I don’t mind, so long as they’re happy. And an Olympic Athlete of course.

I often hear pregnant women and expectant fathers discussing what their new arrival might be like in personality and appearance. The conversation always seems to end the same way. “Of course, all I care about is that they are happy and healthy.”

I used to say the same thing myself for the most part, and to be honest, I think it’s time for all us parents to admit to the world that we are lying. I don’t deny that without our medical well being, we have nothing, and that the most important thing for us all is that our children are healthy. I can’t imagine for one minute what parents with truly sick children must be going through, and not for one second do I mean to belittle that in any way.

But even when my baby couldn’t see, and we were concerned about the possibility of fairly serious issues behind his lack of vision, I would not say that “all I cared about” was his health.

Because even if I am only speaking for myself, I want my son to be happy and healthy-sure. But I also wan’t him to be clever. And funny. And popular, and to find love. And to say that the only important thing which contributes to happiness is our health is frankly naive at best.

Perhaps you could say that it’s the happiness part that is the main thing then. All I care about is that my children are happy. After all, plenty of people live with medical issues and health problems and live long happy fulfilled lives as well.

Also nonsense. If someone told me that my son would grow up happily, but unmarried, not interested in Judiasm, and living off unemployment benefits, perfectly content with his lot in life, you would have to peel me off the bathroom floor. I would be entirely miserable, despite his happiness. Because we all want certain things for our offspring. This is the same issue as arguing that you don’t care about your child’s gender. Because you do care. You’re allowed to have an opinion. We all care and we all have expectations about what our children will do or will not do. The best we can do is to manage these expectations and be honest about them.

There is a rumour going around that all parents think their children are beautiful, and clever, and hilarious. I’m yet to find out if this is the case, (as my son really is clever and beautiful and hilarious ;)) but if as I suspect, that when honest we can see our own kids flaws as well as the annoying neighbours ones, I think we could all benefit from being honest about our fears and expressing them as positively as possible.

I am not going to deny that I’ve always worried that I will find it difficult if my children were to end up unintelligent. It’s not something a mother is supposed to admit, that they worry about spawning a dunce, but there we go. I don’t see it as the worst thing in the world. I suppose I feel that the responsibility lies mainly with me. Everything being equal, most children have talents and abilities. Most kids shine at something, as long as they are given the tools. Bringing your kids up with confidence and independence gives them the ability to find their own intelligence. After all, it’s not like I’m dictating that I will be devastated unless they becomes one exact thing, a Brain Surgeon or a Professor of the Fine Arts. After all, I believe it is just as damaging to tell your children “I don’t care about how clever you are” as it is to say “you must get all A’s.” I see so many people, adults and children alike, who are stifled by the wrong expectations, either high or low from their parents, and who I’m sure under a different upbringing could have been just as ‘clever’ or ‘capable’ as someone at the top of their field.

I can’t pretend I don’t want R to be happy in my way as well as his. I can’t tell him I’d be over the moon if he married out of our religion, or decided his vocation was to be a starving artist. Maybe that will change as I watch him grow into his own person not just our baby. But while he is young, all I can do is try to give him the space and encouragement to find out what I’m sure is there. What makes him clever, or funny, or socially capable, and then help him shine. And brag about it of course. After all, I am still his mother.

As an added treat, here’s Rachel and Ross on this issue, 🙂

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Conflict

I like to think of myself as quite an empathetic person. I listen to my friends, I cry in movies, I like to help out those in need, and most people know I have quite a thing about the homeless. But I manage to do this while being proud of what I’ve acheived and what I have. And I’m not sorry for that.Just because I can be understanding of those that have less than me, doesnt mean I need to be ashamed of what I have.

And yet…

There are certain things I have, which others in my family do not. Whether that is money, or love, or friendship, or a career, these are all aspects of my life which I put a lot of hard work into, and have taken me a long time to accept that I deserve.

And yet…

When will that voice stop? When will I finally be able to believe the things I say, and not get knocked over by the negative comments and looks? With one “Oh..” and a sigh in my direction, I suddenly feel like I shouldnt be able to enjoy the life I’ve built for myself, because you dont have it as well.

In the least harsh way possible.. how is that my fault? I try and let you experience as much of my life as possible. I try and include you, in fact-I want to include you. But it’s never enough. It’s never all the outings and invitations and time spent together that you remember. It’s only the rare occasion when you’re not included, even (or perhaps especially) when you easily could have joined in by simply asking.

Instead, you refuse to join in when asked, and then make me feel awful for doing something for myself. When I’m trying to enjoy spending time with my nuclear family, instead of encouraging us and being happy that we’re going out together, you can only focus on the fact that you dont have what we do.

I’m sorry. This probably isnt making me seem very nice. You dont have the support system that I do. In many respects, you are alone. Maybe a better person than me would feel more sorry for you. Include you in everything. Brush over it when you do that face which is primarily meant to show me how hard everything is for you, and take it as a true mirror of your feelings, rather than a statement of martyrdom. I suppose I’m not that nice a person to begin with. Because it is hard for me. Unbearably so.

I can imagine exactly what you would think if you read this. She doesnt want me to spend time with them. I’m such a burden. I’ll keep myself to myself from now on. Oh how you would miss the point so fantastically. I love spending time with you. R loves spending time with you. When we get the opportunity, all three of us love it. It’s the other times. It’s when I have joy that doesnt include you, when I go out, or have a treat, or experience something that’s just mine in my life, or just ours as a unit of 3, that it all seems to go wrong. And as I’ve said, I can see that it must be difficult for you, because I know you feel alone.

But as crazy as this sounds, It leaves me wondering… Does it improve your happiness to take away mine?