love ’em.  We really, really love ’em.)

So, since today is Feb 14th, I’ll finish this with a Valentine’s message for you all.  See that child of yours?   Those pieces of your heart walking around outside of your body?  Thank you for what you have done for that child.  Thank you for your parenting.  Thank you for your hard work, your humor, your flexibility, your showing up, your dedication, your sacrifices, your love.   All the ways that your child is wonderful–you’ve helped that to come into the world.  

The kids are all right.

with love,

Katie

5 Comments on “The love… and vulnerability of a parent

  1. Wow, Katie, I love this! It puts into words how I love my babies — little pieces of my heart walking around.

  2. Thanks Karen! :^)
    I agree, it’s a fantastic quote. It’s not mine, though, and I probably should have cited it… I’ll do so now. The original quote, said by Elizabeth Stone, is: “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”

  3. Thanks Katie! We definitely need this reminder. Sometimes I only see and focus on the mistakes I make or my shortcomings. But yes there are things I do right every day and need to be reminded of that. Thanks for being that person today.

  4. Yes! I love that quote. So true!! Thank you so much for posting this. We all need reassurance that we are doing a good job.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post. Doing right by my children is the hardest thing I can imagine doing. It’s good to know that we all struggle with this and that it doesn’t take parenting perfection for a child to be happy and healthy in every way.