Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Like You. I Like You. I Like You Just The Way You Are.

My son made my heart swell and then stop for just a breath today.

He makes my heart skip a beat every day when I look into those big blue eyes, full of joy and wonder. But today was different.

We've loved having access to a pool this winter and the kids have really taken off with their swimming skills in just the past couple of weeks.

Ian, just a month ago, was so cautious around the pool that he preferred to dip his toes in, but otherwise sit on the deck and avoid getting in the water. Over the course of the past month he has developed much more confidence in the water and actually enjoys swimming--as long as he kept his head above water. Just this week he has surprised me by jumping in over his head and swimming to the edge of the pool with a smile. Huge progress, folks!

But I digress. I say all of this to set the stage for this afternoon.

So, today was a perfect warm, sunny Florida late-winter day, so the kids and I went to the pool for a swim this afternoon. The big girls were practicing their underwater swimming, Eliza was enjoying floating on her back in her puddle-jumper swim floaty, and Ian was jumping in then climbing out to jump again like it was his job.

Then he jumped in, but instead of climbing back out to jump again, he swam over to me and sat down on the steps next to me. He looked up at me, dripping and smiling and wrapped his arms around me in a hug. And then it happened.

He looked into my eyes through his little blue goggled eyes and started singing, "I like you. I like you. I like you, just the way you are."

My heart stopped. My son hugged me again and swam away as quickly as he had come to join me.

It took me a moment to regain my composure, then I recognized the song from his new favorite PBS Kids show, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, a spin-off of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood which I grew up watching.

Surely Ian had no idea how poignant that little song was to me. You see, Ian is not my easy child. He'll never be my easy child, and it's taken me a long time to come to the understanding that it's okay that he's not going to be an easy child.

His first year was met with an endless stream of tears from both of us. He had extreme colic. I had postpartum depression. We were both a hot mess.

His next two years were a challenge as he tried to develop independence with older sisters who love to dote on him. We also had huge communication barriers to overcome and are still working to overcome some of these.

Ian is a passionate person, and that means when he's happy he is exuberantly happy--you'll never meet a more joyful little boy. However, when he's sad or mad, the same passion comes forth and sometimes he struggles to direct that energy in a manner that is not destructive to himself or others around him. His anger is as deep as his joy is high.

I love my son. Deeply. He has opened my eyes and my heart to a world that I never experienced before he came into my life. It's not always been easy, but it's always been good. However, there are times that he has been hard to like.

When his stubborn streak takes over and he cannot, will not, shall not cooperate he can be hard to like. When frustration or social anxiety boils over and an outburst of screaming occurs as he tries to gain control of a situation, it's not an easy time to like someone. When anger escalated to stomping, pounding fists and growling, he's not easy to like in that moment.

However, listening to his sweet little voice singing, "I like you. I like you. I like you, just the way you are," to me this afternoon was a marker in time that I'll not soon forget.

Four years and some change into parenting my precious son, my heart resonated with those words.

I do like him. Just the way he is.

There is not a single thing that I would change about him, and while he continues to grow, develop and refine his character, I will continue to like him just the way he is. Today. Not the man he will grow up to be (although, let me tell you--this man will move mountains!). No, I like him just the way he is right now.

With all of the struggles that we endure and all of the challenges that we face together, I like him just the way he is.

And it is an honor to know that he likes me just the way I am. I am so undeserving, but those words are healing and life-giving to me.

I am blessed. We are blessed.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. I have a 21 month old son a bit like this, sunshine and joy but also prone to intense thunderstorms. He's my wild child, always testing his, and my, limits. I love him madly.